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New Yorker on David Foster Wallace and his unpublished novel

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Small Town Guy, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Just finished The New Yorker's massive - 12,000 words - feature on David Foster Wallace, which focuses on his struggle with depression but also includes extensive information on his unfinished novel, "The Pale King." You'll need a long block of time set aside to read the whole feature, but it's well worth it.


    Rolling Stone wrote about his depression in a superb story several months ago, and this story overlaps with that a bit, but also has some info I don't remember reading in that story. The last year of his life sounds like it was torturous, after he went off the anti-depressant he'd been on for 20 years. He thought the drug was interfering with his ability to finish his novel, which he'd started in 2000, although his physical reaction to Nardil was the main factor.

    His novel was going to be about IRS agents. The story talks about how DFW wrote to friends about wanting to break out of the mold he'd created for himself, but the new novel still had sections such as a character named David Wallace taking a tour of the IRS offices. The theme of the book was, Wallace wrote, "Bliss-a second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious - lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find...and, in waves, a boredom like you've never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out and it's like stepping from black and white into color."

    It's unclear how readable the unfinished novel will be, which will be published next year. Before he killed himself, he arranged 200 pages and other notes, computer disks, drafts and sketches so that his wife could find them.

    It's a fascinating article. And, ultimately, depressing. There's also an excerpt from the Pale King in the magazine.
  2. I have to say that I was never a fan. His stuff was far too dense -- in the good sense -- for me. This new novel, as described, didn't seem to make a lick of sense. The story of his battle with depression is toweringly sad.
  3. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    I loved his two books of essays. What a talented writer. What a shame they had to include that stupid do-rag in their illustration. Isn't there an experation date on silly PR stunts?
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