Mason & Dixon

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Mason & Dixon

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1chumofchance
Jan 1, 2011, 12:52pm

Happy New Year to all Pynchonphiles! I'm going to do a re-read of Mason & Dixon as soon as I finish The Deptford Trilogy. I thought maybe I could get some brief thoughts from those members who have read it as to what you really think of it. I found it to be his most difficult novel of all.

2sibylline
Jan 1, 2011, 1:19pm

It may be that you are right, but I found it deeply rewarding -- I mean, the scene of George and Mason and Dixon smoking weed on the porch of Mt Vernon. Can it get any better than that? I could reread it..... if I can find it, that is, we moved last June and half our stuff is still packed up. Also I am reading another insanely long and complicated book and just started it, so really I can't. (John Cowper Powys, A Glastonbury Romance I am such a glutton for punishment!

3paradoxosalpha
Jan 1, 2011, 6:27pm

I thought Mason & Dixon was especially accessible, compared to most Pynchon. Some people have trouble with the archaic styling of the language, but surely one can get over that in the first fifty pages or so! The strong realization of the central characters gives the book the sort of persistent core that I often find lacking in Pynchon's longer work.

4kswolff
Jan 4, 2011, 12:57pm

Might be fun to tackle along with Vollmann's faux archaisms in Argall

5elenchus
Jan 4, 2011, 1:24pm

I've not yet read M&D but it's on my shelves. I'd also heard it was one of his easier reads, tho' that might not translate to accessible.

I'm wading through a couple titles from 2010, but will monitor this thread and perhaps pick up M&D early in 2011. Based on my reading of Crying of Lot 49 years ago, I've been saving Gravity's Rainbow until such time as I think I can understand it,* perhaps M&D will be a step on that journey.

* I'm also saving myself for Ulysses: I must be inclined toward polyamory.

6kswolff
Jan 4, 2011, 2:52pm

Make sure to take a good guidebook on that journey. J. Kerry Grant has written companions to V and 49; there is also a guidebook to Gravity's Rainbow. I also have an Oxford Annotated edition of Ulysses. It helped Joyce's monumental book somewhat more intelligible.

7chumofchance
Jan 4, 2011, 8:53pm

I appreciate the feedback, and I'm delighted that this group is here, albeit sparingly. The release of Inherent Vice caused quite a stir here, but not so much since then. I'll begin re-reading M&D in a couple of weeks and will post questions and some thoughts as I go along. That way we can keep the group intact as we await the next Pynchon release, if there is one. And now sibyx has introduced me to Powys (see #2 above) and has since been placed on my 'to read' list. That is the reason I'm here.

8beelzebubba
Jan 4, 2011, 9:47pm

Wish I could join you in M&D. I have yet to tackle that one. But I'm currently trudging through Quicksilver, and plan on reading the second and third in this series before moving on to any other fiction.

9chumofchance
Jan 4, 2011, 11:19pm

Neal Stephenson is one of my favorites. After finishing the Baroque Cycle, you may want to try Anathem, if you haven't already.

10elenchus
Jan 5, 2011, 1:49pm

>8 beelzebubba:, 9

Hmmn: fellow travelers, it would appear. I've got Anathem on my shelves and hope to crack it early in 2011. I'll decide upon the Baroque Cycle based upon my reading.

>6 kswolff:

Do you know of other annotated editions or guidebooks for Ulysses, or is the Oxford edition the only you've read? I definitely want an annotated edition, but I'm wary of getting distracted by too many notes or sidebars. Perhaps it would be best for me to read an unannotated edition, with a separate guidebook at my elbow.

My primary experience of annotated reading is with Gardner's edition of Lewis Carroll, and I'm familiar enough with the books not to be distracted by his copious notes. That's certainly not the case with the Joyce for me.

11kswolff
Jan 5, 2011, 2:52pm

10: For the annotated Ulysses, I read the chapter and then the annotations once I finished the chapter. Better than flipping back and forth. Since I only read Ulysses once, it's the only version I've read. I got the cultural bragging points, no need to reread it.

12beelzebubba
Jan 5, 2011, 6:06pm

>9 chumofchance: I have Anathem, but haven't read it yet. It doesn't surprise me that anyone who likes Pynchon would find Stephenson a joy as well.

>10 elenchus: I have Ulysses Annotated, but didn't use it when I tackled Ulysses. Once I got going with it, found I really couldn't put it down. Of course, I know I missed out on a lot, but I do plan on re-reading it one day, at which time I will use the guidebook. It's pretty comprehensive, so I highly recommend it.

13elenchus
Jan 5, 2011, 10:19pm

Ulysses Annotated looks to be just the ticket, thanks for the pointer. Suspect I'll also have a "standard" edition to go along, but together I should be set.

14Makifat
Jan 6, 2011, 2:19pm

Just want to pop in and say I found M&D hilarious. As a book of joyful hilarity, it stands just below Gargantua and Pantagruel in my estimation. The opening sentence, mirroring the iconic first sentence of Gravity's Rainbow, brought tears to my eyes.

15kswolff
Jan 6, 2011, 2:59pm

People mention Stephenson, but there's another excellent author with Pynchon's encyclopedic capaciousness and antic humor: Alexander Theroux Laura Warholic is a tour de farce: a vindictive take-down of the idiocies of modern US culture. An Adultery skewers the pretensions of crunchy granola arts and crafters in New England, wrapped in a romance that disintegrates like the best of Henry James novels.

16sibylline
Jan 6, 2011, 3:08pm

I'm adding An Adultery to my wishlist -- read your review, sounds like fun.

>14 Makifat: Just want to say both the spouse and I hooted our way through M&D and it is heartening, always, to find other kindred readers.

17Makifat
Jan 6, 2011, 3:42pm

Don't forget Darconville's Cat!