"The Pale King" features an array of laid-back yet scintillating sentences, bucketloads of anecdotes and comic asides, a number of indelible characters to add to the Wallaceian roster, and more dull tax facts than the average CPA or even the most fanatic Wallace nerd will care to swallow. There's plenty of great writing and swathes of dead ink too. Wallace, so discursive, nonetheless fashioned hypnotic and coherent fictional worlds, and this embryo of "The Pale King" really does work in that regard, bounding through different timbres and tones of the American language while gathering the atmosphere of lost struggling people locked together in a strange institutional community. "Infinite Jest" gave us a mega-fiction revolving around Americans' addiction to addiction. "The Pale King" promised to be something deeper and more mournful — using the IRS as a metaphor for American sadness and loss, and American heart too.