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.