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The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.
The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.
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David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.Review:
Achingly funny, nothing short of sublime Publishers Weekly Rich and substantial and alive ... Wallace's finest work as a novelist Time The Pale King contains what's sure to be some of the finest fiction of the year ... he was the closest thing we had to a recording angel GQ Brilliant observation, and comic aside, and satirical nuance and existential theorising tumble over each other for the reader's attention ... as alive and affecting as anything Wallace wrote Observer Sometimes as a critic the most important part of your job is to say: here, this is it, we've found it, someone's doing it. That someone was Wallace. He was the real thing Evening Standard Although unfinished, this work refines Wallace's tradition as an originator of meticulously constructed sentences that simultaneously induce laughter, contemplation, empathy and sorrow, but which ultimately leave the reader somehow changed ... [Wallace] was not only the greatest writer of his generation, but one of the most important thinkers of the age Courier Mail Everyone who cares about literature should buy it The Age The Pale King gave me a pleasure and excitement that I can describe only as biological. That is to say, the book produced in me that very rare, warm, head-to-toe tingling that comes with admission to a paradise of language and intelligence -- Joseph O' Neill The Times Remarkable -- Jonathan Derbyshire New Statesman Fragmented, challenging, humorous and typically digressive, it is perhaps the most intriguing work of fiction ever written about boredom Financial Times
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