new pynchon new pynchon new pynchon

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new pynchon!

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 16 July 2006 07:49 (seventeen years ago) link

This comment supposedly appeared - and then disappeared - under "Editorial reviews":

Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years
just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado
to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna,
the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska
Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood,
and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of
unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and
evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or
should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers,
corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents,
mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians,
spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo
appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an
unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue
their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives
that pursue them.

Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what
they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange
sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always
idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the
world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two.
According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

--Thomas Pynchon

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Sunday, 16 July 2006 09:59 (seventeen years ago) link

now I have six months left to crack that copy of Mason & Dixon gathering dust on the shelf...maybe on vacation?

m coleman (lovebug starski), Sunday, 16 July 2006 10:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I have to finish Gibbon by Decemeber, then.

More Tongue Feldman (noodle vague), Sunday, 16 July 2006 10:28 (seventeen years ago) link

900-odd pages! that excites me disproportionately.

that first paragraph seems very: "oh, what a very thomas pynchon set of things to get yourself into": but then it sounds a lot more conventionally epic than the others do, when you think about it. i'm not sure whether, i mean, i just realised i have no idea what i want from pynchon at this point. which is good! probably.

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 16 July 2006 11:34 (seventeen years ago) link

also groucho marx YES

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 16 July 2006 11:35 (seventeen years ago) link

It sounds very Mason & Dixon, from the blurb. But as Ned pointed out on ILE you can maybe see GR, M&D and now this as being some sort of trilogy of secret history.

More Tongue Feldman (noodle vague), Sunday, 16 July 2006 11:41 (seventeen years ago) link

It has the look of a 'V'-prequel to me... 'U', then.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Sunday, 16 July 2006 12:13 (seventeen years ago) link

i distrust ned

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 16 July 2006 13:57 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
no one mentioned that it is called 'against the day'. it is called 'against the day.'

the release date has been moved forward to november 21; the page count has gone up to 1040(!) pages; the description is back on amazon.

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 15:27 (seventeen years ago) link

As I cannot keep Against the Day in mind, I shall continue to refer to it as Untitled Thomas Pynchon.

c('°c) (Leee), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 17:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Tesla! Marvellous.
The Tunguska Event seems a very Pynchon thing to be written about.

Matt (Matt), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 20:50 (seventeen years ago) link

november 21!!!!!!!!!!!

Josh (Josh), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 20:56 (seventeen years ago) link

There should be - there can't help but be - a special ILB AtD reading group thread.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 22:05 (seventeen years ago) link

better hurry up with that vineland hey josh

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 17 August 2006 07:35 (seventeen years ago) link

title kinda sounds like a Bellow book.

jed_ (jed), Thursday, 17 August 2006 07:37 (seventeen years ago) link

The title sounds like what a made-up novel in a work of fiction might be called! Maybe that just means it's a stereotypical novel title though

Dan I. (Dan I.), Thursday, 17 August 2006 08:19 (seventeen years ago) link

vineland, how can i in good conscience start vineland given where i am in m+d

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 17 August 2006 08:55 (seventeen years ago) link

it's so hard being you.

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 17 August 2006 09:13 (seventeen years ago) link

hey this dissertation ain't writing itself, and BELIEVE ME I'M TRYING TO LET IT

but yo check THIS OUT

new excerpt:

Back in 1899, not long after the terrible cyclone that year which devastated the town, Young Willis Turnstone, freshly credentialed from the American School of Osteopathy, had set out westward from Kirksville, Missouri, with a small grip holding a change of personal linen, an extra shirt, a note of encouragement from Dr. A. T. Still, and an antiquated Colt in whose use he was far from practiced, arriving at length in Colorado, where one day riding across the Uncompahgre plateau he was set upon by a small band of pistoleros.“Hold it right there, Miss, let’s have a look at what’s in that attractive valise o’yours.”
“Not much,” said Willis.
“Hey, what’s this? Packing some iron here! Well, well, never let it be said Jimmy Drop and his gang denied a tender soul a fair shake now, little lady, you just grab ahold of your great big pistol and we'll get to it, shall we.” The others had cleared a space which Willis and Jimmy now found themselves alone at either end of, in classic throwdown posture. “Go on ahead, don’t be shy, I’ll give you ten seconds gratis, ’fore I draw. Promise.” Too dazed to share entirely the gang’s spirit of innocent fun, Willis slowly and inexpertly raised his revolver, trying to aim it as straight as a shaking pair of hands would allow. After a fair count of ten, true to his word and fast as a snake, Jimmy went for his own weapon, had it halfway up to working level before abruptly coming to a dead stop, frozen into an ungainly crouch. “Oh, pshaw!” the badman screamed, or words to that effect.
“Ay! Jefe, jefe,” cried his lieutenant Alfonsito, “tell us it ain’ your back again.”
“Damned idiot, o’ course it’s my back. Oh mother of all misfortune--and worst than last time too.”
“I can fix that,” offered Willis.
“Beg your pardon, what in hell business of any got-damn pinkinroller’d this be, again?”
“I know how to loosen that up for you. Trust me, I’m an osteopath.”
“It’s O.K., we’re open-minded, couple boys in the outfit are evangelicals, just watch where you’re putting them lilywhites now--yaaagghh--I mean, huh?”
“Feel better?”
“Holy Toledo,” straightening up, carefully but pain-free.
“Why, it’s a miracle.”
“Gracias a Dios!” screamed the dutiful Alfonsito.
“Obliged,” Jimmy guessed, sliding his pistol back in its holster.


i'm jumping up and down!!!

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 17 August 2006 09:53 (seventeen years ago) link

1. Whee! If ever a Pynchonian line of dialogue I've ever read: “It’s O.K., we’re open-minded, couple boys in the outfit are evangelicals, just watch where you’re putting them lilywhites now--yaaagghh--I mean, huh?”

2. But that makes another edition of GR that I have to get now?

c('°c) (Leee), Thursday, 17 August 2006 18:07 (seventeen years ago) link

1. yaaagghh
2. well yuh!

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 17 August 2006 18:47 (seventeen years ago) link

four weeks pass...
no one has noted yet that there is COVER ART. of a sort.

(and, comically, i have since read vineland but not touched m+d in some time.)

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 14 September 2006 05:40 (seventeen years ago) link

YOU CALL THAT ART??interrobang?

c('°c) (Leee), Friday, 15 September 2006 03:37 (seventeen years ago) link


Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 15 September 2006 10:57 (seventeen years ago) link

there's the proof!

the uk edition will probably go for a chick-lit angle.

jed_ (jed), Friday, 15 September 2006 15:42 (seventeen years ago) link

How was Vineland? Easy, breezy Cover Girl reading?

c('°c) (Leee), Friday, 15 September 2006 15:59 (seventeen years ago) link

so amazon is saying the uk edition comes out dec 5, two weeks after the us? bah i thought i read it wz gonna be simultaneous.

(is anyone going to order it from america, or would that be silly)

rtccc (mwah), Friday, 15 September 2006 16:55 (seventeen years ago) link

well, kind of, yeah. i had picked it up a couple of times in the past but never got more than a few pages in because i wasn't too motivated to read it and the opening didn't really do anything for me. but this time through there was really no holding back. it was laidback, amiable, pleasurable. only a little bit maybe two thirds of the way through did i start to feel a little impatient. but it didn't feel that engaging, compared to the high standard of the three books before it. i mean, i approached it more like, oh, what's this here - rather than it having me by the throat, or it being like an addiction, or my being guided by an incredible sense of wonder. i think this probably has a number of causes. the prose is toned-down, more approachable, less of a sheer display of brilliance. the story feels more linear, in the way it follows protagonists from place to place, and the way it incorporates retrogressions, memories, stories about the past, and also merely in its formal organization into chapters. i warmed up to most of the characters as i went but i feel as if maybe they weren't given enough time. it would be interesting to compare to lot 49 - it's not that much longer, but it seems that the number of prominent characters is bigger. also, a lot of the high-culture-low-culture intermingling struck me as deliberately awkward, or prominent, or blunt somehow. it was less integrated into the fabric of the story in a mythological way. and while i'm sure that serves to make a point about the characters' lives being dominated by pop culture in a new or more complete way, it didn't always work for me other than intelelctually. this could be because i'm missing some of the reference points, somehow, because parts did do it more for me. the opening takeshi chapter, for example, despite its kinda being dumb.

it strikes me than the whole thanatoid thing is the first time pynchon was so deliberate about making something semi-supernatural-abnormal-surreal-mythological seem constructed, invented, made up. and i thought it made it more awkward. that kind of connects with the references to the tube, as a thing, i suppose. those things especially combined to make it feel pointedly like the book had an argument, which is not something i'm used to from pynchon.

i know it will grow with rereading but i'd much rather read gravity's rainbow again. : )

also, he wasn't consistent about putting dates on the films that people mentioned. i wonder why.

Josh (Josh), Friday, 15 September 2006 17:58 (seventeen years ago) link

hahaha there is a key to that one josh

tom west (thomp), Friday, 15 September 2006 19:14 (seventeen years ago) link

vineland seems to have been started in a position of exhaustion and ended kind of replenished. about half of it works for me. i used to say the opening was 'too zappa' but i don't think that works, really. pynchon's (not v good) introduction to jim dodge's (alright) 'stone junction' maybe seems sort of relevant to where it seems P. is taking the easy way out, in some ways.

i think it's probably the first time that pynchon tackles the kind of 60s 'politics' which rather underpins the first three, and maybe manages to get a lot of that out of his system: viz its not really being present in mason and dixon? well okay it totally IS present in mason and dixon but in different ways.

the popcult stuff - there's a scene in a mall at the end which was really formative to how i looked at this stuff myself, when i read this. it's a hard one to unpack, tho.

apart from the cyberpunk bit it seems to avoid the kind of uh structural and/or superficial parodies of various genres that underpin most of his novels.

tom west (thomp), Friday, 15 September 2006 19:23 (seventeen years ago) link

what's the key tom? it never occured to me to think about it.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 15 September 2006 20:55 (seventeen years ago) link

tom do you think that because you're not counting most of the below as parodies or whatever (say sophisticated bakhtinian 'parodies' if you want) or because you think they're not structural or superficial?

the cop show / police procedural
godzilla movie
spy thriller with some kinda la femme nikita shit thrown in
a bit of road movie maybe?
the classic retreat-to-a-sanctuary-full-of-nuns-or-ninjas

i take it there are some more but those are off the top of my head.

and just to be clear, in what sense do you mean 'tackle'? in vineland he seems pretty argumentative and i suppose more direct about failures and weaknesses of countercultural/subcultural political action, and a bunch of other stuff, but isn't that kind of a big theme of part 4 of gravity's rainbow?

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 16 September 2006 06:18 (seventeen years ago) link

josh it is more because they completely passed me by! probably because these are all genres i've never really gotten around to. (mainly cuz jeez, you think the standard of english cop shows is up to much?* - ) although the godzilla bit is only like ... two pages? so you may be pushing it with some of these, i dunno. it's years since i read it.

yeah, tackles needed a qualifier like "directly". it is the first time he writes about countercultural/subcultural etc by writing straightforwardly about campus protests and such.

the movie thing divides the movies that are real from the ones pynchon made up, or at least i thought so.

*n.b. pedants i am sure that the sweeney or whatever was awesome but it was long long long before my time

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 16 September 2006 07:37 (seventeen years ago) link

i have a question - is there a page in g's r where it notes that slothrop's last documented appearance was in the credits (as kazoo player) on an album by The Fool? bcz i can't find it, see.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 16 September 2006 18:30 (seventeen years ago) link


Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Saturday, 16 September 2006 18:49 (seventeen years ago) link

thank you! christ, i swear i was looking at that page, i was definitely looking for the Dillinger bit. so is that credit on the album by the actual Fool, or is it just a coincidence?

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 16 September 2006 19:22 (seventeen years ago) link

ha yeah the whole thing with hector and brock is a total pastiche, based on something so familiar to americans that i hardly know how to pick a good movie or tv show in particular to illustrate it. there's a bit where the narrator makes a comment about how people react to police violence and rights violations on tv shows; i wonder if that stuff comes off the same way to the english.

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 16 September 2006 19:48 (seventeen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
eesh, i think i just ruined lot 49 for my classmates.

tom west (thomp), Monday, 9 October 2006 18:23 (sixteen years ago) link

The ending or the entire book?

c('°c) (Leee), Monday, 9 October 2006 19:29 (sixteen years ago) link

or the lot?

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 10 October 2006 01:52 (sixteen years ago) link

no mention of ?

milo z (mlp), Friday, 13 October 2006 15:48 (sixteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
The first review?

From Publishers Weekly. Starred Review. Knotty, paunchy, nutty, raunchy, Pynchon's first novel since Mason & Dixon (1997) reads like half a dozen books duking it out for his, and the reader's, attention. Most of them shine with a surreal incandescence, but even Pynchon fans may find their fealty tested now and again. Yet just when his recurring themes threaten to become tics, this perennial Nobel bridesmaid engineers another never-before-seen phrase, or effect, and all but the most churlish resistance collapses. It all begins in 1893, with an intrepid crew of young balloonists whose storybook adventures will bookend, interrupt and sometimes even be read by, scores of at least somewhat more realistic characters over the next 30 years. Chief among these figures are Colorado anarchist Webb Traverse and his children: Kit, a Yale- and Göttingen-educated mathematician; Frank, an engineer who joins the Mexican revolution; Reef, a cardsharp turned outlaw bomber who lands in a perversely tender ménage à trois; and daughter Lake, another Pynchon heroine with a weakness for the absolute wrong man. Psychological truth keeps pace with phantasmagorical invention throughout. In a Belgian interlude recalling Pynchon's incomparable Gravity's Rainbow, a refugee from the future conjures a horrific vision of the trench warfare to come: "League on league of filth, corpses by the uncounted thousands." This, scant pages after Kit nearly drowns in mayonnaise at the Regional Mayonnaise Works in West Flanders. Behind it all, linking these tonally divergent subplots and the book's cavalcade of characters, is a shared premonition of the blood-drenched doomsday just about to break above their heads. Ever sympathetic to the weak over the strong, the comradely over the combine (and ever wary of false dichotomies), Pynchon's own aesthetic sometimes works against him. Despite himself, he'll reach for the portentous dream sequence, the exquisitely stage-managed weather, some perhaps not entirely digested historical research, the "invisible," the "unmappable"—when just as often it's the overlooked detail, the "scrawl of scarlet creeper on a bone-white wall," a bed partner's "full rangy nakedness and glow" that leaves a reader gutshot with wonder. Now pushing 70, Pynchon remains the archpoet of death from above, comedy from below and sex from all sides. His new book will be bought and unread by the easily discouraged, read and reread by the cult of the difficult. True, beneath the book's jacket lurks the clamor of several novels clawing to get out. But that rushing you hear is the sound of the world, every banana peel and dynamite stick of it, trying to crowd its way in, and succeeding. (Nov.). Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Monday, 6 November 2006 14:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Skylight Books in L.A. is having a midnight sale for it on Monday!

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Friday, 10 November 2006 20:15 (sixteen years ago) link

a week early? bastards :(

tom west (thomp), Friday, 10 November 2006 21:07 (sixteen years ago) link

i too was incensed and put out until i decided that he meant monday the 20th. i hope.

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 11 November 2006 00:33 (sixteen years ago) link

'League on league of filth'

the pinefox (the pinefox), Saturday, 11 November 2006 09:56 (sixteen years ago) link

Josh, how ya been, sir?

LA Times review

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 20 November 2006 23:52 (sixteen years ago) link

From the reviews I've read it seems like TP has deliberately, almost sadistically, set out to write the novel that would most enrage James Wood - the ne plus ultra of hysterical realism.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 01:04 (sixteen years ago) link

man fuck amazon

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 01:43 (sixteen years ago) link

it's cute that someone's still hazing me in 2016

imago, Wednesday, 7 September 2016 22:26 (seven years ago) link

where would yous situate gravity's rainbow - in terms of difficulty - with reference to the rest of Pynchon's ooooeuvre? liked it but found it hard-going

ælərdaɪs (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 7 September 2016 22:31 (seven years ago) link

have only read crying and the three epics but GR is comfortably the hardest

imago, Wednesday, 7 September 2016 22:33 (seven years ago) link

I think Gravity is by far the hardest. Pynchon is actually really careful to create red threads throughout his books, he almost never jumps into something completely new without warning you first, but some of the links in Gravity are very minor. Yes, it's stated that Slothrop will take part in some experiments with drugs, but it's still a shock when the book devolves into hallucinatory nonsense about the Kenosha Kid. The Pökler's are only introduced in a vision from a medium, before the book all of a sudden jumps back to early thirties Germany. GR really is more fragmented and 'harder', while Mason & Dixon and Against the Day are more straightforward. GR really rewards rereading as well.

Something like Infinite Jest is much more willfully fragmented than anything Pynchon has ever done.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 7 September 2016 22:46 (seven years ago) link

found infinite jest an easy read, tho of course it is extremely to miss important plot points in ij because of the fragmented nature of the narrative

ælərdaɪs (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 7 September 2016 22:49 (seven years ago) link

I agree IJ is an easier read, I'm just saying that GR is actually more fragmented. When I wrote my thesis on GR I went through the first big chunks of both books and mapped out connections between sections. And GR always makes sure to introduce the following section, while IJ does not. It's just easy to overlook because there is SO MUCH going on in GR all the time, while IJ will spend pages on a businessman watching television.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 7 September 2016 23:11 (seven years ago) link

ows - the ten-hour anime of GR is one of the worst ideas ever and it pains me to see you subscribe to it, even if jokingly.

― xyzzzz__, Wednesday, September 7, 2016 4:58 PM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I feel like any adaptation of GR (one of my favorite novels) that attempts to be faithful to its source is going to be a debacle, so I'd want it at least to be a colorful one. Really, though, my dream adaptation would be a very long Rivette film with the kind of tenuous relationship to Pynchon that Out 1 had to Balzac.

one way street, Wednesday, 7 September 2016 23:22 (seven years ago) link

"Reef was always the reckless one," he recalled, "what folks call 'wild,' and Frank was the reasonable one, may've gone crazy now and then for a minute and a half, but I was never around to see it."

"And what about you, Kit?"

"Oh, I was just the baby."

"I think you were the religious one." Hard to tell just then if she was teasing.

^^^ ballsy

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Friday, 9 September 2016 05:23 (seven years ago) link

Really, though, my dream adaptation would be a very long Rivette film with the kind of tenuous relationship to Pynchon that Out 1 had to Balzac.

Yeah, I think an adaptation that can capture certain moods of the book and faithfully render certain scenes. Good shout on Rivette.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 9 September 2016 08:28 (seven years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I bet PTA winds up doing a film of GR...I read an interview with him during the filming of Inherent Vice where he claimed he had never read GR. That was so preposterous it made me suspicious

Iago Galdston, Monday, 3 October 2016 01:46 (six years ago) link

three years pass...

enjoying ATD even more on my second round, dude sends me to wikipedia more than any other author

sleeve, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 20:29 (three years ago) link


imago, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 20:35 (three years ago) link

even the weird, confusing part where the Chums end up incognito as students on a campus made more sense this time

sleeve, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 20:37 (three years ago) link

Huh was just wondering today if Bleeding Edge will be his last book, revive got my hopes up!

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 20:38 (three years ago) link

sorry! no dedicated thread for ATD.

sleeve, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 20:39 (three years ago) link

"dude sends me to wikipedia more than any other author"

yeah, was always pleasantly surprised to find out so many of the weird ass historical events referenced in his books were not just totally invented things.

circa1916, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 21:02 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

TP would be on my COVID worry list if he hadn't been self-isolating for the past 50 years amirite

strangely hookworm but they manage ream shoegaze poetry (imago), Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:07 (three years ago) link

he wasnt on mine but now he is, i tht this was a (deprecated) RIP notice >:(

mark s, Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:17 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

No dedicated thread for ATD. I'm about 180 pages in and really like it, even love it at moments. The Tom Swiftian opening is excellent and I never knew I wanted to know about labor unrest in 1890s Colorado.

One of my favorite parts of any Pynchon is when he outdoes Lovecraft in narrating the arctic expedition and what is brought back. Wiki says the destruction here is a reference to 9/11 NY. Also that the terrorism of the anarchists seems likewise drawing a sympathetic, or at least conflicted, viewpoint re: the 9/11 terrorists. Makes one wonder why he had to write an explicit 9/11 book later.

reassessing life after bookmarking a Will Smith thread (PBKR), Monday, 4 April 2022 11:40 (one year ago) link

dude sends me to wikipedia more than any other author

He was quite a challenge in the days before the Internet.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Monday, 4 April 2022 13:47 (one year ago) link

suspect it's the beast from 20000 fathoms that he's thinking of / superimposing on 9/11 in that section (tho monster-as-cargo is more king kong, and the style is lovecraftian yr right). breathtaking yeah. remember thinking it a real trick that ATD is the most conventionally "human" of his doorstops-- about a family like it's the corrections, "optimistic" even (despite its final image being a castle in the air)-- while also being the one that's switching to a different pastiche every fifty pages. (even mason+dixon more or less sticks to just one.) reassembles the 19c novel out of postwar scraps.

(also his best title imo: a physical description of the 90-degree angle that is the book's "rainbow"; a phrase for millenarian preparation or insurance; the title of a polemic.)

difficult listening hour, Monday, 4 April 2022 15:27 (one year ago) link

I have already gotten some indications of acronyms of organizations popping up (like in GR) and perhaps the Chums of Chance org being conspiratorial. Is Pynchon going to link the origins of modern capitalism in M&D to the robber barons in AtD to the military industrial complex of GR? I sure hope so.

reassessing life after bookmarking a Will Smith thread (PBKR), Monday, 4 April 2022 15:43 (one year ago) link

lol keep reading

you haven't even started the damn thing yet

imago, Monday, 4 April 2022 15:55 (one year ago) link

love ATD so much

thinkmanship (sleeve), Tuesday, 5 April 2022 03:44 (one year ago) link

The section where Reef goes to find his father is like Pynchon doing Cormac McCarthy and is great.

reassessing life after bookmarking a Will Smith thread (PBKR), Friday, 8 April 2022 12:59 (one year ago) link

The part where Lew goes to England is interminable.

we only steal from the greatest books (PBKR), Friday, 15 April 2022 15:14 (one year ago) link

lol is that the theosophical section, i liked that bit

(tbf i liked it all)

mark s, Friday, 15 April 2022 16:09 (one year ago) link

i need to reread it

mark s, Friday, 15 April 2022 16:09 (one year ago) link

the part I had the most trouble with was the weird bit in the middle where the Chums Of Chance go undercover and lose their identities

thinkmanship (sleeve), Friday, 15 April 2022 16:20 (one year ago) link

it was easier my second time through, but still

thinkmanship (sleeve), Friday, 15 April 2022 16:21 (one year ago) link

The only bit that threw me was the very end of the monster fourth section with Lew, which felt a bit tonally odd after the breathtaking wonders preceding it. But the subsequent coda restored matters at least

imago, Friday, 15 April 2022 16:26 (one year ago) link

the part I had the most trouble with was the weird bit in the middle where the Chums Of Chance go undercover and lose their identities

― thinkmanship (sleeve), Friday, 15 April 2022 16:20 (five minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

pure literary magic iirc

imago, Friday, 15 April 2022 16:27 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

The sections so far with Lake Traverse and Deuce Kindred are really great. Almost Faulknerian in spots.

PBKR, Wednesday, 25 May 2022 11:46 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

I add for posterity my reflection that Oedipa Maas in CL49 is an oddly more obscure character than we might think.

We know that she calls herself a political Republican (but almost nothing she says or does corroborates this - it's like a label that Pynchon conveniently attaches, but doesn't fulfil), and that she is a 'suburban housewife' - all this part of setting her up as an orthodox figure who can then be shaken up.

We know that she studied at Berkeley in the 1950s - English I think - probably graduating in 1957. That's as good as the back story gets.

As far as I recall, we don't know:

1: how she met Pierce Inverarity or why she had an affair with him.*

2: why she married Wendell Maas - as they don't seem to have anything in common - and don't seem to have had any plans to have children.

3: why she readily begins an affair with Metzger -- but more to the point here: why, as a married woman beginning an affair, she is not more worried about the consequences of sex, above all pregnancy. The guess must be that she is on the contraceptive pill - which would in turn relate to her marriage and, again, a reluctance to have children together. But as far as I recall, this is not mentioned, though it would arguably be a very new, 1960s theme and would relate to the drug aspects of the novel. A more general point here is that it does not seem to occur to Pynchon that contraception of some kind would be important to a woman in her position.

4: what has happened to her parents. Are they alive? If so, why, in increasing desperation, does she not think to contact them - or alternatively, think "Mom, I wish you were still around - I could sure do with your advice now"? Pynchon has made her effectively an orphan, but as far as I know he doesn't explain this.

*5: how old was Pierce Inverarity? Note that he died a few months before the novel begins, and changed his will a year earlier. He MAY have been killed by sinister forces (she wonders this near the end) - which would obviously be significant for the plot. Or he may have just died of illness (but then what illness?) or old age - but if the latter, how old was he? 70? That would make him over 40 years older than Oedipa!

I suspect that a few of the points above may in fact be addressed in the novel and that I have forgotten or missed them.

The most general point to emerge from these observations is that in this short novel, Pynchon rigged up something that feels quite plausible (Oedipa the housewife and her adventure), but in a way that actually has lots of holes and gaps that we probably don't notice because he keeps it moving fast. This principle could possibly be true of lots of other novels.

the pinefox, Saturday, 29 October 2022 13:18 (ten months ago) link

i don't know if this is helpful but this is the painting that oedipa remembers seeing = remedios varo's (embroidering the earth's mantle aka bordando el manto terrestre

mark s, Saturday, 29 October 2022 13:47 (ten months ago) link

I know it well and was thrilled to see it in person at Tate Modern this year !! (this is the centre of a triptych with two other parts - as you may know.)

the pinefox, Saturday, 29 October 2022 13:50 (ten months ago) link

Especially as someone who was raised as a Republican in the 1950s, and tended to think of myself that way into the early 60s---between the fall of McCarthy and the rise of Goldwater---I'm among those who think of it as being more inclusive back then, and a Berkeley grad who is curious, open-minded, has some educated sense of agency---but of isolation, of being a traveler, and is attracted to glimpses of the meaning of things, the order, the true System, whether it's something she's going to try to embrace or not---that sounds like a plausible Republican-identifying character to me.
She could eventually take it in a more Right or Left, John Birch or Aquarian direction, to where they might merge, in terms of conspiracy theories and "organic" pre-Covid anti-vaxxers etc, or not. Part of the attraction to Wendell "Mucho" Maas ("Mucho baby," as she addresses him at one point, indicating that he may well have mucho sex appeal), is the intensity and curiosity, idealistic tendencies, that they share, which he takes in the Aquarian direction, with LSD. Disturbing to her initially, but she may join him later, or go on a parallel path.
I think at this point some form of birth control could be understood by the reader as a given, ditto the sense of isolation I mentioned, in big old and modern California, with its own traditions of transition, whether she's literally an orphan or not. She's married, but not a period-stereotypical American Wife, incl. Mom, forever fixing dinner etc. He's currently preoccupied, maybe always has been to some degree, which may even be part of their compatibility, so far.

dow, Saturday, 29 October 2022 17:34 (ten months ago) link

Also, it's hard to picture, unless she had a really open-minded and Cali-savvy Mom, consultations about Thurn Und Taxis and Wendell's adventures with LSD.

dow, Saturday, 29 October 2022 17:46 (ten months ago) link

Hard to picture in that era, but doesn't mean it couldn't happen. Could have been good, but maybe taking away from the tension of her isolation, of mysteries left along the road to revelation, as can also happen off the page.

dow, Saturday, 29 October 2022 17:54 (ten months ago) link

And of course California, the Promised Land and so on, is such a complicated place, grids and sprawl and sunshine and smog and so much else. Even if you just want to keep your head to yourself and write code or pan for gold or smoke it, you have to have a plan, develop it or find it, for The Purpose-Driven Life, even one with cruise control as your goal.

dow, Saturday, 29 October 2022 23:43 (ten months ago) link

A leading physical metaphor for shore.

dow, Saturday, 29 October 2022 23:44 (ten months ago) link

at some point in the last decade i realised i was kind of reading oedipa maas against joan didion: not that they're identical but there are some useful points of similarity (social background, sensibility perhaps) which help triangulate the differences (tho they don't really answer any of PF's questions)

(oedipa's husband briefly turns up again in vineland, the second in TP's "californian trilogy")

mark s, Sunday, 30 October 2022 12:16 (ten months ago) link

I strongly agree about the common ground between the texts ie: between Maas and Didion. There are a number of specific points of such common ground.

I had forgotten about the Vineland appearance, though did know of it. But I only ever read half of Vineland, and do not think it is my kind of novel.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 October 2022 15:35 (ten months ago) link

re poster dow's post: it's not that I think CL49 should have a scene with OM's mother (though it could have been interesting for sure, and reminds me of another question: what was Oedipa Maas's maiden name?) -- rather that in 120 pages in which we feel intimate with this character and experience all her concerns, hopes and traumas, it's odd that she never once thinks of the existence or non-existence of any of her family (save her husband).

My general observation, again, is that there is an element of smoke & mirrors in the fictional process, in which OM feels quite a full and compelling character, but in some ways isn't; is a facade with less depth then we might think, who exists as a function and role ('actant'?) in the fiction and is less fully thought through and realised than she may seem.

I also reflected that the one novelist who WOULD, for good or ill, have thought through family backstory and brought it in, is ... Franzen.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 October 2022 15:43 (ten months ago) link

Maxine Tarnow in Bleeding Edge is possibly TRP compensating for the underwritten aspects of Oedipa - she's a much more fully drawn mum-gumshoe. Though funnily enough Mike Davis thought this was a virtue of CoL49 in comparison to Didion - he praised the novel for "wasting no time grappling with the alienation of its subject".

Piedie Gimbel, Sunday, 30 October 2022 15:50 (ten months ago) link

That sounds a good comment from Davis (whom I've almost never read).

I agree that Bleeding Edge comes over like a return to CL49 territory (I suspect that INHERENT VICE did too), though I also thought it was dire.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 October 2022 17:03 (ten months ago) link

four months pass...

On the 50th anniversary of Gravity’s Rainbow’s publication, it’s worth remembering that Laurie Anderson once asked Thomas Pynchon if she could stage it as an opera. His answer? Yes, as long as the whole thing was scored solely for banjo

— David Hering (@hering_david) February 28, 2023

the pinefox, Wednesday, 1 March 2023 10:26 (six months ago) link

Paging Bela Fleck…

o. nate, Wednesday, 1 March 2023 14:38 (six months ago) link


Wile E. Galore (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 March 2023 14:52 (six months ago) link

Part of the attraction to Wendell "Mucho" Maas ("Mucho baby," as she addresses him at one point, indicating that he may well have mucho sex appeal)

"Mucho" means "Lot." Oedipa is Lot's wife.

alimosina, Wednesday, 1 March 2023 15:09 (six months ago) link

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