Cataloging Gets Personal


If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to be a cataloger of an author’s work, much less David Foster Wallace’s final book, you may want to give Jenn Shapland’s gorgeous essay, “The Human Heart is a Chump: Cataloging The Pale King” a going over.

“When you catalog an archive, you might imagine that there’s a set of strict rules and guidelines that will make it clear how, precisely, to organize, separate, and label materials. You might imagine that there’s a rubric or handbook of some kind that you can wield against the utter chaos of thousands of sheets of paper arranged in no perceptible order. Stacks of paper barely contained by their binder clips and enormous red rubber bands, stacks of paper that weigh a ton, stacks of paper that all look the same. I am the cataloger of David Foster Wallace’s final work, The Pale King, and I’m here to tell you that in cases like these, the rules will only get you so far.”

Good to read if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by countless sheets of paper yourself.

Nikita Schoen is an intern at The Rumpus, and a Writing & Literature student at California College of the Arts. She lives in San Francisco. More from this author →