The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is essentially a commentary on boredom told from multiple points of view using different employees at and Internal Revenue Service examination center. The novel is unfinished because the author, David Foster Wallace, committed suicide before he could complete work on the novel.
Knowing that it was an "unfinished" work going in was good because it lowered my expectations. I overlooked some parts that seemed disjointed and continued to listen through long internal dialogue sections of minute detail. Parts of this novel are wonderfully insightful about the boredom inherent in an average life and that it is wonderful in a bizarre way. A job may be horribly dull, but that doesn't mean that the people who do it are dull. The quirky characters and their stories are very entertaining. The characters reminded me of many odd people I've met in my life who I enjoyed listening to because their perspective was so much different than my own. The perspective of these characters on what would otherwise be mundane descriptions of daily life were very entertaining.
Regardless of the wonderful writing and unique character viewpoint, the prose does get tiring. There is just too much internal dialogue and pontificating on life and the meaning of a person's place in society. I imagine that this is a flaw that would have worked itself out if the author had time to finish the novel. Wallace is very talented and it is a shame that he is no longer with us anymore. I have no doubt he would have found the perfect balance for these incredible characters so that the reader never tired of hearing them tell their stories.
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