"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
"What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant."
Let me get my biases out in the open. I love DFW. I have to be careful somedays to not fall-down and worship his novels. Wallace's nonfiction talent also hits me as evidence that the universe is not even slightly unfair. But, I've always been just a little unsettled (and occasionally freaked out) by his short stories. 'Oblivion', like his earlier story collections ('Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' and 'Girl with Curious Hair') is one of those tortured works of fiction that both attract and repel me at the same time. It is a little spooky how some of the stories ("Mister Squishy" and "Another Pioneer") anticipate his last unfinished novel 'The Pale King' while "Good Old Neon" was hard to listen even though it has been almost four years since his suicide. Anyway, these stories are quirky, stylized, experimental, and brilliant in their beauty and their suffering.
Robert Petkoff, who also narrated DFW's 'The Broom of the System', 'The Pale King', 'Girl with the Curious Hair', enunciates a Wallace sentence like it's his JOB.
This is one of those important novels I would have probably passed over or missed if Sherwood Anderson wasn't mentioned in so many lists--and if so many authors I admire (Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, O'Connor, McCarthy) didn't mention him as an influence or inspiration.
There is something beautiful about every single sentence that Anderson writes. Some of the stories in 'Winesburg, Ohio' (Death, Loneliness, the Strength of God, Godliness, and Adventure) were nearly perfect. Others, while they might not have hit me as hard as those five, were still almost uniformly beautiful and interesting. Like waves beating rhythmically against a wall, Anderson's stories seemed to gently deliver a message from the universe of the grotesque. Ideas of isolation, loneliness, love and the need to reach out to others (to find love or understanding) float from one story to the next and weave the various plots of the twenty-two short stories together. 'Winesburg, Ohio' is a great piece of American fiction and an amazing piece of 2oth century art.
Nice Catholic ladies aren't supposed to demolish you like this. O'Connor was born to be a literary knife fighter. Page after page, with zero sentimentality, O'Connor rips the grotesque out of her characters and with a bareknuckle, Christian realism absolutely dares you to turn the page. Hers is a painful grace, a search for the holy in the swamps of the Southern absurd. The brilliant thing about O'Connor is by telling her stories of divine grace among the heretics and the horrors, the reader might easily miss the divine spark in the grotesque and absurd darkness.