September 18, 2010

The Pale King - April 15, 2011

"The Pale King" - an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide two years ago - will be published on April 15, 2011. (More about the book here.)

The Tax Day release date is appropriate because the novel is set in an IRS tax-return-processing center in Illinois. Michael Pietsch, who edited the novel, says it centers on "a crew of entry-level processors [in the mid-1980s] and their attempts to do their job in the face of soul-crushing tedium."

A year ago, Pietsch described the novel this way:
The thrust of it is an attempt to look at the dark matter of tedium and boredom and repetition and familiarity that life is made of, and through that to find a path to joy and art and everything that matters. Wallace has set himself the task of making a moving and joyful book out of the matter of life that most writers veer away from as hard as they can. And what he left of it is heartbreakingly full and beautiful and deep. He was looking at how one survives.
Karen Green, Wallace's widow, created the cover art for the US edition (above).

The King of Clubs may symbolize "foresight ... the ability to predict what is coming". Another website (cluttered with ads) says the card
represents a male who is older in age or spirit with brown hair and hazel eyes. ... Suit of Clubs Personality Traits: Inventive, creative, visionary, altruistic. ... Clubs are generally associated with agreements, business pursuits, governmental matters and events with dynamic impact in terms of our lives. Frequently, the Clubs will herald the beginning stages of a new course in life. They usually signify self-growth and accomplishment.
The UK cover has the title written on the height of a huge stack of papers, representing both the enormous amount of work the IRS workers have to do and the way DFW stacked the manuscript before his death.

It also notes the book is "an unfinished novel".

In other DFW news, his papers are now available for researchers at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

The archive includes:
Infinite Jest (novel, 1996)

15.4-7 Handwritten drafts, undated
16.1-6 'First two sections,' typescript drafts
and photocopy, undated
16.7 Typescript draft fragments, undated
17.1-3 Typescript draft fragment (continued)
17.4-8 Typescript draft, with corrections, undated
18.1-6 Typescript draft (continued)
18.7 Draft for copyedit, undated
19.1-6 Draft for copyedit (continued)
20.1-4 Draft for copyedit (continued)
20.5-6 Typescript, copyedited, May-June 1995, undated
21.1-5 Typescript, copyedited (continued)
22.1-3 Typescript, copyedited (continued)
22.4-6 Proof set, 5 September 1995
23.1-5 Proof set, 6-22 September 1995
23.6 Notepad with corrections list
Sigh. Why couldn't his papers be in Toronto or Buffalo? Or Detroit? Somewhere within driving distance...


laura k said...

The University of Texas at Austin is home to an incredible array of archives. I recently read why that is, in "This Book Is Overdue!"

We'll just have to swing by Austin on some future baseball road trip. We have a blog-friend there, and it's supposed to be a really nice town.

Zenslinger said...

The books themselves have been too much for me so far, never mind the apocrypha. But I dig your obsession.