John's Reviews > Oblivion

Oblivion by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Jul 26, 2010

really liked it
Read from July 26 to August 01, 2010

Oblivion was my first Wallace book. I was not disappointed. The style of the writing tends to distance his characters, which can be a little off-putting in the stories with less warmth than the others. However, both Wallace's verbal prowess and his powers of observation make each of the stories in this collection engaging, if not also profound.

My favorites tend to be those with a bit more of a comic tone to them (Mister Squishy, Oblivion, The Suffering Channel), though Good Old Neon, dark as it is, just might be the best of the bunch. The comedy in Wallace's stories provides an "in" to characters that are otherwise alone in a dark and uncaring world. He captures the dislocation and disorientation of contemporary life in shockingly descriptive language. But it's not only that. Even the form of the stories--filled with rabbit trails, meandering sentences, and unannounced asides--works to move the reader out of his comfort zone, to muddle the simple plots of these stories and bring some sense of utter incomprehensibility to life.

Wallace was clearly a writer striving for something more than just the communication of a story or a plot. He sought to create art, to explore ideas through his fictional writing. And while I think that works better in some of these stories than others, I cannot deny the obvious gifts that this author possessed.

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07/27/2010 page 11
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