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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel

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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780316074223
ISBN10: 0316074225
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

If I told you this book consists of 500+ pages detailing the inner workings of the massive bureaucracy that is the Internal Revenue Service as well as the interior lives of the people who work there, you'd probably tell me it sounds like a great way to cure insomnia. But Wallace successfully invests his characters and their surroundings with an almost mystical air, suggesting that what lies on the other side of utter dullness is brilliant transcendence — a point that is driven home when you reach the end of the book and realize you don't want to stop reading.
Recommended by Nathan W., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

About the Author

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

cyberdelik, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by cyberdelik)
The Pale King is filled with sentiment celebrated in "Infinite Jest". However, while the latter novel felt cynically humorous, the former is layered with constant undercurrents of doom, given the tragic note on which the writing comes to a halt. Putting such matters aside isn't possible, nor necessary to dive into this tale: in fact, the backdrop of Wallace's emotional state while writing The King adds to the novel's tone. In the end and based on The Pale King, Wallace appears to have yearned for sincerity, not cynicism, all along. Very prescient, sad, emotional reading...
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Burt, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Burt)
A great novel that would have been even greater if DFW had completed it himself.
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normanday, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by normanday)
the last from one of the best
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316074223
Author:
Wallace, David Foster
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6 x 1.5 in 1.42 lb

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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel Used Trade Paper
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 592 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316074223 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

If I told you this book consists of 500+ pages detailing the inner workings of the massive bureaucracy that is the Internal Revenue Service as well as the interior lives of the people who work there, you'd probably tell me it sounds like a great way to cure insomnia. But Wallace successfully invests his characters and their surroundings with an almost mystical air, suggesting that what lies on the other side of utter dullness is brilliant transcendence — a point that is driven home when you reach the end of the book and realize you don't want to stop reading.

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