I am relieved to announce I have lived up to my vow to read the 2012 Pulitzer Prize trilogy of finalists who were passed over (indeed, no prize was awarded); and have with some difficulty, lived through “The Pale King,” David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel.
Certainly the most complex, the longest, of the three candidates ("Train Dreams" and "Swamplandia" the other two candidates), as an audio book it proved challenging without printed (visible) markers to identify when the story would make a first-gear leap into fifth (a continuous disorientation of ever-changing themes). The characters were really pretty unlikable, or at least unwarm-uppable to. And of course, the basic landscape, the IRS, was not a topic I really cared to learn much about; after all, I know more than I need by simply being a citizen trying to avoid getting creamed.
Beyond the opening, negative comments, Wallace’s stream-of-consciousness writing ultimately arrested me, albeit somewhat late into the read. Raised in the Midwest myself, I realized that I knew these people, that they populated my neighborhoods, my living room, as I was growing up. Aswim in details, lost in tedious jobs, jockeying for promotions, and living even more banal lives outside of work, I developed perhaps a camaraderie for these misfits and sympathy toward their compulsive, eccentric, and left-brained worlds. And, yes, I learned more about the IRS that I care to share, primarily because none of it is useful in the pay-less-tax arena.
Recommend this book? Well, I did suggest to my CPA to read it. And I have become compulsed to pick up Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” his landmark book that catapulted him to heady fame. So perhaps not a must-read, but something to consider. Bear in mind this reviewer attempted to read Ulysses 3 times and never managed to read past the toilet scene.
Yes, because the point is not just a linear narrative -- lots of things going on that intertwine, and it isn't clear the first time around how that is happening.
I can't help comparing it to other David Foster Wallace books. Any DFW fan would, I think, find this of interest, but the fact that he died before finishing it, and someone else put it together and got it into print makes assessing it problematical.
I haven't listened to any other Robert Petkoss performances, but I liked this one very much.
I was reading the print edition and got bogged down about halfway through. I got this, hoping it would help me get through it, and it did, but the book itself is just -- erratic. Some parts much more interesting than others.
I wanted to like and gave it every chance. Ultimately when the book was done, the first words out if my mouth were, "glad that's over." Writing was great and performance was exceptional, but its ultimately a totally forgettable tale.
David Foster Wallace is one of the few writers that can pull you in so deep. as long as you can stay with ham and maintain focus when he goes hyper realistic you will be rewarded. That being said it is difficult to always maintain that Focus. also he tends to go dark and sad and bleak so if you're trying to be positive and stay happy not always the best author. it is amazing his ability to sum up complex subjects such as the American zeitgeist, politics, and culture in a way that is easy to understand and profoundly demystifying in a weird way. David was the man.
Don't think I would.
Never quite got to a point to pull my interest. Each time I got into the story, it wandered away.
Long, long descriptions.
I just found the author too wordy and it felt like the story was going in circles. It is the first book in a long time that I just had to abandon.