. Escapades in the modern adventure of breakdown, trauma, disasters personal and public, statistics and America. In brief:
: An acute rendering of familial and relationship barbs and double repressions/undercurrents emerging. Nightmaric statisticians’ language.
• Another Pioneer
: not as effective, but nonetheless an inaresting variant of the meta-story — using the academic jargon of narrative theory to convey a very simple mythic/folkloric story.
• Good Old Neon
: already commented on at length. Still one of the stronger pieces.
• The Soul is Not a Smithy
: near-perfect DFW short story form and theme. Restrained, precise (geometrically and language-wise), multi-POV/media discursive. An acute yet distanced (in the sense of character abstraction) view of breakdown.
• Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
: great, near-farce/empathy comedy. Strange lead persona with lethal spider expertise, vis. Squishy’s home poison brewer. Intrusions/undercurrents of crime.
• The Suffering Channel
: novella. The novelist in DFW is still kicking, if dormant. Again multi-POV/media. Large ensemble. A large woman (collection-trope, cf Lurch in Mr Squishy); dry humour (restrained), explicit previsions of 9/11, stories about shit (though never using the words ‘void’ or ‘evacuation’, to my remembrance). Immersion in the jargon and discourse of Human Interest stories/journalists/editorial departments. The interns and their clothes, down to the label, and effectiveness of combination. Super-precise language: always the right, non-clichéd choice (would score high on the Amis scale); for instance, using ‘institutional’ politics when he’s clearly talking about Office politics. Near-novelistic (near because not central) attempt at big meaning/theme (the big frame): celebrity/media vis. TV and reality programming drawn to a logical extreme (celebrity shitting). Quote:
The paradoxical intercourse of audience and celebrity. The suppressed awareness that the whole reason ordinary people found celebrity fascinating was that they were not, themselves, celebrities. That wasn’t quite it… It was more the deeper, more tragic and universal of which the celebrity paradox was a part. The conflict between the subjective centrality of our own lives versus the awareness of its objective insignificance… The management of insignificance. It was the great syncretic bond of US monoculture. (p284 US edition)
Note thematic and structural nearness to Infinite jest
. So there is hope that a novel will one day come again. But the range of Oblivion is still fascinating. Immersion in varieties of discourse (esp. statistics, marketing, medico-insurance related). On the whole: satisfying, but left hungry for more comedy and scope/inclusiveness/precise-epics.
Also, interesting to read David Byrne’s tour-log
: Inaresting quote:
Sign on a [Russian] restaurant toilet: "Don't Put Anything In Here You Haven't Already Eaten"
Also, been getting much satisfaction from Neil Young’s Decade
collection. Especially Sugar Mountain. And Talking Heads’ Remain in Light
. And Milt Jackson’s Reverence and Compassion
. And Ornette’s Complete Science Fiction Sessions
. And Sinatra Live in Paris with Sextet
. And Sigur Ros, occasionally. And some Boards of Canada. And Brian Blade’s Perceptual
New creative guideline/motto/watermark for self: The genius of Godard; the power & virtuosity of Hendrix; the bite of Bill Hicks and the precision of David Foster Wallace.