Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

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In the stories that make up Oblivion, David Foster Wallace joins the rawest, most naked humanity with the infinite involutions of self-consciousness--a combination that is dazzlingly, uniquely his. These are worlds undreamt-of by any other mind. Only David Foster Wallace could convey a father's desperate loneliness by way of his son's daydreaming through a teacher's homicidal breakdown ("The Soul Is Not a Smithy"). Or could explore the deepest and most hilarious aspects of creativity by delineating the office politics surrounding a magazine profile of an artist who produces miniature sculptures in an anatomically inconceivable way ("The Suffering Channel"). Or capture the ache of love's breakdown in the painfully polite apologies of a man who believes his wife is hallucinating the sound of his snoring ("Oblivion"). Each of these stories is a complete world, as fully imagined as most entire novels, at once preposterously surreal and painfully immediate.

About David Foster Wallace

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David Foster Wallace wrote the novels The Pale King, Infinite Jest, and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes Consider the Lobster, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Everything and More, and This Is Water. He died in 2008.
Published June 8, 2004 by Little, Brown and Company. 336 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Oblivion

Kirkus Reviews

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In “The Soul is Not a Smithy,” a depressed, lonely father sorrowfully recalls a violent episode at his son’s elementary school, an episode that the distracted boy survived almost without noticing it: a terrific story, in which the generation gap yawns unbridgeably.

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The Guardian

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Oblivion: Stories by David Foster Wallace 329pp, Abacus, £12 David Foster Wallace is one of those authors about whom there is a mist of reputed genius.

Jul 24 2004 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

The Guardian

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Oblivion: Stories David Foster Wallace Abacus £12, pp330 David Foster Wallace's latest collection foregrounds the most marginal parts of the mind.

Aug 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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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 wh...

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Book Reporter

As in INFINITE JEST and his other works, Wallace, in OBLIVION (a book for dedicated fans of the author --- "fans" meaning readers who tolerate [or even "love"] sentences that go on for pages, few paragraph breaks, excessive parenthesis and quotation, lots of academic yet "hip" or snappy footnotes...

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

AV Club

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"Standing on that corner was the first time in quite a long time he had not felt deeply and painfully alone," Wallace writes.

Jun 14 2004 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

Entertainment Weekly

This Wallace ''emerged from years of literally indescribable war against himself with quite a bit more firepower than he'd had at Aurora West.'' The firepower of the real Wallace is undeniable -- his singular talent for terrifically strange prose is Exhibit A.

Jun 18 2004 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

Reviewing the Evidence

After reading OBLIVION and pondering it six ways from Sunday, I'm still not sure whether David Foster Wallace is a genius or a new writer who has potential but needs more maturity in his writing.

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In Oblivion, David Foster Wallace's first new work of fiction since Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (which contained some of the most formally inventive meta-fictions since John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse), he cements his status as the most aesthetically and intellectually ambitious writer wo...

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London Review of Books

So the narrator tells us the problem instead: The real issue, in other words, is that it is Hope (who is well known for falling asleep the moment she has closed her current ‘livre de chevet’, replaced it on her night-stand and struck the light in the brushed steel sconce above her bed – as oppose...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Debra Bruno Hartford Courant 3.5 of 5 Stars "The real joy of reading these stories, then, is not having Wallace ferry us from point A to point B, but in watching his reptilian intelligence snake across the page, flick out its forked tongue and nab yet another linguistic wormhole.

Oct 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Oblivion: Stories

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