Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Pale King event

Babbitt’s Books in Normal, Illinois, had a reading on Friday night to mark the publication of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. There are few more appropriate settings for such an event: Wallace taught at Illinois State University in Normal from 1993 to 2002, and he was a regular customer at Babbitt’s, which he once called his favorite bookstore. The setting for the reading was fittingly modest: a table with a small lectern, a dozen or so folding chairs, and aisles filled with people sitting and standing. (They included a Peoria Journal Star reporter.) Nine people read, from “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” “Good Old Neon,” Infinite Jest, and The Pale King. The readers included three of Wallace’s ISU friends, one of his ISU students, two of my students, and me. This event offered one of the plainest and best pleasures: listening to words read aloud.

Much kudos and gratitude to Brian Simpson and Sarah Lindenbaum for their hospitality.

[The world of The Pale King is an IRS office in Peoria, Illinois. Kudos is a singular noun. Brian’s last name is not Babbitt.]

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