Give yourself a clue by reading the New Yorker excerpt, which is about an IRS clerk at his desk who is so bored he has looked up the etymology of the word bore and is apparently hallucinating. It is a meditation on the empty soullessness of this daily activity -- hell, it's a foray into the very philosophy of boredom.
The whole issue was almost unbelievably meaningless and small. He thought about the word “meaning” and tried to summon up his baby’s face without looking at the photo, but all he could get was the heft of a full diaper and the plastic mobile over his crib turning in the breeze that the box fan in the doorway made. He imagined that the clock’s second hand possessed awareness and knew that it was a second hand and that its job was to go around and around inside a circle of numbers forever at the same slow, unvarying machinelike rate, going no place it hadn’t already been a million times before, and imagining the second hand was so awful it made his breath catch in his throat, and he looked quickly around to see if any of the examiners near him had heard it or were looking at him.A little flag: Hasn't the ironic/existentialist take on office meaninglessness been done? Don't we have Kafka and The Office for that?
However, now I see that the truly hilarious excerpt in Harper's last year is also an excerpt from The Pale King, and so now my excitement is revved back up. And now I will try the D. T. Max article on the story behind impending third DFW novel -- I mean, I will after I complete some work here at my desk, and I will try not to look at the clock.