by David Foster Wallace


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Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316010764
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 08/30/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 147,679
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1962

Date of Death:

September 12, 2008

Place of Birth:

Ithaca, NY

Place of Death:

Claremont, CA


B.A. in English & Philosophy, Amherst College, 1985;MFA, University of Arizona, 1987

Table of Contents

Mister Squishy3
The Soul Is Not a Smithy67
Incarnations of Burned Children114
Another Pioneer117
Good Old Neon141
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature182
The Suffering Channel238

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Oblivion 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Foster Wallace is a unique writer and has developed a following who seem enchanted with the emperor's new clothes. That is in no way a put-down: there are many writers who have a style of writing that appeals to certain readers and not others, and that does not discount those writers' gifts. For example, there are many readers who have yet to wade through all the volumes of Marcel Proust's 'A la Recherché du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time),' or have struggled through James Joyce's 'Ulysses' or 'Finnegan's Wake¿, or have been frustrated with TS Eliot's phrasing, Virginia Wolff's and Gertrude Stein's styles, etc. My frustration with reading David Foster Wallace in general, and OBLIVION in particular, is that it all seems so self indulgent. Yes, we all love to be challenged into following thought lines that meander for pages, sometimes as a single sentence, if the thought pursued is additive. Wallace is obviously bright and is most assuredly clever and can write hilarious insights into the foibles of living in 2004. Some of these stories are uncommonly terse and complete: 'Incarnations of Burned Children' is a masterpiece of short story development in a matter of a few dense pages. But for the most part, for this reader, Wallace puts us on a roller coaster ride that feels more like an intellectual sideshow gag than one concerned with a story. 'Mister Squishy' is more a novella that just doesn't seem to know how to get where it wants to go. Yes, a healthy dollop of patience and indulgence and extended periods of time will uncover some excellent wordsmithing, but Wallace is an acquired taste. I just haven't acquired it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is tough to read. Having said that however, this was the first book of Wallace's I attempted to read. Wallace starts out the collection with probably the most difficult story of the group, mostly because of marketing jargon. The story is interesting enough to keep you reading but the catch with this story, this entire book, is you have to read carefully. This book is not for a beginner reader, not that anyone can't understand it, but when sentences run on for pages and paragraph breaks are few and far between, you can find yourself stranded on a verbal island with no real idea how you got there. I'm waiting for the paperback later this spring, to re-read and make sure I got the full understanding. Easily one of the most gifted writers currently writing, Wallace is brainy--this is not a casual beach-read type, but extremely interesting and original.
Reverend30 on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
Eh...I guess I'm kinda *off* DFW - I did a project on form in postmodern short stories when I was finishing my degree, and I kind of OD'd on him.There are some good ones in here, and some weak ones. The opener is the best of the bunch.
jbushnell on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
Strong collection from Wallace, with the opening and closing stories ("Mister Squishy" and "The Suffering Channel") being the high-water marks. These two stories are perhaps the strongest pieces of fiction I have ever read about life in corporate America, revealing yet another vast field of human experience that Wallace has seemingly obtained mastery over. Impressive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not DFW's best, but if you're a fan, you'll likely enjoy nonetheless. And if you're new to checking him out, it's an enjoyable and accessible book that might pique your interest for more. -SB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hysterical realism. Buy geektionary and look it up.
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A friend.
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Whats going on?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why was Troll trying to "save" you?