Wednesday, 20 April 2011

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (2011)

I saw pale kings, and mid-West life,
Pale IRS men, death-pale were they all;
All crying --"Dave Foster Wallace, dead,
Hath thee in thrall."


Ruzzock said...

Good then is it?

I liked his short reportage and in principle I like the Infinite Jest, apart from my inability to get more than 1/3rd of the way through it.

Such a shame that his illness got too much for him.

Adam Roberts said...

It is good, although I can't shake a slight sense of disappointment. Before I read it, from what I'd heard, I got the impression that it was going to be: basically a scrappy assemblage of elements of varying quality, without any final coherence or real shape, some unfinished writing, some excellent writing in the now-famous DFW-idiom. And reading it, well it was exactly like that. Which is disappointing, I think -- the fact that the book played out just as I expected it to, I mean -- because my experience of reading Infinite Jest was that it continually surprised and amazed me.

I did wonder whether the unfinished-ness of it might prove unimportant (IJ isn't really 'finished', in a conventional sense, either); but I'm afraid it. Some superb set-pieces, and lots of extraordinary close-close-attention description of the world and people in the world; but it reads more like a rag-bag of short-ish separate pieces than a 'novel', even a DFW-novel.

Andy said...

I love the way the first couple of ages (having received this for my birthday today, the first couple of pages is where I'm currently at) present the classic DFW tonal shift, from the wonderfully vivid, almost hallucinatory and yet surgically precise description of the Midwest landcape steaming in the heat, the exhortation to read the worm trails baked into the mud, and then straight into the kind of broad comedy of the "Consolidated Thust" airline experience. It reminds me of when I first read "Girl With Curious Hair" years ago and was stunned by his apparent ability to switch registers at will. Unbelievable linguistic facility.