As April 15th approaches, excitement for the release of David Foster Wallace’s new novel is growing. This morning, The Millions posted the first sentence of The Pale King. With this brief taste, some reviews, and previously published excerpts, I am awfully excited to read this novel.
Perhaps I am too much of a DFW fan to accurately analyze the coming work, but I find this sentence to be breathtaking. In one (albeit rather long) sentence, he wraps up a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge in an accurate description of a mid-western American landscape. Tax day can’t come soon enough.
While I have been trying to avoid the fetishization of DFW since his too-early death, I cannot resist re-posting these first lines:
Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb’s‑quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscadine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.