Greg’s review of The Pale King > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Drew (new)

Drew yeahhh!

message 2: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez The people demand a review!

message 3: by Greg (new)

Greg I just finished it twenty four minutes ago. I have started the review though.

message 4: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I know this is a touchy question, and I think I know the answer, but: does this mean you've read it all now? Are ya doin' alright?

message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg Read it all as in all the DFW work? No. I still have half of Oblivion, Everything and More and whatever the name of his Master's Thesis is. And then there is all of the stuff in Austin that when I become independently wealthy I'll just take a year or so out of my life and systematically go through.

I'm going ok though, I think writing the review might be a little depressing though.

message 6: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Take your time. Apparently that shit's all on lock-down at the moment, anyway.

message 7: by Greg (new)

Greg It will be quite a while anyway. I'm poor as shit and I don't see that changing anytime soon (ever).

message 8: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez That said, you can totally crash on my couch in this you get rich and read all the Wallace scenario. Oh, people don't stay on couches.

message 9: by Greg (new)

Greg Elizabeth wrote: "I think you need to seduce an heiress."

Hahahahahaha, I stand a better chance at winning the lottery with the two bucks I throw into the store pool every week.

message 10: by Greg (new)

Greg It's looking like there may not be a review for this.

message 11: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Dammit.

message 12: by Greg (new)

Greg I guess I lied, it's not the review I envisioned, but it's done.

message 13: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell I liked this review quite a bit.

(Argh I want those extra chapters....sigh.)

message 14: by Greg (new)

Greg If you mean the paperback chapters, most of them are quite short, only one of them is on the longish side, and they can be read probably in a bookstore with no problem and they are conveniently placed all together in the back of the book right before the discussion group questions.

message 15: by M. (new)

M. Sarki I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you something you may or may not already know, or you may not know and when you do know it you might disagree, but nonetheless I feel it must be said. I never read The Pale King yet, but I have read all the other ones except for the ones you also have not read. I also admit to not finishing the so-called masterpiece, Infinite Jest. But what I want to tell you, if you do not already know this, that is, if you like the essays better than the fiction of DFW, then there is somebody infinitely better than the Zadie Smiths, the Jonathan Lethems, and others you have mentioned in your search for somebody to fill this void that DFW left for us. I found him. I am not sure if he will continue on as strongly as DFW did, I do not know how great his staying power is going to hold up, but I do know this: he sure can write and give me that stuff I am missing cuz DFW is dead. His name is Lee Klein. You can find him right here on goodreads. I think you would like him very much. I have written some reviews of his work and I think my reviews are pretty good too. But I couldn't be more pleased to have discovered Lee Klein and I am want to cheer him on vigorously and with greater zeal than most. Again, I did like your thoughtful review, as always.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't like David Foster Wallace and I'm not crazy about this review but I think you and I share a significant degree of mental states. There are several things I want address here:

1)Your Creflo Dollar/Blue Like Jazz related critiques of evangelical Christianity and how one of the reasons I dislike DFW is because he sounds like every college group minister I've ever know and I'm left with a sneaking suspicion that his societal critiques are very much informed by a conservate christian midwestern environment which I am intimately familiar with. I used to be a fervent evangelical but now am an atheist.

2)Perhaps you or someone else here can tell me why he once listed "The Screwtape Letters" as the greatest book of all time. If it was a joke what kind of joke was he trying to make exactly?

3)Your closing thoughts are historically fundamental philosophical questions which I find very interesting and which I don't feel our contemporary literary culture does a very good job of dealing with in spite of how much it pats itself on its back for doing so whenever a book comes out with a writer supposedly getting inside the heads of characters from diverse backgrounds and multiple points of view. Still, though, literature does seem one of the best cures for solipsism. Just not today's more heavily touted literature. Have you read any philosophical works which you found useful in dealing with the points you made in closing?

message 17: by Greg (new)

Greg M, I'll give him a look. He sounds like he could be interesting.

Justin, I don't think his listing of Screwtape Letters was a joke. I've seen a few lists of books that he loves / recommends etc., and they are usually fairly surprising with a lot of 'low-brow' stuff and unexpected books. I don't know for sure but I have a feeling that he was at least a casual church-goer.

I had taken a class on Intersubjectivity that dealt with some of these types of questions, the book from that class that I got the most out of at the time was Totality and Infinity by Levinas, it's more existential than dealing with the 'hard-problem' of consciousness and other peoples' minds. From the analytical side of philosophy Nagel and Sellers both have some interesting things dealing with this topic and so does Daniel Dennett. It's been so long since I really read any philosophy that deals with this topic in quite a while though.

message 18: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Greg wrote: "they can be read probably in a bookstore with no problem and they are conveniently placed all together in the back of the book right before the discussion group questions."

Yeah, but....I want to have them. sigh.

message 19: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell I think that was not exactly a pisstake but one of those weird moments where he was either trying to humble himself before popular culture or joke around with it, take your pick. Slate had a pretty good article about it

I dunno how conservative he was, but he does mention churchgoing in his 9/11 essay and a few others. He didn't seem that political to me, but his little book on the McCain campaign did upset some liberals. I didn't think McCain, or the political system in general, came out of it that well, but it's more a book about the spin cycle hype machine than actual politics.

message 20: by Greg (new)

Greg I know that he used some of those 'non-serious' books, like Red Dragon in at least one of the classes he taught.

message 21: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Yeah, it's on the syllabus. Along with Mary Higgins Clark and Jackie Collins.

message 22: by Tuck (new)

Tuck the un-winner of the pulizter

lee klein too, not bad at all

message 23: by Tuck (new)

Tuck publishers weekly says the un-winner of pulitzer is costing somebody LOTS of money

message 24: by Jen (new)

Jen Greg, some of what you wrote on this review reminded me of things I thought about while reading IJ. Also, Hell, Greg, you aren't boring, you're liked, and I look forward to reading about the mundane details of your life, please share more.

Justin, explain this societal critique thing to me, because none of my college ministers remind me of DFW in any way, although I wish they had. Then again, none of them were mid-western, so perhaps that is how I'm missing the link.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

It was something from "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men". The Krasinski movie version. The ex-boyfriend feels like the unconditional love of a hippie girl could save him.

He doesn't say anything about God, but the values are there. Grace. Unconditional Love. Anti-Solipsism. While doing drugs. Very college minister type stuff. And The Screwtape Letters? C'mon. That's sitting next the fern on the bookshelf behind every college minister's desk.

message 26: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez That's what you're gauging your entire opinion of this author on? That shitty movie?

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

More from reading Infinite Jest and his essays. The story from the movie was the most striking example in regard to Jen's question.

message 28: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yeah, but...goodreads claims you have 'read' that book. That story was in it. Did you or did you not read the story? Different animals, movie adaptations of things and original material. Why even reference the movie if you read the actual story? Just talk about the story, maybe? Just curious.

message 29: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 27, 2012 08:24PM) (new)

I just skimmed it. I assumed it was in the book since it was such an important part of the movie. Was I wrong?

message 30: by Jen (new)

Jen That's the difference! Midwestern college ministers have bookshelves in their offices!

Seriously, aside from the drugs, how is wanting those things wrong for anyone else...grace? unconditional love? someone else to connect with, be they a hippie or a female? And how is talking about the wanting of those things reducible to something unlikable for you, whether in DFW or in college ministers?

I'm a little confused here. If you see where I have gone wrong, please let me know.

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

In a review of Updike, Wallace says the Baby Boomer generation is the most self-centered generation since Louix XIV. I'm not entirely sure what that means but that sounds like something a minister would say. "Our society is the most selfish one evah!"

message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 27, 2012 08:37PM) (new)

Jen wrote: "That's the difference! Midwestern college ministers have bookshelves in their offices!

Seriously, aside from the drugs, how is wanting those things wrong for anyone else...grace? unconditional l..."

I feel like Wallace oversimplifies things. Like he isn't able to go to the heart of the matter by following the conclusions wherever they lead. He just lists off a bunch of data about everything he sees, more like a journalist than a poet giving us insights into human existence (Franzen's the same). There's a scene at the beginning of IJ where a suicide patient is talking about her repeated attempts to kill herself while a doctor listens. I felt like he described in the flattest, emptiest way while trying to breathe some melodramatic life into it. There was no heart. Just data. Some might say that's the whole point. Data has interrupted our traditional human ways. But I can figure that out for myself just by looking around me. I don't need an author to give me one more superficial description of the depressing stuff I see every day. I need an author who goes beyond that. And if he ever does go beyond that, the answers he offers seem as trite as those the evangelical church never gets tired of peddling.

message 33: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez So you didn't read the book. K, just checking.

message 34: by Greg (new)

Greg I hate to admit it but there probably is something of the college minister to him. Although my image of what a college minister or youth minister or whatever is based entirely on my imagination. I've never had any real interactions with these types of people in my life. One of the central themes in his writings is the need to be aware and he is somewhat evangelical about pushing this message at times (for example This is Water).

Those values might be pushed by a minister but they aren't values that religion has any monopoly over. I'm imagining (projecting my own self probably, but I do think that DFW and I share certain traits in the way we interact with the world, but I could be entirely off base) that to escape traps of over-thinking, living inside your own head, solipsism, etc., and all the destructive havoc that causes there are different paths, you can medicate, fuck yourself up on drugs, live in a haze, or you can aim for some kind of outside help, grace or unconditional love or whatever that comes from being aware of something other than just yourself and your thoughts. I don't mean to put this into an either/or dichotomy, or say these are the only two choices out there, but at least in Infinite Jest these are the two paths that most of the characters take.

DFW's reading favorite books I always took to be a little tongue in cheek. I think he was just trying to say that there are these other books out there that I really like and that are worth reading that I think you should pay attention to also. Most people would expect him to say Pynchon, Gaddis, Barth or Barthelme (who he does cite somewhere as having written one of his favorite short stories), but when he puts a Tom Clancy novel on a list of all-time favorite books I have a feeling that it's all part of his 'be-more-aware' of the world message. Although after reading Lipsky book and the way DFW was transfixed by action movies maybe he genuinely does consider someone like Clancy to be one of the greats.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Was that not in the book, Paquita?

message 36: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Justin wrote: "Blublabla"

Man. I know opinions are like assholes, but clinical depression is so accurately described there, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'm just a flat, empty caricature of a person, though! Must be! No heart.

message 37: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Justin wrote: "Was that not in the book, Paquita?"

Oh, it's definitely in the book, though it does not present itself even remotely as you seem to interpret it. You should, ya know, read it.

message 38: by Jen (new)

Jen If he was right, would his statement sound less 'preachy' to you?

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm such a poseur, Paquita. Help me.

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Jen wrote: "If he was right, would his statement sound less 'preachy' to you?"

He might very well be right, but there's nothing convincing or charming about it. Like Rain Wilson putting up a statement of fact sign that says "It is your birthday," in front of Jon Krasinski. Man I LOVE that guy!

message 41: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Justin wrote: "I'm such a poseur, Paquita. Help me."

Snarktastic, man. Two thumbs up. I only pointed out what you admitted, which is that you didn't read the book. Honestly, though, your opinion on the matter is no concern of mine. I've just been stewing on your initial, totally inconsiderate comment to Greg about how you 'didn't care for his review' for a week or two now. I stick up for my homies! You were bein' rude, dude!

message 42: by karen (new)

karen justin's been busy making friends on the internet this evening.

message 43: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez karen wrote: "justin's been busy making friends on the internet this evening."

Hi, karen!

message 44: by karen (new)

karen hi!!! i go away for fifteen hours and the internet is full of opinions! who knew?

message 45: by Jen (new)

Jen I've lost the plot of this now. So instead I am going to write something else, likely not related to what I wrote before:

I think what we dislike and why says just as much about us as what we like. And that those dislikes and likes usually decide who we converse with, hang out with, etc. We are all running around, with these definite ideas about our uniqueness and sameness, and we find huddles of others to whisper about all this with until we eventually go back to being alone again.

And that is my nonsensical thought for 11:55 pm tonight. I'm blaming pumpernickel pretzels.

message 46: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez It is? Full of opinions? OMFG NO WAY.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I should have stuck to taint jokes shouldn't I Karen?

message 48: by Greg (new)

Greg I'm fine with someone saying they don't like this review. I have some uncomfortable feelings about it myself (even more so since I accidently just floated it when I fixed a couple of typos I noticed (but left all the other awful grammatical problems in tact)).

message 49: by karen (new)

karen many of them are provocative and some of them are incorrect. the internet: full of stuff


message 50: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Jen. Yeah, pretty much.

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