Review of “Oblivious Obsolescence” by Don Nigroni

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There isn’t a plot to this one. The narrator is reacting to a November 1980 article he (?) read, presumably in 2019, about occupations that became obsolete in the twentieth century: switchboard operator, elevator operator, iceman, cigarette girl, and pinsetter. The narrator and generations of his family have followed one now-obsolete occupation—yeah, thanks very much, modern technology!— which was once invaluable to humanity and for which they are uniquely qualified.


As for obsolete jobs, I worked as a switchboard operator for some years after the putative article was written. I had to spend a couple seconds thinking about what a pinsetter is. Was.

In the narrator’s case, it’s not merely a matter of learning new skills and getting a new job. The family has a unique talent for obtaining material necessary for human life, yet it’s no longer needed.

Times change. Memories fade.

This tale is short, all leading up to a single punchline. I liked it.


According to his blurb, author Don Nigroni received a BS in economics from Saint Joseph’s University and a MA in philosophy from Notre Dame and worked as an economist for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has been published in Ambit, Asymmetry Fiction, Mystery Tribune, 365 tomorrows, and 50-Word Stories. In addition, his poetry has appeared in Candelabrum and Mystery Time.

The story can be read here.

Title: “Oblivious Obsolescence”
Author: Don Nigroni
First published: October 9, 2020 Theme of Absence

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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