Oblivion: “hyper-realistic,” but not “superb”

FSU’s David Kirby liked David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion, and said so in his Chicago Tribune review, but he did not, contrary to the assertion of an ad in The New Yorker, call the book “superb.” Kirby writes about the apparently accidental distortion for the Tribune. Here’s an excerpt from his short essay:

I e-mailed people in various fields and asked what they knew about pull quotes.

Someone who once worked in publishing wrote: “I remember when I was at Random House that it was common practice for the publicity department to definitely pull words and phrases out of context for the quotes on the back of the book jacket . . . ”

Thus a jacket might trumpet “Amazing . . . constantly surprises . . . great fun for the reader” when the actual quote was something like “Amazing piece of drivel that constantly surprises with its total and complete inanity, thus providing great fun for the reader who truly knows the difference between competent writing and complete ineptitude.”

That’s not what happened in my case, though, since I hadn’t used the word “superb” at all.

I said “Oblivion” is an extremely demanding read, a hyper-realistic type of fiction with sophisticated philosophical underpinnings and a worthy book in many ways, though one intended for readers with very specialized tastes — in other words, not a beach novel.

(Thanks to Tim of Travelers Diagram for the link.)

Incidentally, if you’re into Wallace and e-books, you can download Oblivion in Adobe Acrobat format. (Via The Howling Fanotods.)


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