Fans will get a chance to explore the incredible boredom that surrounds the Internal Revenue Service in David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel, “The Pale King,” released three years after his death.
More than 60 people heard excerpts from the book and attended a reception in the Harry Ransom Center on Friday. The center holds an archive of Wallace’s work and notes, which will be on display in “Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century” until July 31.
“I think he did have such a committed following. He has so many readers who were obviously so dismayed at his death and so happy that they have this opportunity to have something else from him,” said Danielle Sigler, curator for academic affairs and event coordinator.
Wallace died by suicide in 2008.
Editor Michael Pietsch pieced the book together from Wallace’s notes.
The novel “takes agonizing daily events like standing in lines, traffic jams and horrific bus rides — things we all hate — and turns them into moments of laughter and understanding,” Pietsch said in a September 2010 statement.
Time Magazine included Wallace’s bestselling 1996 book, “Infinite Jest,” on its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels list.
English senior Hunter Knox said having the collection available at the University was a way to learn more about how Wallace may have approached writing and to better understand his works.
“Having that available is a tool that can help young writers or people who just want to learn more about Wallace,” Knox said. “We’ll never really be able to understand and get inside his head, and I think that to think that we would be pretty foolish, but it gives us a better idea and helps us come to terms with his place in contemporary literature.”
The Austin Public Library Friends Foundation’s New Fiction Confab and BookPeople co-hosted the event.
“[The Pale King] is deeply experimental,” said local author Amelia Grey. “He was really famously obsessed with avoiding cliche at that line level and wanted to take any possible cliche and break it down, so your brain has to slow down when you’re reading it.”
Jenn Shaland, an English graduate student, is concentrating her studies on Wallace.
“It’s a tricky thing. He doesn’t get to edit it down to its final version,” she said.