The Pale King by David Foster Wallace - review by Keith Miller

Keith Miller

Tax and Taxing

The Pale King


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You can generally tell when publishers feel a trifle shifty about bringing out an incomplete work by a dead writer: they ramp up the scholarship, and present the book as a curatorial event rather than a literary one. One sees no real sign of that here; there’s an editor’s foreword at the beginning, and some of David Foster Wallace’s ‘Notes to Self’ are appended on the end, but what lies in between seems for the most part pretty polished, even if it’s polished in accordance with Wallace’s rather idiosyncratic specifications.

The book in its present form is surely not too different from what it would have been had Wallace lived to complete it (he took himself off antidepressants, in part because he felt he wasn’t able to focus fully on his writing, then hanged himself in the autumn

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