Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England January 11, 2014 - 8:38pm

I love David Foster Wallace, but is "The Pale King" worth reading? I mean, it's unfinished- I've heard opinions either way on it. And please don't tell me to go read "Consider the Lobster" or any other of his stuff, because I'm planning on reading his entire bibliography.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne January 12, 2014 - 11:07am

Certainly worth reading. I've not finished it yet (it's sort of a ... project), but I've really enjoyed everything I've read so far. There's a lot of his usual wit, some humor, and it's an interesting premise. And the fact that it's unfinished matters less with this one than it might with others, as the scope is sort of wide and billowing. If you like DFW, there's no reason to be afraid of it just because it wasn't finished. While individual tastes will vary, it's definitely worthwhile, IMO.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics January 12, 2014 - 2:43pm

If you could compare his style or voice with anyone else, who would it be and why?

Fugue's picture
Fugue from City of Wind is reading Invitation to a Beheading by Nabokov. January 13, 2014 - 8:30am

I would say, yes, definitely read it. Just read Chapter 1 and tell me it's not some of the most beautiful prose you've ever read. Some chapters will break your heart, some will make you laugh, and some will take every ounce of mental strength to get through. I have to say that for a book about boredom, it sure entertained the hell out of me. To me, it's a pretty complete book.

As far as comparisons go-- I know he was heavily influenced by the post-modernists of the late 50's and 60's-- Donald Barthelme, John Barth, Pynchon. I can speak for Pynchon, because I've read a bit, and while they both go on long-winded tangents, the "voice" isn't that similar. The other two I haven't read.

Another thing that interested me about him was a list I read somewhere online that listed his top ten favorite novels. The Stand was on there, as well as Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Also, a Tom Clancy novel, can't remember which one. Either way, not anything in the post-modern style. He seemed to like his page turners.

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day January 13, 2014 - 9:54am

Sadly and reluctantly I would say it is not worth your time.  If DFW had been able to complete it from soup to nuts, then there is no question. But since that isn't the case, I would set your sights on a different opus.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 13, 2014 - 9:53pm

Another thing that interested me about him was a list I read somewhere online that listed his top ten favorite novels. The Stand was on there, as well as Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Also, a Tom Clancy novel, can't remember which one. Either way, not anything in the post-modern style. He seemed to like his page turners.

He was regularly talking about his love for mainstream/commercial stuff. Part of me thinks it was (in those days) genuinely brave for an "intellectual" to admit such things; part of me thinks it was a ploy and a pose which he purposefully played up, misrepresenting his true opinions. (Maybe one turned into the other when he saw it was working? e.g. "Did I say I like shit TV? I meant to say I freaking LOVE shit TV!")

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England January 17, 2014 - 5:08pm

Well, thanks a lot for everyone's input!