The Pale King

  • by David Foster Wallace
  • Narrated by Robert Petkoff
  • 19 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Downloadable audio edition of David Foster Wallace's final and most ambitious undertaking – an audacious and hilarious look into the abyss of ordinary life. The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Centre in Peoria, IL, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David 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 intriguing 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 ultimate value of work and family – 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 a writer who dared to take on the most daunting subjects the human spirit can imagine.


What the Critics Say

"We can imagine his fiction and essays as the scroll fragments of a distant future. He did not channel his talents to narrower patterns. He wanted to be equal to the vast, babbling, spin-out sweep of contemporary culture." (Don DeLillo)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


A work unlike any other. Rich figurative language and accounts of human thought and behavior. Petkoff makes it fresh and alive. Listener must succumb to Wallace's heavy world, but it ends up bringing you to a whole new realm of literature and intimacy. Cannot recommend it enough.
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- Maria Faurholm

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-13-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd