I must respectfully disagree about Oblivion. I loved IJ, and the essays. But the goodness of IJ was certainly not dependent on the “neat ideas” in it – the film, for instance, that you watch until you die. Those are nice, but they are secondary to the life of the book, which is the language and the characters — who are entirely palpable in their language spheres. Oblivion is almost entirely written in the same infinitely recursive, smart grad school style. The one story that breathed was the George Saunder’s influenced Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Otherwise, the mannerisms seem (like the black widow spiders in that story) to have wholly taken over a number of stories that, pared down, are often nothing more than sub-Thurbian New Yorker sketches — albeith with scatology thrown in. That a book can be written in such a way that the language seems, at first, opaque to the reader doesn’t bother me — I’m a big fan of J.R. But these stories lack Wallace’s self adminstered antidote to his own intelligence — his ability to imitate other voices. Intelligence alone is merely a multiple choice test. And who wants to read one of them — or three hundred pages of them?