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Home News by Category The Pale King GQ Review of The Pale King

GQ Review of The Pale King

Fantastic article about David Foster Wallace and The Pale King in GQ by John Jeremiah Sullivan, Too Much Information.
Once again, plot spoilers if you don't want to know anything about the book, but also one of the best reviews so far:
The Pale King is different. He left us this book—the people closest to him agree that he wanted us to see it. This is not, in other words, a classic case of Posthumous Great Novel, where scholars have gone into an estate and unearthed a manuscript the author would probably never want read. Wallace seems to have laid this book before us in an all but do-with-it-what-you-will sort of way. Supposedly one of his last acts on earth was to arrange the most-ready pages and leave them in a place where his wife, the artist Karen Green, could find them. His notebooks led to the identification of partial chapters, which his longtime editor Michael Pietsch has assembled into something like a draft of the novel as it might have looked in Wallace's head—more polished than that, in places, less so in others. Think of a big mural that was half done. 
You'd be forgiven for suspecting that a book about random people who work for the government sounds insufferably tedious. The reason it's not has to do with the word about—it's the wrong word, the wrong preposition. Wallace doesn't write about his characters; he hadn't in a long time. He writes into them. That thing he could do on a tennis court or a cruise ship, or at a porn convention, that made him both an inspiration and a maddening, envy-making presence for the scores like me who learned to do "magazine writing" in his shadow (he was one of those writers who, even when you weren't sounding like him, made you think about how you weren't sounding like him)—Wallace liked to do that, in his fiction, with his characters' interior lives. 

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Last Updated on Friday, 01 April 2011 05:42  

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