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1doogiewray Premier message
Juil 29, 2006, 8:47am

His "Gravity's Rainbow" and "V." still leave me breathless after decades of re-reading.

His new book, "Against the Day," is scheduled for release on December 5th, 2006. He wrote his own witty teaser for Amazon. You can find it at:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159420120X/sr=1-1/qid=1154177021/ref=pd_bbs_1/1...

Of course, there's also the old "Where in the hell IS Thomas Pynchon, anyhow?" question.

Methinks he'd rather just be left alone, huh?

2tartalom
Juil 29, 2006, 10:49am

I don't really care where he's at, or what he looks like. Looking forward to the new book

3doogiewray
Juil 29, 2006, 3:52pm

To see what he looks like today, see the user picture that our newest group member - dhalgren !

(you can just click on "dhalgren" above on this page up by "Members:" Cool one, Adrian! and Welcome!)

4georgedavidclark
Juil 29, 2006, 4:09pm

I've been struggling through Gravity's Rainbow for the last week or so (only about 300pgs in) and wondered if anyone here has any suggestions. I haven't been able to find an annotation and a quick search of the internet yeilded little that helpful. A couple section/chapter summeries but little in the way of plication. Any advice? Thanks in advance.

5abductee Premier message
Juil 29, 2006, 4:23pm

Well, there's A Gravity Rainbow's Companion; a newly revised edition comes out this November (which is a bit far away for your current reading query). It's more constructed for historical background of the novel, though.

However, in my first reading of Gravity's Rainbow, I was gratefully assisted in my attempt at comprehension by Spermatikos Logos (Google it); under the 'Guides' seciton there is a well-constructed walk-through I highly recommend.

Cheers!

6lucasmurtinho
Juil 29, 2006, 5:20pm

As ridiculous as it sounds, I have to admit I find it hard to think of Pynchon as a mere author. His writing is so good, his secretiveness so alluring I like to think of his books as beautiful natural accidents. A bit like the ocean, except one can much more easily drown in a Pynchon book.

Silly metaphors aside, I am as crazy as the next person about Gravity's rainbow and V (although I think Vineland is only really good). But does anyone else think The crying of lot 49 is the biggest small novel ever written? Its plot is so intricate, its range so wide I still find it heard to believe that book has less than 200 pages.

7lucasmurtinho
Juil 29, 2006, 5:24pm

A bit off-topic, although not quite: the first non-Pynchon book in the weighted shared books list is White Noise by Don DeLillo. This is the only book I've read from DeLillo, but I got from it the impression he is a kind of gentler, simpler, more accessible Pynchon. Anyone agree?

8doogiewray
Juil 29, 2006, 5:52pm

I read DeLillo's Underworld and that was my impression, too. I enjoyed the read, but didn't get the same workout with which Pynchon challenges us.

And (re: lucasmurtinho) I found Vineland disappointing compared to some of his other work.

9doogiewray
Juil 29, 2006, 6:06pm

(Going through my own bookmarks)

You HAVE to check out Dr. Daw's Illustrated GR! http://www.themodernword.com/gr/

It's graphics are very cool and it gives a pretty good synopsis of each chapter in Gravity's Rainbow. I think this is the one to which abductee referred earlier.

Here are corrections and additions to Weisenburger's GR Companion: http://english2.mnsu.edu/larsson/gr1.html

There are many, many good sites with pages of links; one good one is:
http://www.themodernword.com/Pynchon/pynchon_links.html

Finally (for now), a fun read is by a Prof who alleges that he bumped into Pyncho three or four times over the years. It makes a good read that makes me laugh!
http://www.pynchon.pomona.edu/bio/adventures.html

10doogiewray
Juil 29, 2006, 7:29pm

George David Clark:
My advice is to not sweat it too much on your first reading. Just go with the flow and catch what you can catch and let the rest slip by.
All the jangled pieces dance about and eventually come together (well, let me take that back ... not all the pieces come together (hmm.... on second thought, maybe we should just leave it at "some" of the pieces come together )).
Anyhow, I'd say to not try to nail down everything or dissect things too much on a first reading. To do so might actually take away the enjoyment of the story as a whole.
If fate and your own nature dictate that you eventually end up loving the book, you may be inclined then to re-read it, at which time you'll find yourself taking notes and underlining names when they first appear (that might be a good trick to do even on your first reading) and that is the next level of making this work part of your soul .

Anyhow, good luck and I hope you end up enjoying it.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

11Eumenides
Juil 29, 2006, 7:55pm

I really liked the Gravity's Rainbow Compantion, but I found it slowed me down more than it helped. It's a little too bogged down in explaining period details, etc. I think it might be great for a second run through the book though, once the over all picture is grasped.

And responding to lucasmurtinho:

The Crying of Lot 49 was utterly fantastic. A friend lent it to me several years ago and it just blew me away. It totally got me hooked on Pynchon!

12abductee
Juil 29, 2006, 8:55pm

I agree w/many of the above remarks about The Crying of Lot 49; it's the perfect way to break one's Pynchon-cherry (if I might be so crude, er, direct). The longest short novel ever.

13rmharris
Juil 29, 2006, 11:22pm

Thanks so much for the links! I got my partner hooked on Pynchon by giving him V, but he got bogged down in Rainbow. My advice to him was the same as Douglas', just jump in and let it sweep you away, but he's resistant.
PS: will try to re-read Lot 49 before (what a great phrase!) the New Pynchon Novel comes out.

14papalaz
Juil 30, 2006, 6:01am

The biggest small novel is probably: Imagination, dead, imagine by Sam Beckett although I would contend that Hrabal's Too loud a solitude runs it close

I love the works and not the authors.

15doogiewray
Juil 31, 2006, 8:35am

Well, one thing is for certain ... this "Groups" thing is radically changing my "to read" pile.

Because of your comments, I dug out my old, old copy of Crying of Lot 49 yesterday and started reading it (ahead of the other three books I'm supposed to be reading). I remember it as being an OK read more than twenty years ago), not one of Pynchon's best, nor his worst (in my opinion, of course).

Right off the bat, though, chapter two (Oedipa and the lawyer Metzger in her motel room, drinking, watching reruns of his childhood movie star movies (dad, son, St. Bernard in a mini submarine singing as they fight the enemy) and playing strip Botticelli (she having put on about 100 articles of clothing) with the teenage rock band serenading them outside on the pool) ... well, that chapter had me laughing out loud and is right up there with what I consider to be one of the most funny things in all of literature: the British Candy chapter from Gravity's Rainbow (oh, Gawd! THAT one leaves me crying, it's so funny).

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

16abductee
Août 2, 2006, 1:41am

Thank you for the recommendations, papalaz.

17rknickme
Août 2, 2006, 11:33am

doogiewray - I haven't gotten too far through the Illustrated GR, but what I've seen is really amazing. I only finished my first read of GR a month or so ago, but it makes me want to pick it up again to read with the images at my disposal. A different kind of annotation.

18ImNotDedalus
Août 2, 2006, 12:00pm

I'm lookin' forward to Zak Smith's illustrated edition of Gravity's Rainbow, scheduled for release about a week before Pynchon's new novel:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0977312798/sr=8-1/qid=1154533829/ref=sr_1_1/104...

The book is headlined as "A Picture for Every Page," which should be an interesting experience. Diligence is the word.

19hippietrail
Août 3, 2006, 12:28am

I've been struggling through Gravity's Rainbow for several months now and I think I'm only about 200 pages or so in.

I must be much more ignorant than I ever guessed because... what the hell is this book—I just don't get it at all. )-:

20hippietrail
Août 3, 2006, 12:35am

Prior to starting but after purchasing Gravity's Rainbow I read Richard Powers's Galatea 2.2 and enjoyed it immensely though it was flawed. On investigation I found it very common that Powers is compared to Pynchon.

So what do the Pynchon fans think of Powers? Who has read him?

21Melmoth
Août 4, 2006, 11:42pm

Feeling a need to stick up for Vineland :) I love it as much as V. and Gravity's Rainbow, and more that Mason Dixon.

I agree it's got a different feel and the material is a little more pulpish, but I very much enjoyed the adventure. While the imagery did not make my guts drop out from under me like it did at certain points in GR and V., I still think its a great novel.

I agree its different, but I still love it :)

22rmharris
Août 5, 2006, 10:56am

I agree with doogiewray: Chapter 2 of Lot 49 always knocks me out. Very funny. As for Vineland, I think people would have thought more highly of it if it had been written by someone other than Pynchon -- particularly since it was his first post-Rainbow novel. The book I have, but haven't really jumped into yet, is Mason & Dixon (although I did think the first paragraph, which echoes the famous "A screaming comes across the sky" opening of Rainbow, but with a snowball instead of a rocket, to be nice 'wink' at us fans/readers)

23dabacon Premier message
Août 7, 2006, 6:33pm

To jump on the sticking up for Vineland bandwagon, I've always had this strange theory that the reason Vineland gets panned was that it hit too close to home for many of its readers, especially those in, for want of a a less silly set of words, the liberal academia.

I mean the book is about basically the failure of a generation and the rise of a Nixonian/Reaganite state, something which, for many of the readers who lived through that era they may not want to face up to. Much easier to deal with GR, which is a story about their parents generation than to

Okay, well I'm biased because I grew up in Northern California! (and if you think the SF Bay Area is Northern California, you might be surprised by looking at a map :) )

24doogiewray
Août 10, 2006, 3:21pm

Just finished "Crying of Lot 49" this morning and am now through the first chapter of "V."

Lot 49 was a good read (I really didn't remember much of the book since it had been decades since I had last opened the covers). Some of it was great, rollicking fun; some of it full of the usual Pynchon convoluted twists; and it was peopled with the usual, wonderfully oddball Pynchon characters, but, still, I have to admit that the ending left me a bit, what?, unsatified? (not that my own personal satisfaction is high on the list of objectives for any author writing a novel).

Oedipa sort of cops out, opting to just walk away in order to preserve her sanity (or does she? (to which I asked again "Well, does she?"). I suppose that with a bit more writing, the novella could have become a good novel (and still be a rather short one, compared to Pynchon's usual standards). I just felt that the plot and Oedipa's development had only gone half-way and then just ended.

But, then again, I, myself, never won any awards for writing, so who am I to criticize?

Looking forward, after many years, to rereading V. now, because it's always been one of my favorite novels of all time/authors. Maybe I'll go right into Gravity's Rainbow after that (whew!).

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

25kandroma1 Premier message
Modifié : Août 11, 2006, 3:46pm

After reading that work "a few" times and chewing over writings about it, I'd like to offer a few ideas:

(It will ruin your mind, but as you've already started reading it...)

Consider paranoia to be a hyperawareness of systems, and that the paranoic's appreciation of their operation may be accurate or misguided. Pynchon seems to want to play with this idea by creating "plot subsystems" within the novel, where people, places, things, and meanings are connected using different "languages." The mathematical language that starts with stats (the Poisson distribution), the Pavlovian stimulus/response talk of the behaviorist-type, rocket engineering talk from Pökler and his buddies, and the very wierd sado/maso/auto/whatever sex talk of practically everyone are examples of this.

The language shifts as speakers shift - but sometimes also within speakers. Always, though is the tendency for the interpretations to Go Too Far, and that's how you are signaled that the speaker has jumped the rails and taken you with it/him/her. Enjoy the ride (like the folks on the bus? I hope not), and realize that the explanatory landscape will change over the next hill.

Your job is to identify these squirmy plot subsystems and see how they all interact, without getting too lost in a subsystem's language or becoming too paranoid yourself. (You may need to pay a bit less attention to World Events to accomplish this.)

(Note how Byron the Bulb developed from a simple meditation on standard deviations on lightbulb life to the rather creepy idea of power grid behavioral monitoring and enforcement.)

Have "Fun!"

26doogiewray
Août 11, 2006, 3:53pm

Good advice, kandroma1!

I just found a great link; Advice for Newbies (Pynchon)

http://www.hyperarts.com/pynchon/newbies.html

And, wouldn't ya know it? Right there about half-way down was a perfect statement about my own second thoughts after I typed the bit above about Oedipa copping out (Lot 49) ...

"If you must have closure, you may be SOL with Pynchon."

Really! Consider Gravity's Rainbow and how it continues past the last page for the rest of your Life.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

27marietherese
Août 11, 2006, 4:29pm

The Hyper Arts Pynchon page is probably my favorite Pynchon website. The web guides for V., Gravity's Rainbow and Mason and Dixon are really useful: they provide just enough information to answer those nagging little questions about who, what, where and when, but no so much that the reader gets bogged down or loses that wonderful sense of new surprises just around the corner that every Pynchon story inspires.

28doogiewray
Août 24, 2006, 5:08pm

Well, as I was rereading V., I just had to stop and say "Wow!" after chapter three ("In which Stencil, a quick change artist, does eight impersonations").

Quite a piece of writing for the younger Thomas Pynchon.

What are some of your favorite passages from any of his work?

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

29lizvelrene
Août 25, 2006, 12:17pm

I didn't much like The Crying of lot 49. Am I hopeless for Pynchon or should I try something else instead?

(Note: I also had problems with Galatea 2.2 for similar reasons - wanted to like it, could not get engaged, found it pointlessly pompous at times.)

30doogiewray
Modifié : Août 26, 2006, 1:18pm

Hmmm ....

I see you have some Tom Robbins (my main "guilty pleasure"), some Italo Calvino and some Gabriel Garcia Marquez in your own library.

I'm certainly not the expert in anything to be speculating here, but, hell, here I am and so there I go (damn the topedoes!)

Much of Pynchon has the zany wildness of Robbins (didn't the motel scene in Lot 49 remind you of Robbins?), the seemingly disjointed leaps between chapters of Italo Calvino (though with everything - er, I've done it again - make that "much" of the disjointed chapters weaving together at the end), and, finally, that epic, dreamworld of Marquez.

So, assuming that you liked some of those authors in your library, I'd say that it's worth another try with Pynchon. There's no clear choice of WHICH Pynchon with which to start out, since it really depends on the reader (where they're coming from and where they think they're going?).

I'll take a chance and recommend you try V. (touchstone doesn't work, darn it). Anyone else have some suggestions? Marietherese?

Marietherese said in her review: "This is hands down my favorite Pynchon novel and among my top ten "desert island" reads. Be sure to read it at least once in your lifetime."

By the way, my favorite Pynchon novel is Gravity's Rainbow with V. behind by just a nose. I'm rereading V. right now, though, so maybe the race isn't yet over.

So I suggest you don't give up yet, but if you find that Pynchon is, indeed, not your cup of tea, so be it ... you'll still be a friend here!

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

31doogiewray
Oct 1, 2006, 12:48pm

Well, it's been over a month since anyone (well, I see that the last "anyone" was myself) has posted here. Being the optimist that I am, I'll just assume that everyone has been real busy of late and that our love of the writings of one TRP has not diminished.

I said that I had started reading V. again (after having just finished my rereading of Crying of Lot 49), but I, too, have been pretty busy of late and I'm still working on it (V., that is). I have found though that, after about 30 years since the first/last time I read it, it is even better than I remember it from those hazy younger daze.

I just finished the Confessions of Fausto chapter (bombing siege of Malta) last night and was astounded at the craft and beauty of this story within a story (wheel within a wheel). Earlier, Mondaugen's story of the Boschian siege party opened an unrestrained telling of the darkness and evil that we each carry within ourselves.

Anyhow, even though I haven't finished it yet, I strongly recommend V. for Pynchon readers at any "level" (just beginning to know it all by heart).

My goal is to finish it by Wednesday, October 4th, when I take off for two weeks to stay on Monhegan Island, Maine ... hopefully with my much dog-eared, heavily underlined, and fully mariginally (ah, another paradox?) notated copy of Gravity's Rainbow (what I meant was that the margins of my copy are inundated with my own sophomoric observations).

Then (hopefully) I might be done with Rainbow (one of my favorite books of any author and any time) by the time Pynchon's new novel appears in December.

I was thinking of starting another Pynchon sub-group where we could just type out all of the zany songs that he's invented in his novels ... Ruggles Songbook, of course!

We'll see if I find the time to do that, though (certainly not until I get back from Monhegan).

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

32desultory
Oct 1, 2006, 5:01pm

Just in case this is of interest to anyone, I read V when I was about 18. Coming after Catch-22 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest I was baffled, but I loved it. I am still haunted by the ending, although I haven't looked at in xx years (or more).

Tried Gravity's Rainbow almost immediately after. Couldn't finish it. Not sure it's worth trying now.

Read Mason & Dixon about five years ago. Wonderful. Best novel I've read in years. Warm, funny and original. Mind you, I think most modern novels are a waste of time. Is that why I liked M&D?

33doogiewray
Oct 4, 2006, 10:13am

Today's Hartford Courant Crossword Puzzle (Norris/Lewis editors, maybe created by Jeff Armstrong?):

43 Across: Like many Thomas Pynchon or Don DeLillo novels.

(Answer: postmodern)

34bric
Oct 22, 2006, 2:34am

I have been told by Amazon UK that the Dec. 6th release of 'Against the Day' has been cancelled; does anyone have any information?

35abductee
Oct 31, 2006, 3:07am

Hm, no info on that. In the US, the release date is set for Nov. 21st, but some rumors have tended to imply that the 'street date' might be bumped to early Nov.

I've been reading press on the UK release, but haven't heard of any delay - if there were to be one, it would purely be due to the amount of stock printed being significantly under that ordered.

36nog
Modifié : Nov 3, 2006, 1:36am

Ah, only 19 days to go...

The Amazon page for Against the Day now has a short review posted from Publishers Weekly. Check it out, Pynchonites...

Also, there is a a Pynchon wiki happening soon, where we can all contribute whatever, and that is at www.pynchonwiki.com

more interesting rumors and hype can be found at pynchon.blogspot.com

the galleys are out there, the critics are working their way through the wonderful maze that any new TRP work promises...the reviews should hit soon, so google on...

37blackbub
Nov 3, 2006, 5:00pm

I just finished Cring of Lot 49 and found it absurd, ridiculous, and tedious reading. I wouldn't mind giving Pynchon another shot but not if all of his material is this awful. Any suggestions?

38doogiewray
Nov 3, 2006, 8:54pm

V.

39nog
Nov 3, 2006, 11:01pm

COL49 is less than 140 pages, and you found it tedious. I suggest that if you found his style unappetizing, you are unlikely to find his longer works less tedious. Also, it's likely that most people posting here will disagree that COL49 is awful, so we're not likely to be of much help with your tastes, which of course can hardly be gleaned from your three sentence posting. COL49 is TRP's "easy" book, and it is generally agreed that Gravity's Rainbow promises some tough going. Unless you find the plot summaries of V. and Vineland compelling, I would try other authors that sound interesting to you.

40A_musing
Nov 5, 2006, 5:06pm

Blackbub - I'm afraid nog is right. If you'd merely found it absurd, there might be hope, but once you've found Pynchon tedious as well, you've put yourself in the category of those who are don't and are unlikely to ever get it. You can try V, or perhaps even Mason-Dixon, but I'd doubt you'd enjoy either.

41doogiewray
Nov 11, 2006, 1:26pm

Howdy, friends-

Here's a great article on upcoming Pynchon novel.

Related topic: why wasn't "Against the Day" (hmm... touchstone gives some other book, darn it!) considered for the National Book Award?

Update on my own Pynchon Odyssey: finished Crying of Lot 49 a while back, went right into and finished V. (well, that touchstone still doesn't work, either, drat!) while on Monhegan Island, Maine in October, and then, most recently, went right into Gravity's Rainbow (for my nth reading ... it gets more and more incredible as I get older and older) and hope to finish it before my copy of "Against the Day" gets here.

Never read four Pynchon novels back-to-back before; it's quite a trip and I'm a-lovin' it!

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

42doogiewray
Modifié : Nov 11, 2006, 1:43pm

Heyo!

Sorry to bother you all again, but I just found another great entry in Wikipedia about "Against the Day" which includes an extract that certainly whets my appetite and had me laughing out loud.

Oh, what the hell, I'll paste it here until somebody tells me to delete it (read it quick before the copyright police get it)...

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," Willis said.

"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 punkinroller'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.

(The reference to the "cyclone" dates this scene to shortly after April 27, 1899, when a tornado passing through Adair County cut a path of destruction three blocks wide, killed thirty-two people and destroyed hundreds of buildings. The popular song "Just as the Storm Passed O'er" was based on the event, and the Kimball Piano Company exploited the incident for its advertising, when one of their instruments was carried a long distance by the tornado but still found in working condition.)

What do you think? I can't wait, myself!

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

43Elpenor
Nov 12, 2006, 5:39am

I find that extract rather disappointing -- I think the Pynchon of Gravity's Rainbow would have used the osteopathy-duel-idea for a sentence or two, not an entire page or two. My expectations for the upcoming novel are still high, though.

44doogiewray
Nov 12, 2006, 5:02pm

On the other hand, in Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon has whole chapters in this light; one of my personal favorites is Slothrup having to endure the pre-war stash of British Candy Novelties from the mother of one of his many, um, shall we say "female acquantances?" Among the many other examples of Pynchon GR humor, there's also the early chapter of Slothrup (under the effects of truth-serum) recalling and enlarging upon chasing after his jive-accessory harmonica after it fell down the toilet at a jazz bar (well, not ALL funny ... it has some very dark overtones, too).

Whole chapters, not just a page or two ... wonderfully fun and (of course) setting the stage for subsequent developments of character and plot (usually not so humorous, either).

But, Elpenor .... in a way, I sort of agree with you in that I have to admit that while I was reading this excerpt, I was thinking it sounded more like Tom Robbins than Thomas Pynchon.

Tom Robbins is at the top of my "Guilty Pleasures" list (see the LJ Group by the same name); I LOVE Tom Robbins for his zany, fun reading that makes you think once in a while, but he usually doesn't go to the depths of our own subconsciousness like Pynchon.

Anyhow, we'll see how it goes after the 21st, right?

I see that the earlier linked AP article is currently appearing on the Yahoo homepage today.

Take care,

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

45Elpenor
Nov 15, 2006, 11:24am

Now I have a copy of Against the Day, and will spend the next week (or two) reading it. So far I've only read the first page, and while it isn't Pynchon's best first page, it makes me look forward to the 1084 others. I am, after all, a fan...

(Best first pages, according to me:
1. Gravity's Rainbow
2. Mason & Dixon
3. The Crying of Lot 49 )

47doogiewray
Nov 19, 2006, 5:20pm

Oh, desultory ... thanks for that article! I laughed out loud at some of the introspective reactions that I shared with its author.

The bit about trying to figure out marginalia that you wrote decades earlier was particularly on the mark. In my recent rereading of my favorite Pynchon books, I frequently scratch my head and just smile and wonder what the hell I was thinking back then (though, thankfully, I found myself underlining some of my own earlier notes).

Maybe we should start a new thread where we list lines from Pynchon that we underlined in our own books (hmmm ..... another question - is there ANYONE out there that DOESN'T write in their own copies of Pynchon? Whew! Talk about Parallel Universes!).

Anyhow, thanks for the link. I really enjoyed it.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

48doogiewray
Nov 19, 2006, 5:31pm

Oh, I thought I had died and gone to heaven (pretty good for an agnostic, huh?).

There I was in my local Borders earlier this week. I had gotten an email saying the Against the Day would be in selected stores (at 30% off list price).

I checked the "New Releases" shelf by the entrance ... no Pynchon (drat!).

I went over to the Ps of the Literature Section and, Voila!, there were about a half dozen copies of Against the Day.

With a copy of it in my clenched hands, I went to Customer Service to ask why there wasn't a 30% off sticker on the book. They (of course) went to their computers and scratched their heads and called supervisors (who further fiddled with the computers and scratched THEIR heads) until I mentioned that the book wasn't really supposed to be released until Nov. 21.

Aha! (went the supervisor) .... who promptly removed the now soiled copy of the book from my sweaty hands, saying that they could NOT sell the book to me and that they had to remove all the copies of the book from the shelves or else they could be fined (by whom? Pynchon Paranoid Police?).

I guided the supervisor to where I had found the book and there was another soul (we instantly recognised each other even though we had never met) who had a copy in HIS hands, too ... the stern supervisor removed the copy from his hands, too (oh, to have had a camera to capture the look on his face!).

Oh, well ... I'll be there Tuesday morning (right at opening time).

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

49Elpenor
Nov 20, 2006, 3:38am

Now I've read 400 pages, and am very entertained, even though there are problems with the book. Among which is its reliance on advanced mathematics for its central imagery (the V2 rocket was more tangible, somehow).

Those who plan to read it could start preparing now by brushing up their vector analysis and quaternion maths.

50doogiewray
Nov 20, 2006, 10:59am

Hi folks-

Another LT person sent me a message asking me which book I would suggest to get started with Pynchon. For what it's worth, here is a copy of my rambling, much-too-long answer (just in case it might help someone else, or, on the other hand, hopefully, to seed discussion of other opinions here):

Well, in answer to your question of which Pynchon book I would recommend, others would probably recommend different ways to dip one's toes into the Pynchon Ocean, but I personally suggest going to V. first. It is one of his best, but, still, takes a bit of work to keep from getting lost, but nowhere like the effort that Gravity's Rainbow takes.

It's very well worth the small effort, though, in that his writing is amazing and the story line(s) is(are) engrossing.

My favorite, though, is Gravity's Rainbow (which I think was also the first Pynchon book that I read). It takes a LOT of effort, but it is also SO worth that effort. At times, you just stop and utter "WOW! How'd he do that?" Some folks have suggested that he has built some sort of machine that gets into the heads of all of us as we're asleep and dreaming. His insights are astounding.

Many folks have V. as their favorite (LibraryThing User marietherese is one of those and you might consider asking her for her opinion, too; she seems to be more articulate and thoughtful that I am); I won't argue .... I love both of the books. I recommend V. because it has only two main story lines (both of which are at different time-eras) and it jumps between the two at fairly regular intervals, so it's a little easier to follow. It's a wonderful book and when I recently finished rereading it, I was very tempted to just start it over (I opted, though, to go right into Gravity's Rainbow again). marietherese has stated that V. is a book that everyone should read once before they die and that it is one of her "must have on deserted island books" (well, those aren't direct quotes, just impressions from reading her reviews and comments).

Some people argue that one should start out with his shorter, "easier" novel, The Crying of Lot 49, but my opinion is that, while it is entertaining, it isn't up to the level of V. or Gravity's Rainbow and that you'd be better off going right for the great stuff rather than the good stuff. Mason & Dixon is also very entertaining and a bit easier to read, but, still, in my opinion, it's not quite at the level of the other two. I was disappointed in Vineland, but some folks like that one too. In fact, you can find people who will disagree with everything I say here (but, thankfully, you can also find many who would say "Hear! Hear!").

Haven't read his new book yet (comes out tomorrow officially), but there's an early review of the first 400 pages in the Pynchon Pandemonium Group.

Short version of all my babble here: try V. or Gravity's Rainbow - you'll find out quickly whether you like Pynchon or not (and there are alot of people who just can't stand his stuff ... that's ok ... different strokes, right?). I recommend V. first because it's just slightly less convoluted than Gravity's Rainbow, but both are great novels and extraordinary writing and, if you do find you like Pynchon, you'll be rewarded for your effort to stick with it.

Hope that helps. Oh, yes, if you do buy a copy of Pynchon, PLEASE underline favorite passages and write your impressions in the margins. Such dialogues with the author are half the fun!

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."
posted by doogiewray at 10:47 am (EST) on Nov 20,

51abductee
Nov 20, 2006, 9:32pm

I decided to wait until tomorrow (the "official" release date here in the US) to get my copy of Against the Day, & am taking the day off to begin my reading over a scrumpulous lunch and bottle of finest chianti. Good food & spirits seem to go well w/Pynchon's works. Good friends as well ;-) Cheers!

52catecolem
Nov 20, 2006, 10:23pm

Ah yes, tomorrow at 9:01 AM I will stroll into Follett's Intellectual Property (24th & Guadalupe in Austin) and pick up my reserved copy of Against The Day. I'm looking forward to a Pynchon-packed Thanksgiving Break! Happy reading to all of the other patiently impatient folks out there...oh, and yes, chianti seems like a most appropriate salute. Happy reading, abductee!

53nog
Modifié : Nov 22, 2006, 1:12pm

I must have been a good boy this year, because there was an Amazon box on my doorstep yesterday, Nov. 20. And I selected Standard shipping!

"Up we go!"

...I already mentioned this, but now that we're all busy with actually reading the book, don't forget about pynchonwiki.com. It's really up and running now, and it's devoted to Against the Day, and hey, you can contribute to it too...

54doogiewray
Modifié : Nov 30, 2006, 7:20am

Well, my new copy of Against the Day arrived by post the other day.

The dilemma is, however, that I am only a quarter through my rereading of Gravity's Rainbow.

The temptation to read just, oh, say a page or two of the new book is very great, but, hell!, I am really enjoying GR right now.

So I wonder ... do you get more out of each rereading of a good book: (a) because you now have a better understanding of the overall plot/context/characters/relationships/(and so on); or (b) because you're older and (hopefully) wiser. What do you think?

Anyhow, I think I need to hide my new copy of ATD for a while. I also need to make some more time to just sit and read.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

55Melmoth
Jan 10, 2007, 7:24pm

I think you're correct on both points. Each re-read helps you explore deeper layers as you have a better feel for the terrain. But you also notice new things that you have experienced since the last read, references, etc.

56doogiewray
Mai 8, 2007, 7:43am

Happy 70th Birthday, Thomas Pynchon ... we love ya!

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

57doogiewray
Mai 11, 2007, 9:53am

Well, it took me almost six months, but I finished reading Gravity's Rainbow yesterday.

It took so long, not because of any struggling with the reading, but, rather, relishing it all during the very short reading windows that seem to be rarer and rarer these days.

My favorite reading places are: (1) the little Japanese restaurant that I go to on Tuesdays when my woodwind quintet rehearsal is cancelled (raw tuna, saki and Pynchon ... does it get any better?); and (2) late at night in my hot bath tub with a spot of rum (though usually I fall asleep and come close to dropping the book in the water ... all my bookmarkers have watermarks, real watermarks!).

You might recall that I've been working my way rereading straight through: (1) The Crying of Lot 49; (2) V.; and, now Gravity's Rainbow.

So, last night I finally picked up my now dusty copy of Against the Day, took a deep breath, asked myself "Do I really want to do this?" and opened it up and started reading. We'll see how it goes.

This reading of GR has to be about my sixth time through it. When I finished V. again last October, I loved it so much that I came close to just turning back to page 1 and starting it all over again, but GR is still my favorite Thomas Pynchon novel (but only just slightly more than V.). In fact, it's right up there with a couple of Joyce's works as my favorite 20th century novel (and certainly my favorite novel of the second half of the 20th century). Ever time I read it, I find it even more amazing!

So, anyhow, I know it's been kind of quiet in this talk group of late, but I was wondering if any of you who started reading Against the Day have actually finished it. What are some of your impressions of the book? Did you like it or not? How does it compare to other Pynchon novels?

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

58ateolf
Modifié : Mai 18, 2007, 12:19am

i've finished it (Against the Day) and it was very good...it probably ranked relatively low compared with his other books...the only one i haven't yet read is V....definitely not as good as Gravity's Rainbow or Mason and Dixon, but that's not saying much...not a very in-depth "review" here...but anyway...

59mg686 Premier message
Mai 22, 2007, 8:02pm

I finished Against the Day last night. I started reading it in December, so this was a 6-month read. I had a love/hate relationship with the book. I really wanted to get through it, but around page 600 I started losing track of people, thinking that I pretty much knew the characters and didn't have to keep recording them on note cards. At that point, I was just surfing along, looking for cool phrases and hoping I would regain my understanding of the action without having to go reread. In any event, the last 150 pages or so were much better, and I'm glad I climbed this mountain.

Call me a nerd, but I really liked the physics and the science fiction aspects the best, with the Chums of Chance being the most entertaining characters for me (because I read Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers and Tom Swift and His Wonder Camera last summer after I picked them up in an antique store).

I was intrigued by Pynchon when I read The Crying of Lot 49 in high school 30 years ago, and I had tried Gravity's Rainbow as well back then, but never made it through. I can't write a better review than all the "professional" reviews I've read, but I agree with all of them that say the book is by turns satisfying and frustrating.

60doogiewray
Modifié : Sep 22, 2007, 6:53pm

Ah, I have FINALLY finished my own copy of Against The Day tonight (final eight pages in a hot bubble bath with a bird-bath sized Margarita (that's a drink we indulge here in the colonies ... unfortunately, not another Pynchon-loving Soul Mate from Andalusia)).

This reading finishes a very long Pynchon Marathon that I began last year:

The Crying of Lot 49: 7/10/2006 - 8/10/2006

V.: 8/10/2006 - 8/14/2006 (was on a small island off coast of Maine, very few distractions)

Gravity's Rainbow: 8/23/2006 - 5/10/2007 (back on mainland, many, many distractions)

Against the Day: 5/10/2007 - 9/22/2007 (ditto on the distractions)

(Even I have to admit that I now need a Pynchon break ... I think I'll start the Roddy Doyle's The Barrytown Trilogy now (off to my Monhegan Island again in less than two weeks for my annual two-weeks of solitude and relaxation and rejuvenation)).

Anyhow, I'll try to give my impressions of the book in a few days after it percolates through my system for a bit. Off the top of my head, though, I think it's really, really good.

Some of the reviews (in another thread here it was called it "shit") make me wonder if the readers actually read the whole book. Even the "professional reviewers" talk about one-dimensional, cartoonish characters, but that might be only valid for the first few hundred pages. Once the various threads start come together, things start to brew like a good pot of coffee.

For example, the (very) strange ménage à trois of Yasheem, Reef and Cyprian was incredibly touching as it developed from three completely different ("orthogonal" would probably be a word that Pynchon might use here) Walks of Life into one blended and complementary triad (x, y, and i (i.e., the square root of minus one)). Well, for me at least, Pynchon's writing brought clarity, understanding and deep empathy for these (and other) characters to the point that I was really rooting for all three (even when they sort of split up somewhere in the Balkans).

Typically for Pynchon, other threads and characters were left up to you to decide what eventually happened to them (such as the Great Revenge Plot against Deuce Kindred (and Lake) (ah, but maybe Life was the Ultimate Revenge here, huh?)).

Still, though, off the top of my Margarita-soaked brain, I felt that Against the Day was a really good yarn that had many, many brilliant exposés on today's political "situation."

The ending was one full of hope for that Day when we can all live in Grace with one another, as individuals and as a World.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

(or as Pynchon ended the novel:)

"Never sleeping, clamorous as a nonstop feast day, Inconvience, (Doug's note here: the now greatly-evolved spaceship/society) once a vehicle of sky-pilgrimage, has transformed into its own destination, where any wish that can be made is at least addressed, if not always granted. For every wish to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and uncompensated would have to be evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us. No one aboard Inconvience has yet observed any sign of this. They know - Miles is certain - that it is there, like an approaching rainstorm, but invisible. Soon they will see the pressure-gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on smoked goggles for the glory of what is coming to part the sky. They fly to grace."

(Doug note here: and may it be so, where we all, too, reach a time/place of mutual respect and kindness!)

61A_musing
Sep 23, 2007, 11:26am

I have not finished it - got about 2/3 of the way through and then distracted, and it's a hard book to come back to. But, I need to find a time to come back to it, and devote a good weekend to finishing the thing. Much enjoyed it, and was starting to see the "coming together" you described.

62marietherese
Sep 26, 2007, 10:54pm

Message #60: "Once the various threads start come together, things start to brew like a good pot of coffee."

I haven't even started ATD yet, but just to have to say that the above quotation is a great way to describe character development and the inter-relationship of characters in most of Pynchon's novels.

I have to remember it so I can purloin it and use it myself in future ;-)

63A_musing
Sep 27, 2007, 9:38am

I don't know. It only takes a few minutes to brew coffee.

Are you sure this isn't more like making wine?

64doogiewray
Sep 27, 2007, 10:48pm

Ah, but I still use an old percolator, first bringing the water to a furious boil before I drop the coffee basket over the now-spouting-scalding-water-like-a-pissed-off-volcano spindle so that only boiling water hits the coffee grounds (sort of like cooking lobster) ... a-and then, after that, I watch it very carefully and adjusting the flame so that the brewed coffee, itself, never boils again ... I used to be, among other things, a Safety Officer, so, kids, don't try this at home yourself (most folks go screaming from the room when I make coffee, but they seem to appreciate it when it's finally served).

On the other hand, it's also like making wine ... it's all relative, after all.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

65marietherese
Sep 28, 2007, 1:26am

Douglas, your coffee making sounds like an adventure! Rather like a Pynchon novel, after all ;-)

66doogiewray
Sep 28, 2007, 12:21pm

Marie Therese -

Add just a dash of rose water and it's called "Quinquin."

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

67marietherese
Sep 28, 2007, 3:59pm

;-)

68RodneyWelch
Oct 2, 2007, 10:06pm

Against the Day is a most peculiar and memorable novel, even if the characters are flat and one-dimensional. Maybe that was part of the whole design; maybe it's the book itself that is a character, much in the same way that certain inanimate objects in the book seem more three-dimensional than the people; Iceland spar is probably the liveliest and single most interesting thing in the book. This is a book I read twice, taking copious notes all along the way on every single thing that happened -- every thing I could understand anyway -- and now the memory of the book pops up in my head like a little bouncing magic ball.

69doogiewray
Oct 3, 2007, 10:41am

Sir Rodney!

I bow down to you (really)!

In the course of my above-mentioned Pynchon Marathon, upon finishing each novel, I've wanted to just turn back to page one and start right in again. Finishing Against the Day, I felt the same urge, but, alas, at my age the energy level just isn't there and the "to read" pile is at least equal to the Lorelei in calling me away to other dreams.

Also, my Pynchon books have copious notes in the margins, but, alas, many of them are "Now who in hell was this character, again?!"

I belong to a rather large group (well, it's a Unitarian congregation) that believe that a poem should be read out loud twice in a row, and, during a morning service, we do just that. It's amazing how one's brain, during the first reading, is chattering away with "Oh, that sounds like a decent poem, but, you know, I wonder if I turned off my coffee pot before I left," while during the second reading, a hush falls over the whole crowd and all (well, most) of their brains, too, and, only then, do we all finally hear the poem.

I've always felt that, in the Ideal Universe, we'd do the same thing with novels.

My hat's off to you ... you've brought a smile to my face, knowing that someone has done this with Pynchon.

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

70RodneyWelch
Oct 3, 2007, 8:05pm

Well thanks awfully, Douglas. The thing was, somewhere in the first reading -- somewhere while Cyrian and Yashmeen and Reef were running all over the Balkans -- I lost the thread of the story. This is hardly an uncommon experience with Pynchon, of course, and if you read "Gravity's Rainbow" you'll find he does it very often. But there was something about "Against the Day" that just gnawed at me, intrigued me, some overlapping design, which ultimately seemed to me to be about people trying to get out of time, pout of three-dimensional reality and thus out of the path to destruction -- which the 20th Century seemed to guarantee, as capitalism and exploitation would only increase, the chasm between rich and poor widens. The future belongs to the Scarsdale Vibes of the world, in other words, and just killing one isn't going to change anything.

Pynchon plays a multi-level game with this theme, as people use everything to try to get out of reality, and the author himself seems to be in on it, as the Chums of Chance are these "fictional" characters who have invaded Pynchon's novel, and they themselves find that their bodies have been inhabited by beings from the future who are trying to warn everyone else of the world to come.

The book gives you too much to think about; you find yourself hit by tsunamis of prose with too many building clauses to process -- like some speech in a Shakespeare play.

I know what you mean about the characters and having to keep track of them. It's a rare reader who won't occasionally say "Okay, now which one is Wolfe Tone O'Rooney?"

71bardsfingertips
Mar 20, 2008, 3:08pm

72doogiewray
Mar 21, 2008, 8:04am

From which novel was that line, anyhow (I can't remember this morning). Anyhow, that's great! I think he'd like the Einstein wristwatch, too (I think I'll buy the shirt and the watch for myself).

Douglas

"In the end, only kindness matters."

73bardsfingertips
Mar 21, 2008, 11:36am

I do not think the line is from any particular work, but he does use entropy often as a plot device many times. Especially in Lot 49 with the Maxwell's Daemon machine.