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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 David Foster Wallace (P)2012 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 08-22-12

Just 2 Fast & Huge & ALL Interconnected 4 Words

"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.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Poop, Cancer, Murder.... DFW has it all

I loved this book. Meandering and seemingly stream of consciousness, but intricate and intelligent. Funny and irreverent.

Guys if you've ever been in business or market research you will especially love its meetings and Byzantine intrigue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nona
  • Santa Rosa, CA
  • 07-18-15

confusing

stories have so many tangents that it's hard to tell where one leaves off and another begins. it would help the listener if music or something separated the tales.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Pretentious and ultimately pointless verbiage

Any additional comments?

I enjoy descriptive, detailed, multi-faceted scenes and characters but found this book an example of the author's pretentious use of a thesaurus. Tangents contributing to the basic story are great, but meanderings in college-level verbiage are another. I listened to nearly all the stories but found them disappointingly boring and pointless as none of them had an ending that I could discern or they made the same repeated point simply using synonyms. This author gets all kinds of awards and acclaims so I may be a Philistine but I know what I like - a well-written, entertaining or meaningful story with an end which justifies my listening to it. Completely unfulfilled I eventually thought the author is just showing off his vocabulary and use of "color" and quit the book.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Overly-worded stories with no endings

What would have made Oblivion better?

As lauded, Wallace was clearly very intelligent, but is seams like he is trying to beat you over the head with it. He is so wordy and goes into intense descriptions that seem to be completely unnecessary. I don't know if these stories had been writing exercises never intended for publication? The stories have no endings!!!

Which character – as performed by Robert Petkoff – was your favorite?

Despite the head-scratcher of a book, the narration was incredible. I can't imagine being tasked to have to record the reading of this book. Hope he was paid well.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • GREENVILLE, SC, United States
  • 08-03-15

Over the top disturbing

I had to turn it off and I'm very hard to disturb. More horrific than King ever even considered. The performances was good, however.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Inaugural Encounter

This was my first encounter with David Foster Wallace, and one of inspiration, which is to say its impact will be further endeavors with the author’s writing. If a technical manual , a Woody Alan shorty, and a white paper on the metallurgical attributes of lead were combined, a David Foster Wallace story would be the result.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Frustrating at best

The stories had much potential, but like DFW's life, where ultimately cut short. Definitely an odd way to leave the reader.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Weird, Wild, and Wonderful

If you could sum up Oblivion in three words, what would they be?

I think I just did.

What did you like best about this story?

Nothing was predictable.

Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

If you could take any character from Oblivion out to dinner, who would it be and why?

David Foster Wallace (since he appears in one of the stories), because it would mean he would still be alive.

Any additional comments?

The imaginative and creative power displayed in these stories is awe-inspiring.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful