Imagine for a moment that you are a book publisher. You, more than anyone else, are attuned to a disturbingly consistent decline in book sales, and you, of course, are doing your best to reverse this negative trend. Imagine your top author proposes a novel with a cast primarily comprised of IRS accountants. He is adamant that there will be no significant scandals or drama involved in the work, just accountants performing repetitive, rote tasks. The novel’s main theme is boredom. Excited?
Thankfully, the folks at Little, Brown are excited as David Foster Wallace’s posthumous and tragically unfinished novel, The Pale King, hits bookstores on April 15.
The novel is justifiably one of the year’s most anticipated, as it contains some of Wallace’s finest writing — which says a lot considering his brilliant oeuvre which includes Infinite Jest, and essays such as “Ticket to the Fair.”
Set in the mid-’80s mid west, The Pale King follows the lives of several IRS agents, most of whom are social misfits. Some of them deal with attacks of excessive perspiration, some are plagued with dermatological issues that verge on disfigurement, and all of them consistently struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity as they face hours upon hours of sensory deprivation at their nine-to five jobs.
And Wallace, with his patented mixture of humour and curiosity makes these characters completely fascinating. We are lucky enough to look on as the banal, under Wallace’s probing gaze, exposes itself as sublime.
Publisher: Little, Brown And Company
Page count: 560 Pages
Released: April 15, 2011