Antitoi Entertainment—or “Antitoi Entertainent” to go by the sign outside*—is the misshapen key to Infinite Jest’s unlockable story, so I’ll be careful what I write about it. Early on, it is an acquisition point for the “elusive compound” DMZ, a fungal hallucinogenic which may or may not play a role in the unraveling of a major character’s psyche. Later, it is a “place of very last resort” for the pitiful (if not pitiable) Poor Tony Krause, not to mention the very last place for a few who darken its door. It is a focal point for the diabolical Wheelchair Assassins, who suspect it of being the primary conduit for a mysterious video cartridge containing an unfinished film—one much-talked-about but seldom seen—which gives the novel its name and the narrative its macguffin.
On a surface level, Antitoi Entertainment is a sort of combination antique store / pawn shop—a “cut-rate mirror, blown-glass, practical joke ‛n gag, trendy postcard, and low-demand old film-cartridge emporium”—which once served as a front operation for the F.L.Q. separatist group in metro Boston. Its proprietors, for lack of a better term, are the “burly” and dim-witted brothers Bertraund and Lucien Antitoi. Although the store is mentioned in passing early on, the reader does not lay eyes it until long after most novels have told us “About the Author.”
Pinpointing the most probable site for Antitoi Entertainment is no easy task. Although it is unambiguously placed in the “decayed Portugo/Brazilian district” of Inman Square, more specifically on Prospect Street north of Central Square, the closer we get the less certain we become.
The putative best information about Antitoi Entertainment’s location is given in the scene where Ruth van Cleve pursues Poor Tony through Inman Square, determined not to let his purse-snatching be a successful one, as previously quoted in the Mayflower Poultry Co. entry. Poor Tony, en route to Antitoi Entertainment (seeking “pharmacological credit”) even before making the grab, apparently keeps going this direction. The chase continues for several blocks over several pages and multiple intercut scenes before we are told:
Antitoi Entertainment was just over two long north-south blocks distant…
…Krause and pursuer both jay-ran through a gridlocked intersection…
and our final clue is that
Antitoi Ent.’s discreet back door was accessible by a parking alley that cut west off Prospect just before Broadway and went west to intersect a smaller and dumpster-lined north-south alley…
Yet there are some major problems with this geography. The most likely intersection for their encounter is Prospect and Hampshire (pictured first above), but from here it’s Prospect and Broadway (second above) that is “two long north-south blocks” away, and there is no “gridlocked intersection” between them. Unless the two run north on Prospect for several blocks, then double back and run south on Prospect before Poor Tony makes his getaway move, this makes no sense whatsoever.
I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent puzzling over the location of Antitoi Entertainment. But I am relieved to say that I am not the only one to have done so. David Hering of the University of Liverpool also labors to pin down its location in “Infinite Jest: Triangles, Cycles, Choices & Chases,” his contribution to the 2010 essay collection Consider David Foster Wallace (which he also edited). Hering homes in on the same two-block stretch as I did and, following a careful explication of the muddled clues, hazards a guess through the deployment of: trigonometry.
Drawing angle bisectors through vertices of Inman Square streets key to the scene, Hering finds they converge on a single point at the corner of Prospect and St. Mary, roughly half the distance between Hampshire and Broadway. Though Hering himself calls this is an “admittedly … speculative detail,” the corner still features, at this late date, more than one building that could very plausibly have been the inspiration for Antitoi Entertainment.
This corner is one I managed to photograph, albeit unsatisfyingly (at the time I visited, Broadway was my focus). The sliver of storefront in the last photo above is my favorite guess for the building; for a better angle, Google Maps Street View has you covered. Looking at it even now, it’s not so hard to imagine the Wheelchair Assassins inside, behind those masked windows, “turning all the stones.”
*Many thanks to Greg Carlisle, author of the indispensable Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, for pointing out in the comments that the “actual” name of the shop is “Antitoi Entertainent”—whether by “English misspelling or Québecois solecism”.