Oblivion

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Oblivion Short Story Month 2018

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In this collection of eight stories, irrepressible modernist David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men) takes on media overkill and other forms of cultural paranoia, zeroing in with his charged andsearing prose. 329p.

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  • D.F.W.'s Mission to Depress the Audience

    5 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 11:35:11 AM

    ** spoiler alert ** The eight stories that make up David Foster Wallace's Oblivion are perhaps the bleakest I've read from him. Just looking at the title can tell you that. An infant trapped in a scalding diaper, a mentally deranged substitute teacher, a marriage teetering on the outcome of a snoring diagnosis...His characters tend to project a sad sack-ish nature bordering on some kind of mania. They're also difficult reads. They're tersely written stories and as much as DFW has confused me with his prose his ability for garrulous paragraphs that seem to extend forever are constantly pushing the limits of what the reader would put up with (sometimes comprising an entire story in a single paragraph (Another Pioneer). Perhaps the most daunting is the last, The Suffering Channel, which centers around the (I hope) fictitious exploits of the very real InStyle magazine leading up to the 9/11 attacks. Observing a workplace that seems populated with nothing but female interns it's one of the paid male employees, Skip Atwater, who goes to Indiana to follow up a story about a tradesman (Brint Moltke) that has a certain skill for being able to manipulate bowel movements into works of out, that forms the bulk of the action. When it becomes apparent that the offices are located at the World Trade Center it makes all of the action at the office seem painfully silly and lends a sympathetic note to every conversation. Another piece, Good Old Neon, follows around a self-described fraud, whose insistence of such leads him to ultimately commit suicide and continue to wonder (because death is never really the end) what other people must have thought of him as a younger person who's internal thoughts must have been really fucked up to lead to such an end (though the eyes of a character named David Wallace). Given the unfortunate end of David Foster Wallace you certainly wonder how much he's suffered through in his forty-something years.