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In his best work, Infinite Jest, Wallace leavened his smartest-boy-in-class style, perfected in his essays and short stories, with a stereoscopic reproduction of other voices. Wallace's trademark, however, is an officious specificity, typical of the Grade A student overreaching: shifting levels of microscopic detail and self-reflection. This collection of eight stories highlights both the power and the weakness of these idiosyncrasies. The best story in the book, "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature," assembles a typical Wallaceian absurdity: a paroled, autodidactic arachnophile accompanies his mother, the victim of plastic surgery malpractice ("the cosmetic surgeon botched it and did something to the musculature of her face which caused her to look insanely frightened at all times"), on a bus ride to a lawyer's office. "The Suffering Channel" moves from the grotesque to the gross-out, as a journalist for Style (a celebrity magazine) pursues a story about a man whose excrement comes out as sculpture. The title story, about a man and wife driven to visit a sleep clinic, is narrated by the husband, who soon reveals himself to be the tedious idiot his father-in-law takes him for. While this collection may please Wallace's most rabid fans, others will be disappointed that a writer of so much talent seems content, this time around, to retreat into a set of his most overused stylistic quirks.
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An all-male focus group convenes in a Chicago office building to sample a new form of junk food under the omnivorous eyes of a psychotic statistician, while on the street a crowd gathers to watch a possibly armed man scale the glass tower. A journalist investigates an Indiana man who makes art out of his "miraculous poo." A couple goes to a sleep clinic to resolve a snoring conflict. So it goes in Wallace's first short-story collection in five years, a high-wire performance by the star of kinetically cerebral fiction. As questing a philosopher (his last book, Everything and More [BKL O 15 03], is a history of infinity) as he is a canny storyteller, the author of Infinite Jest (1996) fashions complex tales rife with shrewd metaphysical inquiries, eviscerating social critiques, and twisted humor. Profoundly intrigued with the paradoxes of being, the haphazard forging of the self, and the relentless cascade of consciousness, he has one of his obsessed narrators bemoan language's inability to convey the psyche's wildness, yet Wallace's torrential prose comes awfully close. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Oblivion: Stories (Purchased on 02/28/2011)
by David Foster Wallace
I bought this book online and it has never arrived as of one month later.
This book works well with stupid people who like feeling smart by reading things they cannot comprehend. Read morePublished on July 11 2004
i'm a big david foster wallace fan and have read all of his other works. this one is my favorite so far (in a very tight race with Infinte Jest). Read morePublished on July 4 2004 by Karin S. Chenowith
I haven't read this book yet either---but I work in a library and I'm 1st on the HOLD List whenever they get the dang title processed. Read morePublished on June 30 2004 by Bob Sawatzki
If you think Mr. Squishy is "tedious and goes nowhere," you are just not going to enjoy this book. Read morePublished on June 15 2004 by A Partisan Wallace-Fan
There are some writers who it becomes fashionable to read and then, when they become too popular or widely praised, fashionable to put down. Read morePublished on June 4 2004 by Gulley Jimson
Infinite Jest is an occasionally really good book and A Supposedly Fun Thing has two very great pieces and one story in Hideous Men (Forever Overhead) is just simply a little... Read morePublished on June 3 2004
Wallace has always written with the intention of trying to impress. His stories here are good, not great. Read morePublished on June 3 2004 by W. P. Strange
There are writers who engage almost solely a reader's intellect. There are also writers who engage almost solely a reader's possibility for emotional response (of course these... Read morePublished on June 2 2004