Russ’s May Recommendation

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

The Pale King is an odd book, full of pieces that seem taken from different sources: a transcript from a one-sided fictional interview, excerpts from a fake memoir by a fictionalized version of the author, and childhood anecdotes from the characters’ pasts among other things.  It definitely takes awhile to wrap your head around, but ultimately the many, many diverse parts of The Pale King add up to give a surprisingly three-dimensional, fascinating whole picture of a group of low-level employees who worked in the Peoria, IL office of the IRS’s examinations department during the mid-1980s.  An odd choice for subject matter, but the author goes into incredibly specific detail about things that were happening at the time, background information on nearly every place and thing involved and great detail on the characters’ specific quirks and paranoias.  Probably most interesting are the author’s musings about the nature of boredom and how incredibly dark and powerful it really can be when at the height of its powers.  The manuscript for this book was found in the personal belongings of the late David Foster Wallace and was supposedly unfinished, though given the structure, it’s hard to tell what else could even have been added.  A challenging-but-worthwhile read.”

Read about it or request it from the online catalog.


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