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Oblivion by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Mar 26, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, relationships, mental-health
Recommended to mark by: Oriana
Read in August, 2011

Wallace's fiction is so true it might ought to be banned, as he writes in “Good Old Neon,” “… certain truths might well destroy them [somebody/anybody]– and who has that right?” (pg. 170) This is the second time I’ve read this collection of stories this year (2011). The truth is – he’s spoiled me, ruined reading of most other written words and work, because he is so honest and has such command of language, and is maybe the greatest observer of being human that has ever written about being human; and of course that tortured him — The Drama of the Gifted Child, which is a book written by Alice Miller and one in his personal library. His usual themes are all in here and a few new ones: What is Art & who decides, “The Suffering Channel”; Identity, “Mister Squishy”; Marriage, “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature”; The drama of being gifted “Another Pioneer.” “Good Old Neon” is about suicide and obviously, retrospectively, very autobiographical. Wallace’s writing (and thinking) I think, won’t appeal to most people. In “Another Pioneer,” there is one long, long, sentence, that is 675 words. Here is a part of that sentence that is indicative of his style and themes that are embedded, almost hidden, in his work: “… — but with all the different versions’ and sub-versions’ seminars’ hypothesized questions sharing an essentially recursive quality that bent the child’s cognitive powers back in on themselves and transformed him from messianic to monstrous, and whose lethal involution resonates with malignant-self-consciousness themes in everything … fewer and fewer villagers begin queuing up before the child’s platform …” (pg.136) That small part of the 675 word long sentence says so much about Wallace’s mind that it blows my mind. And you also will need a dictionary at hand, all of which he is aware of, and understands all the implications of, but cannot help himself from doing anyway (See above.). Which is a point he makes over and over again. He is redundant. He simply had no off switch in his brain and better than anyone could record what that is like. At the conclusion of “Good Old Neon,” upon the instant of death (which death, by the way, is something he questions) the narrator, David Wallace, says to himself, “‘Not another word.’” (pg. 181)

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