“Wallace is deeply suspicious of novelty, even as he scrambles to position himself on the cutting edge. His earlier collection of short fiction, Girl With Curious Hair (1989), concludes with a novella called “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way,” which is at once a scabrous satire on the academic authority of the ci-devant avant-garde and a virtuoso compendium of tried and true avant-garde techniques. It features authorial intrusions in the manner of John Barth; whimsical collages of wild fabulation and deadpan realism that recall Richard Brautigan, or maybe middle-period Kurt Vonnegut; and long, long sentences in the style of Donald Barthelme. The proceedings are shot through with an air of wild Pynchonian intrigue.”

– A. O. Scott, in “The Panic of Influence” (from The New York Review of Books)