Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

A friend of mine recently loaned me Hope without Optimism by Terry Eagleton because of my constant search for the former and inveterate lack of the latter. I couldn’t read it. I hardly ever read non-fiction books. My feelings towards non-fiction books parallel my feelings towards documentaries. I’m fascinated to learn about animals, about technology, about humanity, but in the end, I just lack the patience. This friend of mine suggested I could just read the “conclusion”; there was no “conclusion”, so I left it.

I spent many years avoiding reading David Foster Wallace. This was in part just sheer bloody-mindedness because he was so “in” and “deep”, but also because he had an undoubted masterpiece and that masterpiece was Infinite Jest and Infinite Jest was rather long. Then one day I came across The Broom of the System and, expecting nothing, read it. And it was incredible. Sinister, uncomfortable, and incredible.

I also dislike short stories. For me, they’re like tapas. Even when I enjoy them, I tend to forget each one almost immediately upon starting the next, and all of them upon finishing the last. But as DFW only finished two novels and I liked one of them so much and who knows if I’ll ever get around to tackling the other (maybe in prison or on a colonising mission to Mars), after the initial hesitation, I swung into them.

A few months ago, I read The Girl with Curious Hair. Next up: Oblivion.

-Reading the Why


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