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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  8,314 ratings  ·  612 reviews
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 homici ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2004)
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Caution:- Long review ahead.

I finally understand what the word 'tedium' means. Interestingly enough I have neither associated this particular term with books making use of the much revered and equally feared stream-of-consciousness as a narrative device nor with hefty tomes worth more than 1000 pages.

But getting through even 1 page of DFW's writing requires a Herculean effort on the reader's part. Wallace commands your undivided attention and let's say if you are demanding the luxury of a split
Oh boy. Oh man, do I have a lot to say about this here book. I can't even begin to tackle it as a whole entity, so I'm going to do a review of each story, unless I get tired and have to smoosh.

Also: I am the kind of person who listens to all my music on shuffle, which means I clearly have no respect for the artist's conception of a complete work. Consequently I read these stories totally out of order, and will review them the same way.

"The Suffering Channel" and "Mister Squishy"
I think these a
MJ Nicholls
I don’t think collections serve Foster Wallace well: it seems to me his stories would read better as stand-alones on some thoroughly modern internet webshite, with accompanying artwork or explanatory hyperlinks, rather than modishly festering on some fading acid paper alongside all the other fuddy-duddies. (PS Abacus, your paper is cheap and lousy). Case in point is ‘Mister Squishy,’ which seems to cry out for its own accompanying glossary, appended addenda and so on, but sits uneasily on the pa ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
From my favorite story, "Good Old Neon":

"What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant."

Oblivion is not as consistently solid as his first short stories collection Girl With Curious Hair, but hands down is amazing nonetheless.

Only slight complaint: The very first story is a bit difficult as it's loaded with corporate marketing, PR and advertising jargon, but it
If nothing else, this book really made me think. Maybe even over-think. This book invites it. There is a lot to mull over in each of these stories, and DFW is very rarely direct about anything, preferring to leave clues along the way.

I think it’s interesting that each story has its own specific vocabulary and/or verbal tics from Mister Squishy's ad agency lingo to Oblivion’s strange use of latin/pace/'air-quotes' to Suffering Channel’s magazine-speak; it’s almost as if the characters in one sto
Franco  Santos

Señor Blandito: No me gustó en absoluto. Creo que es el relato más pesado, insufrible y lento que he leído en mi vida. Admiro muchísimo la capacidad que tenía Wallace para analizar y describir hasta la más ínfima minucia; sin embargo, fue tanto lo que desmembró y analizó que mi voluntad para seguir pasando la página quedó gravemente herida. Pude terminarlo, pero el daño ya estaba hecho. No se lo recomiendo a nadie: un hastío interminable. (1.5/5).

El alma no es una forja: Me gustó. Es interesa
Leo Robertson
For we die every day; oblivion thrives
Not on dry thighbones but on blood-ripe lives,
And our best yesterdays are now foul piles
Of crumpled names, phone numbers and foxed files.

- from Nabokov's Pale Fire

Okay! So here’s some music to listen to while you read this review :)

But it’s not really a review, as always.
I have this picture in my head of what a review would constitute, and it’s not this.
Also, in the interest of improving my own writing, all “I think”s are removed from the below (…I think) b
Lo que está claro es que los libros de David Foster Wallace, o te gustan o no te gustan. Personalmente, prefiero cuando le da más importancia al fondo de la historia, que a la forma de contarla. Cuando no me gusta es cuando experimenta. En este sentido, 'Extinción' es el libro que más me ha gustado por ahora de DFW.

La característica más destacable de la escritura de DFW, no es su calidad literaria, que la tiene y mucha, ni las historias que cuenta, que son magníficas, todo un prodigio de imagina
Nate D
Feb 02, 2009 Nate D rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nate D by: Anne, again.
David Foster Wallace inspires many complaints -- he is overly self-conscious, he abuses the footnote, he is at times impenetrable -- but here happily, none of these are especially true. Even the post-modern playfulness is reigned in somewhat. Unlike the layered interviews and broken portraits of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, these are more properly stories (or even novellas, perhaps, as many are quite lengthy), winding and carefully plotted, and fully invested in the narrative. Only a singl ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Author's note: review and rating both subject to change. I've already bumped it a star; the second will depend on what a rereading of the title story brings.

You know, I hate to say this about my favorite author, but a lot of this book is just kind of... boring. "The Suffering Channel" and "Oblivion" are the two problem children here, taking up about 130 pages of space; they desperately need the human touch Wallace applies to his distinct brand of experimental fiction. I get that they're transiti
Mi DFW favorito hasta la fecha. Antes de leer 'Extinción', David Foster Wallace me gustaba: escribía bien, era postmoderno, original y divertido, pero sus cuentos eran sólo anécdotas, algunas más incisivas que otras, pero anécdotas al fin y al cabo. En cambio 'Extinción' va mucho más allá. Sus cuentos alcanzan una profundidad impresionante y, detrás de la anécdota, nos acaba hablando de cosas universales que nos afectan a todos, básicamente acaba hablando del sufrimiento, del horror, de la trage ...more
Hannah  Messler
I've only got a few pages left of the last story in this collection and the whole thing has just been so excruciatingly beautiful I am almost palpably sad to see its end approach. That the guy whose mind from whence this sprung had to want to die so bad is just the worst the worst the worst.

Done. Buh. So sad.
Patrizia O
I racconti di Oblio, molto diversi per stile e per lunghezza (si va dalle quattro pagine di Incarnazioni di bambini bruciati a brevi romanzi di un centinaio di pagine), sembrano avere come denominatore comune la disillusione e la rassegnazione dell’età adulta.
Se ne La scopa del sistema c’è l’onnipotenza giovanile di chi pensa di poter superare tutti problemi e di poter provare infinite sperimentazioni; se in Infinite Jest c’è la consapevolezza di chi di chi ha dovuto lottare e soffrire per giun
I get a little depressed after reading DFW books because I realize how far my writing skills fall short. This book is insanely dense and show-offy in the best sense (like when a magician draws attention to himself to fool you...then leaves you breathless after the bangs and flashes). This is a book of short stories, though some should technically be called novellas, each with totally implausible plots...until Wallace pulls it off. Faulknerian sentences were sort of his schtick in Infinite Jest-- ...more
David Beavers
After I finished reading it a few years ago, this book did not make me sad. Or at least, it made me sad in the way that we like art to make us sad; where we allow ourselves to mistake sadness for poignancy, peaking a flashlight into our dark bits through someone else's work. Now? I don't know how I could re-read this and not feel incredibly saddened. DFW was my favorite living author, just a raging cyclone of genius tearing his way through the short story and laughing (literally?) off the idea o ...more
These stories are exhilarating but demanding. His ironic use of corporatese reminds me of George Saunders. From the density of his prose, and from his use of metanarrative, I guessed a few lines in that DFW is a fan of Borges, a hunch that was confirmed by Google. I love the way DFW's mind works, and the nerd in me even enjoyed the formula, written in symbolic logic, that was inserted into one story, a mathematical proof of the narrator's despair. The best stories: "The Soul is Not a Smithy", ab ...more
"¿Sabéis? ¿Nunca tuvisteis cuando erais pequeñas ese rollo en el que pensabais en vuestra mierda como en vuestro bebé y a veces queríais abrazarla y hablar con ella y casi llorabais y os sentíais culpables por tirar de la cadena, y a veces pensabais en vuestra mierda dentro de una especie de carrito de bebé con un gorrito y un biberón, y a veces os quedabais mirando en el cuarto de baño y os despedíais de ella con la mano, adiooós, mientras se iba, y luego sentíais un vacío?"
Oblivion--it is just the perfect title to unify these strange and maddening gems.
You could really lose yourself in this book, indefinitely, if you're not careful.
Recommended to readers of Postmodernism and Quiet Horror.
Richard F. Schiller
The darkest, but arguably best work of Wallace I've read yet. The stories in this collection lack Wallace's typical linguistic playfulness, quirky humour - what remains is a cloud of seriousness. This was not necessarily a bad thing however - I felt that there were several moving scenes in Infinite Jest with Don Gately that were essentially ruined by a crude fart joke. "Mr. Squishy" is reminiscent of "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again", as Wallace tears apart the advertising industry. H ...more
With the first couple of stories I was about the ditch it (I thought I was getting into an Interviews with Hideous Men type of deal). I was like; David, chill alright! As some feminist would say; are you just imposing your phallus on the consciousness of the world?! What did I do to you? The stories are good, but as they say; doesn't pass the burden proof! (which I know DFW hated to be criticised for... Does he actually do it just because of that?) My other theory is that he decided to start wit ...more
Oblivion is far and away DFW's best story collection. The stories here, for the most part, showcase DFW's most disciplined and complete writing, and his most mature. The Pale King is more like Oblivion than any of DFW's other writing, but it doesn't match the sophistication of these stories.

This stuff is razor-sharp, and distills DFW's finest traits as a writer, and most of the thematic concerns broadly found in his work. There's a literary sensitivity and profoundly incisive attention to human
One of the most interesting things happening in American literature is the degree to which writers are getting inside the language and really making it work. With David Foster Wallace, you feel as if every punctuation mark, every comma, is fine tuned and well-honed.

Yep, you buy this book for the language. It is the only comfort you will get from this series of bleak tales about the futility of existence for the average man in the American street; the futility of resistance, the eternal bleakness
Nov 07, 2007 Pete rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ummmmmmm
Oh, man. Do you see how I couldn't really recommend this book to anybody, despite the fact that I voted it five stars? That's because I genuinely felt haunted by some of the enclosed stories. Now, let's think about that for a second: "haunted." What that means, basically, is that I felt like the stories were inside of me and that I really, really wished that they weren't there. Especially the title story, which is hands down the most powerful piece of written-word language ever to wrack my psych ...more
Phew - what a collection.

I can see traces of DFW's later work in here - the first part of the beginning story reminds me of the tedium of jargon in The Pale King. He's still fumbling a bit, and some of these stories seem rambling and pretentious and just bad compared to the rest of his work (!), but his incredible talent with language is here, not a doubt.

As for my humble recommendations, Good Old Neon, The Soul is not a Smithy, and Incarnations of Burned Children were brilliant.
A humbling experience for me...
I read Malraux or Hemingway, and I know I am reading some great literature... I know it, and yet I remain unmoved, uninvolved, unable to embrace what I read. So is it with David Foster Wallace. My very great loss...
All but "Incantations of burned children" which actually terrorized me.
I am not a huge fan of short stories (as those of you who have read other reviews will note). I am especially not a fan of short stories that take a while to get into; I prefer reading one long story (even a 1000 page book) to several small stories.

That said, this volume does hold together thematically. Several of the stories have quintessentailly "perfect" people who are really depressed underneath; several of them end at the point at which the action would normally occur; several characters de
Parlare bene della scrittura di David Foster Wallace e di un suo libro in particolare, probabilmente è anche diventata una moda.

Così come è difficile trovare qualcuno a cui non piacciano personaggi come Benigni oppure Vasco (anche se qui è già più facile), altrettanto difficile è trovare una forte lettore che non apprezzi DFW.

Le ragioni possono essere tante, alcune personali, altre più allargate, fino ad arrivare ai commenti degli altri scrittori.

Dal mio punto di vista devo dire che non mi fido
Leland William
A great collection of short stories.

Edit: 11/4/15:Three months ago, I was having a little trouble getting back on the reading saddle. I had invested in some books that were disappointing, and in an effort to cheer myself I picked up this slim collection off my shelf and read the story 'Good Old Neon'. Wallace's unique prose was a perfect antidote to the subpar work I had been struggling with.

This is my second time reading this collection, and it is once again deserving of five stars. Wallace's
I am putting this book on the "read" shelf, despite the fact I could not get through it. I started the first essay and finally realized, after having not been able to get my head around a point in the book, that the "sentence" I was reading was, ohhh, about a page and a half long. I mean, call me old school, but for the love of christ, put a fucking period in there somewhere so I can tell my brain the thought is complete. I felt like a crazy person trying to get through this book. I stopped read ...more
This is the last David Foster Wallace book published in his lifetime I've read, and the last book he published before his death-- consequently, it's at times hard not to read Oblivion as a sort of final document, Wallace's last stop at sanity before descending into the depths of suicidal depression. The number of "warning sign" stories is alarming, even if they're also present in books like Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. But, ultimately, it's probably the least stunning of the Wallace short ...more
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David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe ...more
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“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.” 263 likes
“The truth is you already know what it's like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.

But it does have a knob, the door can open. But not in the way you think...The truth is you've already heard this. That this is what it's like. That it's what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless inbent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you're a fraud, of course what people see is never you. And of course you know this, and of course you try to manage what part they see if you know it's only a part. Who wouldn't? It's called free will, Sherlock. But at the same time it's why it feels so good to break down and cry in front of others, or to laugh, or speak in tongues, or chant in Bengali--it's not English anymore, it's not getting squeezed through any hole.

So cry all you want, I won't tell anybody.”
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