The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Piecing Together Wallace?s Posthumous Novel

Charles McGrath's article for The New York Times Books, Piecing Together Wallace’s Posthumous Novel is well worth a look, but as always spoilers if you haven't read TPK yet:
Some readers have pointed out, however, that in addition to passages of breathtaking brilliance, the novel, like the tax code, also contains sections so eye-glazing they ought to come with a warning advising readers to wait a while before driving or operating heavy machinery.
Wallace’s following verges on the cultlike, and some of his admirers will doubtless argue that such passages are deliberate, an attempt to evoke one of the novel’s main themes, which is the nature of boredom itself. Others may wonder whether the author, a renowned perfectionist, would have revised the text had he lived, and even whether, in its unfinished state, “The Pale King” should have been published at all. Wallace, the maximalist author of “Infinite Jest” and lover of the extended footnote, was such a fusser that when it came to the mechanics of editing, a suggestion to add or delete a comma could turn into a debate over the history of punctuation itself.
“He would never have wanted it to be published in an imperfect form if he had lived to finish it, but he was not alive to finish it,” Mr. Pietsch said. He added that Wallace, normally a ruthless tosser of notes, correspondence and drafts that he didn’t want, had not only preserved the “Pale King” manuscript, but left an apparently finished 250-page section in the center of his desk. “To me, the fact that he left those pages on his work table is proof he wanted the book published,” Mr. Pietsch said.