Why Walter Kirn Should Take a Vacation

Exhibit: Kirn’s review of David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion.

Number of words in review: 1,399.
Number of words quoted from book in review: 186
Percentage of quoted excerpts as part of review: 13%
Approximate fair use percentage under dispute in the infamous Gerald Ford/Nation dust-up: 13.3%
Number of times “anxious” or “anxiety” is mentioned: 2.
Number of parenthetical asides: 6
Number of onerous Tom Swify adverbs (not counting quotes): 17
Number of prefix-laden non-words: 7 (“maladapts,” “decontextualized,” “hyperfocused,” “microtextures,” “superbrain,””hyperarticulate,” “overstimulated”)
The Pain Reliver Commercial Homage Award: “Data-dazed. Cybernetic. Overstimulated.”

Back to hiatus.


  1. This was just wonderful. I kinda felt it was the jack-Mormon in Walter “I’m-the-genuis-of-my-age” Kirn that made him pan Wallace like that. Sometimes I think the Times editors might actually ask their reviewers to write “that review.”

  2. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Read Again

    From yet another review of David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion:And there, perhaps unfairly decontextualized (to use a Wallace-type word), you have…

Comments are closed.