[Wallace] has the vocabulary. He has the energy. He has the big ideas. He has the attitude. Yet too often he sounds like a hyperarticulate Tin Man. Maybe this is concentrated version of how we all sound lately. Data-dazed. Cybernetic. Overstimulated. Maybe this is the voice of the true now. Or maybe genius, like language, can’t do everything, and maybe the Wizard should give the guy a heart.
Longtime readers of this site know I’m not really a Wallace fan, although while I was in Canada Steph convinced me to read “Good Old Neon” and the title essay of “A Supposedly Funny Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” and I was more impressed with both of these than with anything I’d read previously. The cruise ship essay actually moved me. Still, if “Good Old Neon” is really “the most personal and approachable of the stories in the new book,” I’ll probably give Oblivion a miss.
If you’re in New York City tomorrow night, you can judge Wallace for yourself when George Saunders interviews him at 7 p.m., at The Public Theater. Saunders has previously expressed admiration for DFW’s work.