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Oblivion
Stories
by David Foster Wallace

Oblivion reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 68 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
9.5 out of 10
based on 22 reviews
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how did we calculate this?
based on 2 votes
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A collection of short stories by the author of Infinite Jest.

Little, Brown, 352 pages
06/08/2004
$25.95

ISBN: 0316919810

Fiction
Short Stories

What The Critics Said

All reviews are classified as one of five grades: Outstanding (4 points), Favorable (3), Mixed (2), Unfavorable (1) and Terrible (0). To calculate the Metascore, we divide total points achieved by the total points possible (i.e., 4 x the number of reviews), with the resulting percentage (multiplied by 100) being the Metascore. Learn more...

Daily Telegraph George Walden
David Foster Wallace comes with a high reputation to live up to, and in these superbly written stories, he does.
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Review Of Contemporary Fiction Tim Feeney
Wallace has been throwing gauntlets for much of his career, but with Oblivion he demonstrates that it's what follows that matters. Suffice to say, his follow-through is pretty awesome.
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The Globe And Mail [Toronto] Ken Babstock
Wallace is a writer who still believes in asking readers to participate actively in the experience of literature, even when he's being aneurysm-inducingly funny. His body of work has pushed contemporary fiction beyond hyper-educated metafictional horseplay, and the stories that make up Oblivion again pay huge dividends.
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Salon Laura Miller
With his new story collection, David Foster Wallace has perfected a particularly subtle form of horror story -- so subtle, in fact, that to judge from the book's reviews, few of his readers even realize that's what these stories are.
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San Francisco Chronicle Andrew Ervin
Amid its singularly effusive style, "Oblivion" contains Wallace's rare insights -- more prescriptive than descriptive -- and moments of unflinching self-examination, often on a societal scale.
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London Review Of Books Wyatt Mason
Wallace has the right to write a great book that no one can read except people like him. I flatter myself to think that I am one of them, but I haven't any idea how to convince you that you should be, too; nor, clearly, does Wallace. And it might not be the worst thing in the world, next time out, when big novel number three thumps into the world, were he to dig deeper, search longer, and find a more generous way to make his feelings known.
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Los Angeles Times Scott M. Morris
The high stakes of life have supplanted postmodern playfulness, and in "Oblivion," Wallace has laid down a marker that will be coveted by readers.
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Chicago Sun-Times Debra Bruno
Wallace is one of our celebrated new writers. He seems to be able to have that kind of smart-alecky, cynical vision of our stupidities and weaknesses, and at the same time feel incredibly sympathetic that we're so stupid, and that maybe he's that stupid, too... [but], one of the problems with Wallace's writing is that he never really finishes it right.
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Chicago Tribune David Kirby
Why Wallace chooses to go so radically against the grain is his concern, although my guess is that he is looking for a certain kind of reader, one who doesn't mind doing the hard work of making his way through the fiction in order to arrive at a truth about the world and our place in it that writers don't usually disclose.
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Entertainment Weekly Troy Patterson
The firepower of the real Wallace is undeniable -- his singular talent for terrifically strange prose is Exhibit A. But maybe it's time for him to take a crack at describing that ''indescribable war'' in a less mannered way. He's uniquely qualified for battlefield reporting.
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Kirkus Reviews
This ingenious anatomy of incompatibility perfectly illustrates Wallace's genius for combining intellectual high seriousness and tomfoolery with compassionate insight into distinctively contemporary fears and neuroses.
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LA Weekly John Freeman
The real joy of reading these stories is not having Wallace ferry us from point A to point B, but in watching his reptilian intelligence slither and snake across the page, flicker out its tongue and nab yet another linguistic fly off the wall.
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The Guardian
The Onion A.V. Club Andy Battaglia
Many of Oblivion 's rewards come by way of Wallace's sheer mastery of craft. His sentences crackle and swoon, patiently peeling back layers of artifice that cloak the Big Questions.
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Village Voice Michael Miller
Oblivion navigates maze-like psychology with verbal mastery and surrealistic glee.
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The New Republic James Wood
Wallace may be torn between desiring the ordinary satisfactions of readerly connection and disdaining their very ordinariness. Alas, the latter impulse almost always vanquishes the former.
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The New York Times Book Review Walter Kirn
He has the vocabulary. He has the energy. He has the big ideas. He has the attitude. Yet too often he sounds like a hyperarticulate Tin Man.
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Daily Telegraph Sam Leith
I read Oblivion with, approximately, one part intense admiration to two parts weary irritation. It was, in his phrase, a supposedly fun thing that I'll never do again.
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Publishers Weekly
While this collection may please Wallace's most rabid fans, others will be disappointed that a writer of so much talent seems content, this time around, to retreat into a set of his most overused stylistic quirks.
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The Guardian Steven Poole
David Foster Wallace's style may be convoluted, but at least his collection of short stories, Oblivion, has some decent jokes.
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Houston Chronicle Steven E. Alford
As an essayist he is brilliant, up there with Gore Vidal. However, his fiction has become self-indulgent and off-putting, and Oblivion does nothing to change that impression.
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The New York Times Michiko Kakutani
There are moments in ''Oblivion'' when we catch glimpses of Mr. Wallace's exceptional gifts: his ability to conjure both the ordinary... and the extraordinary... his ability to map the bumpy interface between the banal and the absurd. These moments, sadly, are engulfed by reams and reams of stream-of-consciousness musings that may be intermittently amusing or disturbing but that in the end feel more like the sort of free-associative ramblings served up in an analyst's office than between the covers of a book.
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What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this book is 9.5 (out of 10) based on 2 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

Jim H gave it a10:
In fact, in quiet instants that slip past the valves in our regular mode of contemplation, we might be lead to wonder if Wallace's true modus operandi is to only explore and find new ambiguity in the age old dichotomy of mortality and immortality-- just as it is for that other contemporary giant of American prose and literature, Jonathan Franzen-- to enquire whether we live on in any way or if we can only live on by rendering that oldest of question in new terms. On the other hand perhaps we read Wallace only to be as dazzled as he is by the maleficent, circuitous diction he employs, as we all wend our way-- asking as we do, why? is there a good reason for all this effort?--to finally arrive at the end of one more of his durative, hyperlexical sentences.

Jake gave it a9:
And but so....

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