- by Tim Adams
- The theme of The Pale King is boredom and the ways in which a group of young Americans mitigate its effects to get through their working life (Wallace was never a writer to duck a challenge). Most of it is set in the offices of the Internal Revenue Service at Peoria in Illinois. "Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain," Wallace wrote at one point, "because something that's dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from."
Green shakes her head: "No – his grandfather, his aunt – but no. He couldn't bear the idea of the dogs dying. And he used to say to me all the time, at night: 'Don't die.'" She pauses for a long time. "That's a hard thing to think about," she says. "It is hard to remember tender things tenderly."
Wallace once said, in a quote often employed in the obituaries, that he would attempt to "communicate what it felt to be human or he would die trying".
Article from The Guardian