The Pale King

The Pale King

An Unfinished Novel

Book - 2011
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The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780316074230
Branch Call Number: WALL
Characteristics: x, 548 p. ; 25 cm

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CMLReads_Kristin Aug 21, 2016

Fans of David Foster Wallace will appreciate this last, unfinished novel. Folks who haven't yet explored his oeuvre will be best served starting with other works that he would have considered finished...but this is a poignant ending of a brilliant career, cut short too soon.

c
cspteja
Jun 15, 2016

Don't be dissuaded by those that tried to read this book but found it too long, tedious, pedestrian, or wordy.

"The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breathe, so to speak, without air.

The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable.

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”

― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

r
rwfischer
Apr 14, 2016

I could not read this book, because of the writing style. The opening paragraph is 6 or 7 pages long. There are sentences that span almost the whole page. 3 or 4 more views, events or ideas are all combined in the same sentence.

a
adamj_gottlieb
Sep 04, 2015

Despite the tedium of the novel by the end I was rather engaged it would have been nice to know, beyond the notes, what DFW would have done to tie everything together.

s
stewstealth
Dec 05, 2014

Obviously not a completed work from DFW however there are some great bits and humorous nuggets that make plodding through some of tedious parts worthwhile. The whole idea of this book is about boredom and repetitive tedious work so of course the author includes the likes of accounting and taxes. Frankly this makes the funny parts better. If you can't read your tax forms maybe try another book. Worth reading if you are a fan of the author.

r
raymondlangbehn
Aug 16, 2014

the pale king is more accessible that infinite jest-in his novel chronic city jonathan lethem refers to infinite jest as "obstinate dust". time magazines lev grossman called the pale king wallace's best. like the bible, ulysses
or the iliad, the pale king has tedious passages interspersed with brilliant work.

crkrouse Jun 24, 2013

I tried reading this book twice and couldn't get through more than the first 10 pages both times. It's like reading every thought in the mind of a person with OCD. And the mind is pretty pedestrian to boot. It's my first David Foster Wallace novel. I'll try one of his others instead.

finally_finally Jun 06, 2011

Yes, it's unfinished (some of this surely would have been cut). No, it doesn't have an ending. Yes, it's sometimes tedious. But the tedium is sort of the point--the idea is that making it through the tedium and making it through work and making it through things you don't want to do is what life is about. This should obviously not be your first David Foster Wallace book (that is what Consider the Lobster or Brief Interviews with Hideous Men are for), but for devotees, there's a lot to adore.

carrilis Jun 02, 2011

This Unfinished Novel is just that . . . I couldn't finish it. Very wordy and difficult to get thru. I was really looking forward to reading this, as the newspaper review and the editor's note at the beginning of the book hyped it up. I just cannot read a book that I have to work at to get thru.

debwalker Apr 09, 2011

"An electric novel of ideas."
Matt Kavanagh
Globe & Mail April 8 2011

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