Ben Richmond's Reviews > The Pale King

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Dec 19, 11

liked it
bookshelves: labor-but-of-love, mighty-bleak, fantastic-realism-in-that-it-contai
Read from November 20 to December 19, 2011

It's hard to evaluate this novel as a novel. It's less complete or coherent than Infinite Jest, but due to the circumstances under which it was brought to the public, I guess it's hard to expect that. What we're left with, as readers, is a collection of vignettes that are thematically linked, rather than linked by a narrative thread. The truly difficult part is measuring whether this is a deliberate choice by the author, in service of said themes (one of which, it is worth noting, is boredom), or if the book was still a long way off from being a finished work.
The best I can say for TPK is that there were parts that were as vibrant and memorable as any Wallace has written. The underlying irony of it all is that I am one of those "death of the author" type of readers, who isn't really interested in how a piece relates to the artist's life; yet the literal death of the author completely framed the way I read, thought about, and ultimately appreciated this book. So I don't know.

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