Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Review of "The Pale King"

I just finished listening to all 16 excruciatingly incoherent discs of David Foster Wallace's unfinished "masterpiece," The Pale King. Recommended as a Pulitzer Award finalist on NPR. Amazingly, even though you may listen to the admittedly pleasant narrators unabridged words for a *mere* 18 hours on audio CD, I was still, on several occasions, tempted to call it quits and throw my hands in the air. But I listened. Hour after hour. To 50 chapters of unrelated stories; 50 virtually unrelated lives; 50 unrelated and incoherent ramblings of what the author and editors call the theme of "Challenging the Notion of Boredom." I listened to every word, I didn't skip a minute. And the end of the book - an odd drug-induced recollection from a work picnic - is just as unimportant and unconnected to any part of the novel as the front of the book - a man's disjointed thoughts about landing in an airplane. And in between we are introduced to utterly forgetful and unimportant characters.

The book cover and synopsis say it all in flagrantly unambiguous language: 'This is a book about boredom.' As you read it, you become bored. You ask yourself, "why am I reading such a boring book"? And unless you are one of the people who responds, "Oh! How brilliant! I am reading an utterly exhaustingly boring book about boredom. I feel like I'm a party to an utterly drove and bourgeoise inside joke! Huzzah!" then you will be one of the people who says, "This is by far the most pointless book I've read in my life. I award myself no points for gaining knowledge, or for bemusingly passing the time. And may God have mercy on my soul."

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