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Home News by Category General Updates The Unfinished Novel - The Pale King

The Unfinished Novel - The Pale King

More from the New Yorker, this time about DFW's unfinished third novel [quoted from the essay below] -which Little, Brown plans to publish next year—expands on the virtues of mindfulness and sustained concentration.
Two pages from the manuscript of 'The Pale King' and artwork from David Foster Wallace's wife, Karen Green.
The Unfinished, D. T. Max's amazing essay about DFW including details about his third novel, 'The Pale King'.
Spoiler Note: If you have not yet read/finished Infinite Jest or The Broom of the System be careful, there are a number of spoilers, including the final lines from both novels. There is also substantional info about 'The Pale King' so be careful re: its publication next year.
The essay is a tremendous and moving read with substantial reference to DFW's life and works (but watch the spoilers).
(The previous post Wiggle Room, is an excerpt from the unfinished novel).
Edit: I've been updating this post while reading D. T. Max's essay. It was not an easy read, particularly its closing pages.
Confirmed excerpts from 'The Pale King':
Good People - The New Yorker Feb 2007 (Shares a character with Wiggle Room, Lane Dean Jr.)
The Compliance Branch (link to pdf) - Harper's Magazine Feb 2008 (First at Le Conversazioni 2006 as untitled excerpt from something lomger that isn't even close to halfway finished yet)
Wiggle Room - The New Yorker March 2009 
Irrelevant Bob (? Speculation: from the note at the top of page one) Page 1 , Page 2 - The New Yorker March 2009
Possible excerpts (pure speculation, but based on DFW's reference to them as fragments):
Three fragments from a longer thing available as an audio reading by DFW and a transcribed pdf.
A 'fragment' DFW read at the New Mexico State University in 2007. It was about "a father/husband who was killed when part of him got caught in the closing doors of a subway train, and his family's attempts to deal with it". The reading was at least 30 minutes. (Thanks to Evan who contacted me about this back in 0ct 08, this is still a mystery, did anyone else hear it?)
Research for 'The Pale King'
A research quote from the New Yorker Essay:

Wallace began the research for “The Pale King” shortly after the
publication of “Infinite Jest.” He took accounting classes. He studied
I.R.S. publications. “You should have seen him with our accountant,”
Karen Green remembers. “It was like, ‘What about the ruling of 920S?’
” He enjoyed mastering the technicalities of the I.R.S.
bureaucracy—its lore, mind-set, vocabulary.

Remember this old conversation from 1998 between Gus Van Sant and DFW
from Dazed and Confused?

DFW: I'm on leave this year. I'm auditing a class but I'm not
teaching. The class I'm auditing is a real bitch but somehow I'm
holding on at a high C or low B.

GVS: What's the class?

DFW: It's ah, it's advanced tax accounting, which is a long story and
you probably don't want to know about it but it's wa-a-a-y over my
little noggin'. It's a Will Hunting class.

GVS: Oh my God.

DFW: 35 pages of incredibly dense, you know, CPA stuff at night and
then you get tested on it the next day.

Full conversation:
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 March 2009 16:05  

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