Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Book #25 of 2011: the Pale King by David Foster Wallace.
This was unfinished at the time of DFW's death and has been constructed from his notes and drafts and whatnot, so, I feel as though it would be wrong to critique it as a finished work. So, what do I say?
It felt much like Infinite Jest in that there were multiple threads jumping around throughout the text, but I did not feel as drawn into the world as I did with IJ. Or at least not for a while. There seemed to be fewer (clear) connections between threads and it was even harder to piece things together/make sense of things. I do blame the latter fact on myself, however, as I knew the book would require a lot of focus and I was not always able to give it the attention it demanded (it's very hard to think clearly on a train in front of someone playing Angry Birds with the sound on, across from someone yelling into a cell phone, and behind someone with a crying baby).
That said, by the end, I still had the same compulsion (likewise un-acted-upon) as I had with Infinite Jest to flip back to the front and start all over with a new awareness/understanding of what I was reading. But, were I to choose to re-read either this or Infinite Jest, I would hands-down choose IJ despite its massive-ness.
Some of the chapters were downright hard to get through--one narrator had a tic of adding "type of thing" after nearly every thought and the supposedly DFW narrated chapters were rambly as hell. But, one of the themes of the book is that there may be a bright light at the end of crushing boredom's dark tunnel. I just wish that after these purposely difficult sections, I'd been rewarded with the bright light of a truly completed DFW work. Alas, that was not to be.