The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Herald Scotland Review of The Pale King

Colin Waters reviews The Pale King for Herald Scotland (some spoilers):
When credit first crunched at the end of the last decade, some commentators worried the economy was fraying because of the complexity of market mechanisms that were stalling. How could the public have an opinion on, or demand politicians better scrutinise, financial transactions seemingly designed to outwit all comprehension? Related to that, critics pointed out that high finance was one sector of life and work that novelists had on the whole shied away from chronicling, an observation that showed a touching, perhaps nostalgic, faith in the power of narrative to galvanise collective consciousness.

David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide at the moment the stock market began its prolonged nervous breakdown, left behind an unfinished novel, The Pale King. It addresses the gap between taxpayers and the masters of their money. Despite tax’s centrality – the only certain thing, according to the saying, alongside death – and the emotions it arouses, it is rarely directly written about. And Wallace knew why: it’s boring.
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