I started reading David Foster Wallace’s new unfinished novel, The Pale King. I would have guessed the focus would be more scattered, since he never wrestled together the stacks he left behind, but the pages I’ve read so far are cohesive and filled with a manic energy that matches the genius of the writing. If you’re not ready to tackle the novel, at least read chapter 5. It’s hilarious and sad and a thing unto itself. The New Yorker had an article this week about Wallace, written by his friend Jonathan Franzen. He maintains that Wallace chose his fans over his family with his death, which is a fascinating premise, one that I wish Wallace had a chance to refute. I also came across the now famous commencement speech Wallace delivered at Rutgers (I think it was Rutgers). In that speech, he achieves what all good writing does: he makes you realize truths you already knew but couldn’t quite articulate, one of the very things he touches on in the speech.
I’m also reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, the story of Lacks’s unwitting contribution to medical science. The book reads like a good novel, with good guys and bad guys, but with all their flaws and charms intact.