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The Pale King Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

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The Pale King + The Broom of the System: A Novel + Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 16 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (April 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609419758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609419752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.3 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Achingly funny, nothing short of sublime Publishers Weekly Rich and substantial and alive ... Wallace's finest work as a novelist Time The Pale King contains what's sure to be some of the finest fiction of the year ... he was the closest thing we had to a recording angel GQ Brilliant observation, and comic aside, and satirical nuance and existential theorising tumble over each other for the reader's attention ... as alive and affecting as anything Wallace wrote Observer Sometimes as a critic the most important part of your job is to say: here, this is it, we've found it, someone's doing it. That someone was Wallace. He was the real thing Evening Standard Although unfinished, this work refines Wallace's tradition as an originator of meticulously constructed sentences that simultaneously induce laughter, contemplation, empathy and sorrow, but which ultimately leave the reader somehow changed ... [Wallace] was not only the greatest writer of his generation, but one of the most important thinkers of the age Courier Mail Everyone who cares about literature should buy it The Age The Pale King gave me a pleasure and excitement that I can describe only as biological. That is to say, the book produced in me that very rare, warm, head-to-toe tingling that comes with admission to a paradise of language and intelligence -- Joseph O' Neill The Times Remarkable -- Jonathan Derbyshire New Statesman Fragmented, challenging, humorous and typically digressive, it is perhaps the most intriguing work of fiction ever written about boredom Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.

More About the Author

David Foster Wallace wrote the acclaimed novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes the essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and the full-length work Everything and More.  He died in 2008.

Customer Reviews

The Pale King is a work of pure genius, DFW's best writing, the only book I've read that is memetic of total human experience.
Joshua Fields Millburn
Alongside the humor are very real, personal, sad moments, or sometimes very sweet ones, and occasionally some philosophical conversation.
Doctor Gaines
The problem comes in that because this book was never finished, parts of it are so boring as to make the novel at times a difficult read.
Mike Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

279 of 308 people found the following review helpful By Elias Z on April 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are so many different reasons to love David Foster Wallace's work, and so many reasons to feel that his death ripped an irreparable hole in the fabric not just of literary culture in America, but also in our daily world. In everything he wrote, DFW was grappling with the hardest subject of all--what does it feel like to be alive, not generally, but specifically, in the here and now, with billions of details crashing through our fields of perception? For that reason, although always dark, his work shimmers with a kind of graceful light. He was a philosophical novelist in the way the great nineteenth century Russians were. He couldn't hide the fact that he loved people, and he loved teasing out the unique predicaments that people encounter by just being people who love things and hate things and want things and enjoy things and grow tired and jealous and bored.

These elements, and more, are abundantly available in The Pale King, DFW's unfinished novel. In terms of organization, it is understandably a huge mess, although neatened admirably by the editor. But who reads DFW for conventionally organized plots? And why should you read this novel? For starters:

1) The language. DFW is a masterful stylist, a brainiac who always could have sounded much more intellectual than he chose to, instead embracing an easy-going, colloquial tone because he wanted people to read his books. The opening lines of PK alone ring with the linguistic sensibility that sounds like him and him alone. His signature music courses through passage after passage. His verbal precision, so simple word-wise, gives a jolt by making you see things in a new, though until-now, overlooked, way.

2) The characters. Sure, they're a lot of them. Some will grab you, others won't.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Amber on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm going to start off by saying that this book made for one of the most frustrating reading experiences of my entire life. Before even considering reading TPK, know this: it is grossly, grossly unfinished. Wallace fictions are never a walk in the park. They usually never seem to "come together" the way most stories do. That's just not who Wallace was as a writer. Despite this, the amount of narrative threads that just sort of trail off and the almost total lack of anything even resembling a gesture towards a plot is a bit much, even for DFW. One gets the sense that we are reading nothing close to the completed Pale King we would've gotten had Wallace not eliminated his own map.

Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you: this book is amazing. Wallace meditates on heroism, boredom, civics, duty, attention, authorship, religion, family, love, language and nature with levels of grace, humor and wisdom that other contemporary writers could only dream of having. DFW sure has come a long way from the cold cerebral linguistic games of The Broom of the System and the mind-bending erudition of Infinite Jest. The Pale King showcases Wallace at his most accessible, most heartfelt and most mature.

Reading this book is like finding some pieces of a beautiful shattered urn. The shards in themselves are gorgeous, so much so that it makes the heart ache wondering how they're all meant to fit together, what the urn would look like if it were made whole. This doesn't make the broken pieces any less beautiful, though.
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50 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Rachel M. Helps on April 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
DFW relates in his notes on The Pale King: "Plot a series of set-ups for stuff happening, but nothing actually happens."

Nothing happens, but the nothing is so interestingly worded and in such comprehensive settings that reading about things like debilitating boredom and tax forms becomes, at times, pleasant. The book feels similar to Infinite Jest but seems less overarching (probably since TPK is half as long and unfinished). I was very happy to find actual, coherent, planned chapters in this unfinished work rather than a series of notecards (sorry Nabokov!). Characters seem absolutely believable and come with their own signature nervous ticks. Chapters alternate between one-offs and magnified microcosms existing in other chapters; the prose style also varies between easily-understood-conversation to surrealist-interrogation.

DFW gives the novel some intrigue by claiming within the work of fiction that he is not making any of it up, once again bringing up the problem of what it means for a work to be "fiction." I have yet to find a source for the progressive sales tax bit, but I found it hilarious and indicative of exactly the stupid things bureaucracies dream up sometimes. I also found the insights about the intense mental strain of tedious tasks highly accurate (speaking as someone who has worked in the fields of data entry and observation of potentially abusive parents).

Content-wise, if you're uncomfortable with injury-gore, a few sexual scenes, and/or some swearing, you will probably find some parts of this book, well, uncomfortable.

In short, if you loved Infinite Jest and wish there were just a little more, you should buy this book. If you haven't read any DFW, you'll probably still enjoy parts of the book, but would benefit from reading one of his other works first (Infinite Jest if you want to tackle that, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again for some essays).
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