Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Pale King Paperback – April 10, 2012
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Deeply sad, deeply philosophical...By turns breathtakingly brilliant and stupefying dull--funny, maddening and elegiac...in almost everything Wallace wrote, including THE PALE KING, he aimed to use words to lasso and somehow subdue the staggering, multifarious, cacophonous predicament that is modern American life."―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Feverishly encompassing, sharply comedic, and haunting...this is not a novel of defeat but, rather, of oddly heroic persistence....electrifying in its portrayal of individuals seeking unlikely refuge in a vast, absurd bureaucracy. In the spirit of Borges, Gaddis, and Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Wallace conducts a commanding and ingenious inquiry into monumental boredom, sorrow, the deception of appearances, and the redeeming if elusive truth that any endeavor, however tedious, however impossible, can become a conduit to enlightenment.'"―Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"Nothing short of sublime--the first two chapters are a real put-the-reader-on-notice charging bull blitz, and the David Foster Wallace sections...are tiny masterpieces....achingly funny...pants-pissingly hilarious."―Publishers Weekly
"One of the saddest and most lovely books I've ever read...Let's state this clearly: You should read THE PALE KING....You'll be [kept up at night] because D.F.W. writes sentences and sometimes whole pages that make you feel like you can't breathe."―Benjamin Alsup, Esquire
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
I'm halfway through The Pale King as I write this, so keep that context in mind as you read (or not) what follows.
The three-star rating seems most appropriate to me: As Michael Pietsch's Introduction makes clear, what we have here is NOT Wallace's final intention for The Pale King, but Pietsch's version of that intention. That doesn't mean, though, that we shouldn't have this. While it may be unfinished in and of itself, I think that it clearly reflects Wallace's larger concerns in the latter years of his life--both life-affirming ones and, yes, darker ones as well.
(Something else you might want to keep in mind, by the way, is that I think it's a mistake to read The Pale King only or primarily as an indirect suicide note.)
The review proper is here: The version of The Pale King that we have takes us into a place most of us loathe, into the minds of the people who work there (whom most of us would probably regard as at least unpleasant), recreates (deliberately, through its prose style) the tedium of that place, and reveals its workers as, sure, flawed human beings (but who among us is not?) yet strangely drawn to (and more or less good at) the work that loathsome place requires of them. He locates their humanity, in other words. We may not want to hang out with some (most?) of them, but we end up acknowledging and maybe even respecting them as we say, yes, I'm glad it's not me, but someone has to do this work. But then again, that is the notion of Service in a nutshell. I'd argue that that's not just thought-provoking but ultimately life-affirming.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My first reading of a book by Wallace, I mostly enjoyed this novel. It seems to alternate between tediousness and brilliance, each sometimes reducing or canceling the other out. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Mort Payne
I really, really, really liked this book about boredom and nothingness. A lot easier to follow along than IJ.Published 2 months ago by Mike
This incredibly dense novel (just like the IRS tax code it imitates) is recursive and dark. I found it a fascinating view into the kind of person who would work at IRS and I... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mo Mig
Good book by a good writer. A little challenging to read and boring at times, but Foster Wallace loved to write about boredom, so it is expected.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This might not be the best place to start if you've never read him before....the book feels unfinished (which, of course, it is) and uneven. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Macaw Lady
Hard to follow and unenjoyable. I'm an avid reader of literary fiction and this did not appeal to me at all. Read morePublished 5 months ago by ashley
Felt like the book was just getting started as I came to the last page. There were glimpses of the DFW insight into … the human condition? Read morePublished 6 months ago by HHH