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The Pale King – A Review

April 25, 2012

 
“Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony, ephemeracy, inconsequence, abstraction, disorder, boredom, angst, ennui – these are the true hero’s enemies, and make no mistake, they are fearsome indeed.  For they are real.”  So we are warned, by David Foster Wallace.  His novel, The Pale King, is a clerical epic, set in the catacombs of the Internal Revenue Service, where men and women fight against the “soul murdering” nature of their dreary, repetitive jobs, and the “true heroes” embrace boredom, as a path to bliss.  Wallace believes in enlightenment through wilful attention to complexity.  The enemy here is not tedium but the idea that the majority of life is tedious.  Boredom is the coward’s way out.  A hero welcomes monotony.

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