A visionary, a craftsman, a comedian ...He can do anything with a piece of prose, and it is a humbling experience to see him go to work on what has passed up till now as 'modern fiction'.
He's so modern he's in a different time-space continuum from the rest of us.
Goddamn him' ZADIE SMITH A recognised master of form and a brilliant recorder of human behaviour, David Foster Wallace has been hailed as 'the most significant writer of his generation' (TLS).
Each new book confirms and extends his genius, and this new short story collection is no exception.
In the stories that make up OBLIVION, David Foster Wallace conjoins the rawest, most naked humanity with the infinite convolutions of self-consciousness - a combination that is dazzlingly, uniquely his. 'Wallace's talent is such that you can't help wondering: how good can he get?' TIME OUT
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 28/04/2005
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780349116495
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by pocket_saviour
It's very rare that I give up on a book, but this pile of unreadable, self-indulgent wank lasted 30 pages into the first "short" story before I gave up in disgust.
Review by DRFP
I don't particularly rate Wallace's first two short story collections, <i>Girl With Curious Hair</i> and <i>Brief Interviews With Hideous Men</i>. As the author himself commented on BIWHM: "There isn't really an agenda with this book, except for a certain amount of technical, formal stuff that I don’t know if I want to talk about and I don’t think people really want to hear about." That was always my problem with both aforementioned collections of short fiction: they were overtly technical exercises for Wallace to show off his skillset and remind everyone just how smart a writer he was. The problem was there was no payoff for the hardwork involved, something that Wallace <i>knew</i> was required and explains why his novels feature as many hilarious sections as they do intricate technical passages. The point being, Wallace's short fiction often doesn't have the space to be both technical and engaging.<i>Oblivion</i> is certainly the best stab at this combination in the short form that Wallace made, with "The Suffering Channel" being exactly what I wish more of his short stories were like: readable, true to his style, but dealing with heavyweight themes in a manner that interested, rather than alienated the reader. Even better is "Good Old Neon", which is without doubt the best short he wrote (much better than "The Depressed Person" to which it is, understandably, frequently linked). It makes for grim reading in retrospect of Wallace's death, but even had I read it before that event it still would have registered as a brilliant piece of writing. Its insight and conveyance of a particular mind is almost unmatched. "Mister Squishy" is interesting in its portrayal of boring business matters in America, somehow remaining interesting in spite of tedious subject matter; a talent more fully developed in <i>The Pale King</i>.The other stories in this collection whilst not such standout efforts certainly didn't bore me in the way that certain stories from both GWCH and BIWHM did. With a few exceptions Wallace does away with the footnotes and endnotes that characterised his earlier work and were in danger of becoming a cliche. <i>Oblivion</i> is definitely a more mature work than his other short story collections and the best of the bunch. Overall, it still doesn't scale the heights that Wallace's novels reached - given his maximalist style Wallace needed the breathing space that novels permit - but there are gems here that are an essential part of Wallace's output and not to be missed.