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PEN Event Report


Marco Carbone attended the Pen Event, Everything and More: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, asked a question, took notes and wrote it up for wallace-l. I understand a recording may be available soon, but until then this is the best we've got.
There's some great stuff in here, as well as a clarification about why All That didn't end up in The Pale King and more about The Soul is Not a Smity and Adult World (1) and (2) as originally intended for TPK.
Reproduced with permission, over to Marco:
It was a pleasant event, with Rick Moody, Sandro Veronesi (Italian novelist who was instrumental in getting the first translation of IJ -- the Italian one -- published), and Michael Pietsch as panelists and Salon's Laura Miller as moderator. Mostly they talked about their thoughts on Wallace, The Pale King, etc and it was nice just to sit back and listen to intelligent people discuss something dear to me. Moody read §1 in a slow, deliberate manner that truly brought out its poetic nature. There was a Q&A at the end.

Here are a few bits of info/stories that were new to me:

* Pietsch, when asked about he chose the beginning §, reiterated that the current §1 was one of several sections marked as a possible beginning by Wallace. He mentioned that the § that begins "'Speaking of which, what do you think of when you masturbate?'" as another marked possibility.

* §1 and §8 (Toni Ware) were both labeled as "Poetic" pieces by Wallace in his notes, and Pietsch implied that Wallace took much pleasure in writing them.

* During the Q&A, I asked about pieces that were ambiguous as to whether they should be included or not, and asked about the exclusion of "All That." Pietsch answered that he couldn't tie the narrator character of All That to any of the characters in the novel, so he decided not to put it in. He confirmed that Adult World (1), Adult World (2), and The Soul is not a Smithy were all pieces that Wallace originally intended for The Pale King, but for whatever reason decided to publish them as short stories instead.

* Moody told a story about Jonathan Lethem calling him from his office in Pomona and talking about how strange it is that some of Wallace's academic books are still in his office.

* Pietsch told a story about one time when Wallace was in NYC, and he found an opportunity to play a tennis match in Central Park against a woman who happened to be a former (I think) professional tennis player. Wallace defeated her and was giddy and "gleeful" about his victory. Pietsch also said that Wallace tried to get him to play tennis with him, indicating that he (Wallace) was very good adjusting his placement of the ball just outside of the skill level of his current opponent (so as to help make that opponent a better player).

* Veronesi talked about a complete, out-loud reading of the Italian translation of IJ in Rome in 2000, which Wallace watched parts of over the internet. Wallace then recorded the final line (in Italian!) on an answering machine and that was played at the end of the reading.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013 14:11  


#1 crazymonk 2011-04-28 03:34
Correction: Pietsch said (and I meant to say) the "character" in All That, not the "narrator."
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