Oblivion: Stories by David Foster Wallace - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

A Suitcase of Spiders

Oblivion: Stories

By

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DAVID FOSTER WALLACE'S writing can be bewitchingly smart, funny and caustic, switching between acerbic satire, romping farce and note-perfect spoofing of American academia, media or corporate idiocy with dazzling facility. He may be 'so modern he's in a different time-space continuum from the rest of us', as Zadie Smith proclaims; but his novels, The Broom of the System and Infinite jest, still accept such old-fashioned duties as entertaining the reader and creating memorable, more or less rounded characters.

Most of the eight stories in Oblivion, in contrast, seem perversely intended to infuriate. Seven are made hard to read by being virtually unbroken slabs of text, as Wallace keeps paragraph-breaks to a minimum and for over 200 pages eschews dialogue - employing it sporadically in the penultimate tale, and

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