David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” Excerpt Published


In March of 2009, Little, Brown and Company announced plans to publish an unfinished novel titled The Pale King, which David Foster Wallace worked on sporadically for at least a decade before his death. The novel is based on main character Lane Dean careening into transcendence simply by living a life of utter boredom. In a new excerpt just published by The New Yorker, we catch a glimpse into the troubled childhood of Pale King’s floundering leading man. As a reader, the selection is both comforting and frustrating to devour, much like Lane’s encounters with the voices in his head.

(…The experience of the voices was analogous to the feeling of turning a pillow over to the cool side.) Sometimes the experience of the voices was ecstatic, sometimes so much so that it was almost too intense for me—as when you first bite into an apple or a confection that tastes so delicious and causes such a flood of oral juices that there is a moment of intense pain in your mouth and glands.

Basically, it’s so good it hurts. More on DFW, the bookworm’s Cobain, after the jump.

Wallace, one of the most buzzed about novelists of the past century, broke literary-loving hearts around the world when he committed suicide at the age of 46 in September of 2008. He was a master wordsmith with a knack for intricate, detailed realism and raw emotion laced with biting satire. His mammoth masterpiece, Infinite Jest, which weaved a story that integrated everything from the future of cultural over-stimulation, to tennis (Wallace was a devout player), to the bitter consequences of drug addiction, was named one of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923 by Time magazine, and for good reason. The depression-addled writer struggled with a hyper prolific, nit-picky psyche that gave fruit to some of the most skillfully written short-stories and novels of modern times.

Click here to taste the delicious snippet. Then join us in anticipating the 2010 mass-pillow-flip when the full (unfinished) manuscript is slated for publication.