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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More from David Foster Wallace's The Pale King

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 1:59 PM

David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel The Pale King is hitting paperback soon, bringing with it "four previously unpublished scenes." (That's a publishing gimmick that's really fucking annoying for us David Foster Wallace completists, even if it's not quite as annoying as being asked to pay 15 bucks for this, which is 137 pages set in like 75-point type.) BUT ANYWAY: The Millions has one of those four scenes, which begins:

Charles Lehrl grew up not in Peoria but in nearby Decatur, home of Archer Dentists Midland and Lehrl said a city of such relentless uninteresting squalor and poverty that Peorians point with genuine pride at their city’s failure to be as bad as Decatur, whose air stank either of hog processing or burnt corn depending on the wind, whose patrician class distinguished itself by chewing gum with their front teeth. Lehrl’s narrative was that he had grown up in a mobile home the color of rotten fruit across a drainage culvert from Self-Storage Parkway, an interstate spur once built for an A. E. Staley subsidiary that had closed down when the bottom had fallen out of the pork belly market and now home to mosquitoes, conferva, shattercane, and an abundance of volunteer weeds gone hypertrophic in the outwash of nitrogen fertilizers that summertime pets disappeared in. What had kept his father from being an actual alcoholic was that being an actual alcoholic would have taken too much effort. Mr. and Mrs. Lehrl had not just allowed but encouraged the children to play in the road.

The full thing's here.


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