The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, IL, 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 intriguing 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 ultimate value of work and family--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 a writer who dared to take on the most daunting subjects the human spirit can imagine.
In his lifetime he was lauded and bombarded by critics and obsessed and fawned over by readers; upon his tragic death in 2008 he was proclaimed a genius by nearly everyone. David Foster Wallace was and remains a large-looming figure American literature. Because of his notoriety, this posthumously published novel--which was left incomplete, fragmented, and disarrayed by the author and then painstakingly and thoughtfully assembled by Wallace's editor Michael Pietsche--will no doubt repel some readers as strongly as it will enthrall others. It is not a neat, orderly book. But it's not likely that Wallace intended to write such a book anyway. The plot, which is set in 1985 and centers around some IRS newbies (including one named David Foster Wallace) at the Peoria, Illinois, REC (Regional Examination Center), is clearly not the author's central focus. With his unique gift for molding language, Wallace, however, richly explores broader philosophical affronts on contemporary life: ennui, bureaucracy, boredom, isolation, lassitude, finding meaning in life and work, tedium, and the foundations of basic human dignity. A truly remarkable assemblage, THE PALE KING will be certain to generate much though and self-reflection from its readers.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
- Human Qualities + Behavior, Work + the Workplace, Literary
- Little, Brown & Co
- Large Print
- April 15, 2011
- April 15, 2011
- David Foster Wallace