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David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Home The Pale King

The Pale King

The Pale King

2011

Launch Events List - click here.
My Personal and spoiler free impressions of The Pale King:

Reviews (Oldest First):
  • stlmag.com review by Kyle Beachy (28/3/11) Spoilers. Awesome review.
  • David Kipen's audio review on KPCC (13/4/11) Spoilers. Second link on the page is to an old 2004 interview with DFW for City Arts & Lectures.
  • There's a spectacular review of The Pale King by Tom McCarthy in the Sunday book review, David Foster Wallace: The Last Audit. An absolute must-read if you've finished The Pale King. If not, come back to it because it is filled with spoilers.
  • Stephen Marche's National Post Review. Spoilers and the most negative one I've read so far. (15/4/11)
  • Hari Kunzru's Financial Times Review, Final Accounts. Spoilers (15/4/11)
  • James Lasdun's review for The Guardian. Spoilers. (16/4/11)
  • Derek Sagehorn's review for The Daily Californian, The Long Goodbye. Spoilers. (18/4/11)
  • Emmett Stinson's review for Readings. Spoilers.
  • Jonathan Raban's review/overview of David Foster Wallace and The Pale King for the May 12th Issue of the New York Review of Books, Divine Drudgery is first. Spoilers (Due 14/5/11).
  • A review of The Pale King over at BoingBoing.net . Spoliers (21/4/11)
  • Michael Sayeau's review for The Observer at guardian.co.uk. Spoilers. (24/4/11)
  • Paul Constant's review for The Stranger, The King Is Dead. Spoilers. (12/4/11)
  • Stephen Marche's review for the Edmonton Journal, A great novelist without a great novel, is best read for a laugh. From the content of this review I seriously doubt he read the book, or has read any Wallace. Hard to find spoilers... (1/5/11)
  • Of Books and Reading Review. (12/5/11)

Non-Review Updates (latest first):
  • Stranger than The Pale King, Judd's post over at Pretty Random about The Pale King and Stranger than Fiction (Sounds like I'll have to check out this film!). (8/8/11)
  • Scott D. Moringiello's piece over at the Verdicts blog, David Foster Wallace, ora pro nobis, considers The Pale King and the light it sheds on Sean Kelly and Hubert Dreyfus’s All Things Shining. (6/7/11)
  • Aaron Eisen's, The Taxonomy of Surplus, for The Cavalier Daily. (29/4/11) Besides an unfinished manuscript, the late David Foster Wallace left a manual for life and writing.
  • 3 Quarks Daily's, Morgan Meis: David Foster Wallace's Final Book is Boring. (30/6/11) "David Foster Wallace's final book is boring. On that, everyone seems to agree. We understand, too, that Wallace intended it to be boring." No, no, no! I'm sure it wasn't just me that found it quite the opposite of boring?
  • Don't forget about the fantastic posts about The Pale King over at The Pale Spring!
  • Video from the PEN Centre Pale King Event.
  • Report about The Wheeler Centre David Foster Wallace event in Melbourne, Australia. (20/4/11)
  • A tumblr based reading group for The Pale King - The Pale Spring. (19/4/11)
  • Michael Pietsch interview on Public Radio International and WNYC's The Takeaway. Includes audio interview too.
  • Tax tips from The Pale King over at Galley Cat. These amount to spoilers from the main text of TPK if you are trying to avoid everything. (8/4/11)
  • Daily Beast novelist round-table about The Pale King co-ordinated by Seth Colter Walls. Lots of love for DFW and The Pale King in this one. Quite a few significant spoilers though. Come back to it once you've read the novel. (8/4/11)

 

The Pale King News Archive


 

The Simple Ranger Section Guide for The Pale King Major Spoiler! A section by section run down of the book.

Order The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel from Amazon.com

Set at an IRS tax-return-processing center in Illinois in the mid-1980s, The Pale Kingis the story of a crew of entry-level processors and their attempts to do their job in the face of soul-crushing tedium. “The Pale Kingmay be the first novel to make accountants and IRS agents into heroes,” says Bonnie Nadell, Wallace’s longtime agent and literary executor. Michael Pietsch, Little, Brown’s publisher and The Pale King’s editor, says, “Wallace takes agonizing daily events like standing in lines, traffic jams, and horrific bus rides — things we all hate — and turns them into moments of laughter and understanding. Although David did not finish the novel, it is a surprisingly whole and satisfying reading experience that showcases his extraordinary imaginative talents and his mixing of comedy and deep sadness in scenes from daily life.”
Little, Brown will publish 'The Pale King' on April 15 2011 (read the Sep 14 press release)—expands on the virtues of mindfulness and sustained concentration. (From 'The Unfinished' by D. T. Max see below)
StarTribune.com has run an AP update about The Pale King:
Little, Brown said in a statement Sunday that the novel runs "several hundred thousand words and will include notes, outlines, and other material."
The most interesting tidbit is from EW.com (David Foster Wallace novel 'The Pale King' due in 2010) [DFW's editor Michael Pietsch] told EW exclusively that upon publication Little, Brown will create a website to make large chunks of the manuscript available to fans, so they can see how the book came together and "have a detailed sense of Wallace as a working writer."
Info from Michael Pietsch at the MLA09 DFW Panel:
  • DFW had been working on TPK since 1996.
  • It's had a number of working titles: "Glitterer," "SJF "(which stood for Sir John Feelgood), and "What is Peoria For?"
  • Some of the pieces of short fiction collected elsewhere are chapters of the novel including "The Soul Is Not a Smithy" and "Incarnations of Burned Children." (No clarification if this means they are part of TPK, Nick)
  • Wallace did extensive research for the novel in accounting, tax processes, an so forth. (Check out the DFW Research notes at the bottom of the page here)
  • There are more than 1000 pages of manuscript, in 150 unique chapters; the novel will be published in time for tax day in April 2011. (With a number of publication date changes already I'd say this is not yet set in stone, Nick)
  • The subject of the novel is boredom. The opening of the book instructs the reader to go back and read the small type they skipped on the copyright page, which details the battle with publishers over their determination to call it fiction, when it's all 100% true. The narrator, David Foster Wallace, is at some point confused with another David F. Wallace by IRS computers, pointing to the degree to which our lives are filled with irrelevant complexity.
  • The finished book is expected to be more than 400 pages, and will be explicitly subtitled "An Unfinished Novel"; the plan is to make available the drafts and phases the text went through on a website that will exist alongside the book. Pietsch is editing the book in close collaboration with Bonnie Nadell and the estate, but as we've heard him say before, he sees his role very clearly as attempting to order the text into a unified whole, and not making changes that the author isn't there to argue with.

Confirmed excerpts from 'The Pale King':
  • Peoria (9) 'Whispering Pines' from TriQuarterly #112, June 2002. (Start of Chap 8 in TPK, numerous changes)
  • Good People - The New Yorker Feb 2007 (Shares a character with Wiggle Room, Lane Dean Jr.) [Analysis]
  • Irrelevant Bob (Title Speculation: from the note at the top of page one. April 11: This is part of the Irrelevent Chris Fogle section) Page 1 , Page 2 - The New Yorker March 2009
  • A short passage about the childhood of a girl called Peoria who works for the IRS was read during To The Best of Our Knowledge (Section 2 from 32:15).
  • Backbone - The New Yorker, March 7 2011 (This is one of the Lannan Foundation fragments, see below).
  • All That- The New Yorker December 2009 (Even though confirmed as an excerpt in back '09 it doesn't appear in TPK).

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 at the Lannan Foundation by DFW and a transcribed pdf. It is now confirmed that at least one of these fragments will be in The Pale King - Backbone.

and

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?)

Possible Chapters (based on Micheal Pietsch's comments at the MLA09 Panel) These were not in the final publication:

The already published shorts "The Soul Is Not a Smithy" and Incarnations of Burned Children may be (or may have been) shorter chapters in the novel. Kathleen Fitzpatrick writes:

And finally, Michael Pietsch discussed The Pale King; I madly took notes, but they’re a little disjointed. Pietsch says Wallace had been working on since 1996, and the novel went through various working titles, including “Glitterer,” “SJF” (which stood for Sir John Feelgood), and “What is Peoria For?” As we’ve heard, Wallace did extensive research for the novel in accounting, tax processes, and so forth. What I hadn’t heard before today was that various pieces we’ve seen in stand-alone form are in fact chapters of the novel, including “The Soul Is Not a Smithy” and “Incarnations of Burned Children.” Pietsch is working with more than 1000 pages of manuscript, in 150 unique chapters; the novel will be published in time for tax day in April 2011. As we know, the subject of the novel is boredom. The opening of the book instructs the reader to go back and read the small type they skipped on the copyright page, which details the battle with publishers over their determination to call it fiction, when it’s all 100% true. The narrator, David Foster Wallace, is at some point confused with another David F. Wallace by IRS computers, pointing to the degree to which our lives are filled with irrelevant complexity. The finished book is expected to be more than 400 pages, and will be explicitly subtitled “An Unfinished Novel”; the plan is to make available the drafts and phases the text went through on a website that will exist alongside the book. Pietsch is editing the book in close collaboration with Bonnie Nadell and the estate, but as we’ve heard him say before, he sees his role very clearly as attempting to order the text into a unified whole, and not making changes that the author isn’t there to argue with.

[Via Kathleen Fitzpatrick at Planned Obsolescence]


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).

DFW 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: http://www.badgerinternet.com/%7Ebobkat/dazed.html

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 17:51  

The Howling Fantods