Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace

Inicialmente previsto para 2010, já está à venda, desde abril, The Pale King, o livro póstumo de David Foster Wallace, editado por Michael Pietsch, da Little Brown, a partir de 250 páginas datilografadas que Wallace deixou em cima da mesa de seu escritório antes de se suicidar e de pilhas e pilhas de cadernetas escritas à mão e vários disquetes - a versão final tem quase 600 páginas. Pietsch diz que mergulhou (achei isso bonito) "into folders and spiral-bound notebooks, including one with a Rugrats character on the cover and another called 'Cuddly Cuties,' with a photograph of kittens. Inside were pages and pages of notes and drafts in Wallace's tiny, spidery handwriting. A ledger contained some pasted-in notebook pages, several of them decorated with small smiley-face stickers, little signs of encouragement that the author had apparently awarded himself, impersonating a grammar-school teacher" (The New York Times).  

The Pale King tem como cenário principal uma agência tributária do meio oeste dos Estados Unidos e retrata uma América monótona e sem sentido, escrava do consumismo míope; uns cidadãos à beira de morrer de tédio e incapazes de se comunicar. Mesmo sendo sobre o tédio, alguns críticos acharam o romance engraçado ao extremo ("pants-pissingly hilarious"). E Michiko Kakutani (a "rainha dos críticos", do NYT) não vê contradição em que o livro seja, ao mesmo tempo, profundamente triste: "just as this lumpy but often stirring new novel emerges as a kind of bookend to Infinite Jest, so it demonstrates that being amused to death and bored to death are, in Wallace’s view, flip sides of the same coin". No próprio romance, Wallace escreve: "Dullness is associated with psychic pain 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".

Mais um trecho, sobre "o inferno": "He felt in a position to say he knew now that hell had nothing to do with fires or frozen troops. Lock a fellow in a windowless room to perform rote tasks just tricky enough to make him have to think, but still rote, tasks involving numbers that connected to nothing he’d ever see or care about, a stack of tasks that never went down, and nail a clock to the wall where he can see it, and just leave the man there to his mind’s own devices". E mais um, descritivo: "the flannel plains [and] the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight, [an] arrow of starlings fired from the windbreak’s thatch, [a] sunflower, four more, one bowed, and horses in the distance standing rigid and still as toys. All nodding". 

Para Zadie Smith, Wallace foi o escritor mais talentoso de sua geração (da geração dela), um gênio. Para Jonathan Franzen, foi o amigo íntimo, o melhor parceiro, o autor da obra ao lado da qual ele avaliava a sua própria. (Franzen só conseguiu terminar Freedom quando Wallace se matou; a raiva o tirou do bloqueio em que esteve por cinco anos. Uma das personagens mais fascinantes de Freedom, Richard Katz, está inspirada no amigo.) Quem nunca leu Foster Wallace, pode se maravilhar com seus contos (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men; Breves entrevistas com homens hediondos, Cia. das Letras; meus preferidos são "Forever Overhead" e "The Depressed Person") ou seus "ensaios", que se leem como ficções (Consider the Lobster; Hablemos de langostas, em espanhol, Mondadori). Eu nunca me atrevi com o romance Infinite Jest (1.000 páginas; acho que já escrevi aqui que minha amiga Kris, norte-americana e boa leitora, não conseguiu terminá-lo, e portanto eu nem tentei), mas um exemplar de The Pale King já deve estar voando para Barcelona. Só vou poder lê-lo e comentar no Natal, então, deixo neste post os montes de elogios que encontrei na Amazon, em nota de rodapé, letra pequeninha e abundância, bem à la Wallace*.

*"One hell of a document and a valiant tribute to the late Wallace...Stretches of this are nothing short of sublime--the first two chapters are a real put-the-reader-on-notice charging bull blitz, and the David Foster Wallace sections...are tiny masterpieces of that whole self-aware po-mo thing of his that's so heavily imitated...often achingly funny...pants-pissingly hilarious...Yet, even in its incomplete state...the book is unmistakably a David Foster Wallace affair. You get the sense early on that he's trying to cram the whole world between two covers. As it turns out, that would actually be easier to than what he was up to here, because then you could gloss over the flyover country that this novel fully inhabits, finding, among the wigglers, the essence of our fundamental human struggles." (Publishers Weekly) "The final, beautiful act of an unwilling of the saddest, most lovely books I've ever read...Let's state this clearly: You should read THE PALE KING...You'll be [kept up at night] because D.F.W. writes sentences and sometimes whole pages that make you feel like you can't breathe...because again and again he invites you to consider some very heavy things...Through some function of his genius, he causes us to ask these questions of ourselves." (Benjamin Alsup, Esquire) "Deeply sad, deeply philosophical...breathtakingly brilliant...funny, maddening and elegiac...[David Foster Wallace's] most emotionally immediate work...It was in trying to capture the hectic, chaotic reality--and the nuanced, conflicted, ever-mutating thoughts of his characters--that Wallace's synesthetic prose waxed so prolix, his sentences unspooling into tangled skeins of words, replete with qualifying phrases and garrulous footnotes...because in almost everything Wallace wrote, including THE PALE KING, he aimed to use words to lasso and somehow subdue the staggering, multifarious, cacophonous predicament that is modern American life." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) "The overture to Wallace's unfinished last novel is a rhapsodic evocation of the subtle vibrancy of the midwestern landscape, a flat, wind-scoured place of potentially numbing sameness that is, instead, rife with complex drama....feverishly encompassing, sharply comedic, and haunting...this is not a novel of defeat but, rather, of oddly heroic persistence.... electrifying in its portrayal of individuals seeking unlikely refuge in a vast, absurd bureaucracy. In the spirit of Borges, Gaddis, and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), Wallace conducts a commanding and ingenious inquiry into monumental boredom, sorrow, the deception of appearances, and the redeeming if elusive truth that any endeavor, however tedious, however impossible, can become a conduit to enlightenment, or at least a way station in a world where 'everything is on fire, slow fire.'" (Donna Seaman, Booklist) "THE PALE KING represents Wallace's finest work as a novelist...Wallace made a career out of rushing in where other writers feared to tread or wouldn't bother treading. He had an outsize, hypertrophied talent...THE PALE KING is an attempt to stare directly into the blind spot and face what's there...His ability to render the fine finials and fractals and flourishes of a mind acting upon itself, from moment to moment, using only the blunt, numb instruments of language, has few if any equals in American literature..this we see him do at full extension." (Lev Grossman, TIME) "To read THE PALE KING is in part to feel how much Wallace had changed as a writer, compressed and deepened himself...It's easy to make the book sound heavy, but it's often very funny, and not politely funny, either...Contains what's sure to be some of the finest fiction of the year." (John Jeremiah Sullivan, GQ) "A thrilling read, replete with the author's humor, which is oftentimes bawdy and always bitingly smart...The notion that this book is 'unfinished' should not be given too much weight. The Pale King is, in many ways, quite complete: its core characters are fully drawn, each with a defining tic, trait, or backstory...Moreover, the book is far from incomplete in its handling of a host of themes, most of them the same major issues, applicable to all of us, with which Wallace also grappled in Infinite Jest: unconquerable boredom, the quest for satisfaction in work, the challenge of really knowing other people and the weight of sadness...The experience to be had from reading The Pale King feels far more weighty and affecting than a nicely wrapped story. Its reach is broad, and its characters stay with you." (Daniel Roberts, National Public Radio) "The four-word takeaway: You should read it!" (New York Magazine) "An astonishment, unfinished not in the way of splintery furniture but in the way of Kafka's Castle or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine...What's remarkable about The Pale King is its congruity with Wallace's earlier ambitions... The Pale King treats its central subject--boredom itself--not as a texture (as in Fernando Pessoa), or a symptom (as in Thomas Mann), or an attitude (as in Bret Easton Ellis), but as the leading edge of truths we're desperate to avoid. It is the mirror beneath entertainment's smiley mask, and The Pale King aims to do for it what Moby-Dick did for the whale...Watching [Foster Wallace] loosed one last time upon the fields of language, we're apt to feel the way he felt at the end of his celebrated essay on Federer at Wimbledon: called to attention, called out of ourselves." (Garth Risk Hallberg, New York Magazine) "Wallace's gift for language, especially argot of all sorts, his magical handling of masses of detail...[these] talents are on display again in The Pale King." (Jeffrey Burke, Bloomberg) "An incomplete, complex, confounding, brilliant novel...Reading THE PALE KING is strangely also comes with a note of grace." (Sam Anderson, New York Times Magazine) "The most anticipated posthumous American novel of the last century...[Wallace was] America's most-gifted writer...American literature will rarely, if ever, give us another mind like Wallace's...ferociously written...richly imagined...a deep panoply of lives and the post-modern awareness of how this all was constructed, both the work and the vortex of current life." (John Freeman, Boston Globe) "THE PALE KING represents Wallace's effort, through humor, digression and old-fashioned character study, to represent IRS not merely souled, but complexly so. He succeeds, profoundly, and the rest of the book's intellectual content is gravy. Yes, parts are difficult, but 'boring' never comes into it. And it's very, very funny." (Sam Thielman, Newsday) "It may be unfinished, but the reviews-cum-retrospectives all soundly agree: It's still a book to be read." (The Miami Herald) "A fully imagined, often exquisitely fleshed-out novel about a dreary Midwestern tax-return processing center that he has caused to swarm with life...a series of bravura literary performances--soliloquies; dialogues; video interview fragments; short stories with the sweep and feel of novellas...This is what 360-degree storytelling looks like, and if it doesn't come to a climax or end, exactly, that may not be a defect." (Judith Shulevitz, Slate) "It could hardly be more engaging. The Pale King is by turns funny, shrewd, suspenseful, piercing, smart, terrifying and rousing." (Laura Miller, Salon) "Strange, entertaining, not-at-all boring...Wallace transforms this driest of settings into a vivid alternate IRS universe, full of jargon and lore and elaborately behatted characters, many of them with weird afflictions and/or puzzling supernatural abilities...hilarious...brilliant and bizarre, another dispatch from Wallace's...endlessly fascinating brain." (Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly) "Exhilarating." (Hillel Italie, Associated Press) "Heroic and humbling...sad, breathtakingly rigorous and searching, ultimately hysterically funny." (Matt Feeney, Slate)

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