David F.W. ha vuelto

David F.W. ha vuelto El Hombre ha regresado, esta vez con una colección de ocho relatos que, según cuentan los que los han leído, son capaces de pegar al lector al asiento y dejarle babeando como si de una peli de James Incandenza se tratase. He aquí una reseña de The Howling Fantods:

Oblivion: Stories
A collection for which David Foster Wallace will not be forgotten.

The eight stories brought together in Oblivion make for the most consistent and thought provoking collection of shorts published by David Foster Wallace in his career thus far. I know; this is a big call.

The casual Wallace reader will experience new stories of marketing espionage (Mister Squishy), reminiscences of childhood trauma (The Soul is Not a Smithy), parental fear (Incarnations of Burned Children), stunningly obfuscated philosophical sociology (Another Pioneer), harrowing and enlightening personal interrogation (Good Old Neon), possibly more social philosophy (Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature), a complexly troubled relationship (Oblivion), and a closing story that defies even the lame and possibly offensive pigeonholing I’ve given to all of the others (because, well, this is a short review not an essay, and I refuse to spoil any of it); a story that screams out to be acknowledged for its post 9/11 reflection, while at the same time stares me in the face with menace for even suggesting this (and boy does The Suffering Channel stand above a simplistic post 9/11 reading… no surprises there).

The style is characteristically and familiarly ‘Wallace’ and at the same time demonstrates a distinct evolution across all stories: the sentences are noticeably shorter, and footnotes are few and far between. What hasn’t changed is the depth, Wallace’s text still reads like a person who sees the tip of the iceberg and knows the majority of it lies under the surface. I’m just glad I don’t have the same diving equipment, because what’s to be discovered down there can be terrifying, and it’s not just the dark.

I mentioned it above, consistency. My initial thought upon completion was that the title story was the weakest of the collection. In fact, I was mightily disappointed with Oblivion, even more so because it made up half of what, to me, was new material in this collection.

I was wrong.

Oblivion, and everything that I wanted to forget about it would not be forgotten. I could not shake it, and thus I read it again, and again. The more I wanted to dismiss the story, the greater was its grasp upon me, I still find myself unable to articulate quite why this is. What I can be certain of is that I feel resonances from Oblivion throughout the collection.

For the fan(atic) who has already got their hands on everything Wallace has written since the previous collection, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, only the final two shorts in the collection are unfamiliar, Oblivion and The Suffering Channel. This should not be seen as a loss as this collection enables all to be experienced side by side; for the themes to interweave, for the reality and unreality of these tales to breed and multiply. This collection is a sleeper; when you finally wake to it you will not be able to push it from the dark corners of your mind easily (nor shine a torch there just to check that nothing is lurking, watching, waiting for you to turn your back on it).

Private fears, memories, social interaction and psychological warfare; some of the stories in Oblivion consider unspeakable aspects of life we wish we could push to irretrievable parts of our consciousness, if only they let us. You’ll have to do the best that you can, because this collection does everything it can to avoid its own fate.

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