“All That” — Another Excerpt from DFW’s The Pale King

The New Yorker recently published another excerpt from David Foster Wallace’s forthcoming posthumous novel, The Pale King. Their editors (?) are calling it “All That.” Here’s the first two paragraphs, although, if you’re a DFW fan you’ve probably already gone to the full excerpt:

Once when I was a little boy I received as a gift a toy cement mixer. It was made of wood except for its wheels—axles—which, as I remember, were thin metal rods. I’m ninety per cent sure it was a Christmas gift. I liked it the same way a boy that age likes toy dump trucks, ambulances, tractor-trailers, and whatnot. There are little boys who like trains and little boys who like vehicles—I liked the latter.

It was (“it” meaning the cement mixer) the same overlarge miniature as many other toy vehicles—about the size of a breadbox. It weighed three or four pounds. It was a simple toy—no batteries. It had a colored rope, with a yellow handle, and you held the handle and walked pulling the cement mixer behind you—rather like a wagon, although it was nowhere near the size of a wagon. For Christmas, I’m positive it was. It was when I was the age where you can, as they say, “hear voices” without worrying that something is wrong with you. I “heard voices” all the time as a small child. I was either five or six, I believe. (I’m not very good with numbers.)

The New Yorker published another excerpt from The Pale King they called “Wiggle Room” back in March, and a piece called “Good People” back in 2007. Harper’s ran another excerpt called “The Compliance Branch” last year, but you have to subscribe to read it.

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