Showing 1 to 14 of 14
1. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 18:51 BST
New Thomas Pynchon novel Tuesday! Definitely a shock to get one so soon after Against the Day. Any fans out there planning to pick it up?
It's a short(-ish) one this time, seeming to somewhat share a setting with Vineland, and a time-period with The Crying of Lot 49. Should be pretty great; fingers crossed.
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2. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 19:34 BST
Hmm, I still haven't gotten around to resuming / finishing Against the Day; as I think I might have mentioned when Pynchon came up in another thread (the sex thread?... gender, I mean), I read the first book (division, whatever he calls them here) about 6 months ago, and put it aside after that for later, but haven't gotten around to it. The enormous barrier is that I'm terrible with names in all parts of life, including novels, and every time I'm tempted to go back to it, I realize it would take me couple hours of flipping through the first book again before I'd be able to remember which character was which--as usual in Pynchon, there are just too damn many characters.
However, I'll try to force myself to get back to it soon, because I am enticed a bit by the prospect of a new, shorter Pynchon novel. Maybe I'll be able to keep track of the characters for once (er, twice--that wasn't a problem in Crying).
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3. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 20:20 BST
Check out Vineland, if you haven't, Wario my man. There are a lot of characters in that, too, but it's a short book, and, like Crying, the "minor" characters only really have "immediate" importance. If you forget them later on you'll miss out on certain layers of the story, but you won't realize you're missing them, and so you won't be lost.
I find that the longer Pynchon books (Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day) improve with every read, and that's not least because you'll have all the information you gleaned from your previous reading available for your next. The massive assortment of minor characters seems to grow smaller every time because you remember them, and it's not a struggle to keep it straight.
I do recommend finishing Against the Day at some point, as it has loads of Pynchon's most satisfying plot threads woven through it, even if, as a whole, it doesn't quite hold up.
Inherent Vice seems to want to channel Vineland more than anything else, but the time-period and wealthy-land-developer-related-intrigue call Lot 49 to mind just as vividly...
I'm excited for it. He's my favorite author, but I tend to forget just HOW good he is until I sit down and re-read him again.
4. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 20:42 BST
I haven't read anything by Pynchon. Let me know if you think this would be a good place to start (that is, if you remember this post after reading the book). As sad as it is to say this, I'm sort of running out of books at the moment. I have three to read after my current one (plus one coming out this year that I'm looking forward to), and not sure where to go from there. This is coming from someone who a year or two ago had stacks of books unread.
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5. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 23:22 BST
Lot 49 is often tossed around as being Pynchon's most accessible novel for a newcomer, but I definitely feel that Vineland nudges it out. I've seen too many newcomers get turned off by Lot 49 because they find it "pretentious," and aren't often willing to give it the chance to prove that it might have actually earned that pretension.
It's a great book, and one worth reading many times over, but the accessibility of Vineland is the closest thing a new reader will ever get to experiencing Pynchon from anywhere other than the bottom of the deep end. It takes place in the mid-80s, and is chock full of cultural touchstones that you'll have lived through and probably remember quite well, never venturing much further back than the early 1960s. To put it lightly, it doesn't expect nearly as much knowledge of obscure nodes of world history as his other novels do.
So, yeah. I'd nominate Vineland, but if you keep an open mind, I wouldn't turn you away from Lot 49 either.
Let's see if anything changes with the release of Inherent Vice.
Edited on Sun 2nd August, 2009 @ 23:22 by Philip_J_Reed
6. Posted: Sun 2nd Aug 2009 23:30 BST
Thanks, I'll pick up Vineland as soon as I'm done the books I'm reading now unless Inherent Vice is out by then.
I need to find more living authors I like so I can have books to look forward to. I mostly like fairly recent stuff, but unfortunately most of the authors I like either don't write often or died some time during my life time.
7. Posted: Mon 3rd Aug 2009 00:01 BST
Yeah, I know the feeling. Have you read White Noise by Don DeLillo? Don't worry, it's not related at all to that crappy thriller movie by the same name from a few years back.
I read it on a whim and really loved it. I've since read a few of DeLillo's other works, and they were good, but not nearly as cohesive, leading me to believe that White Noise might have been a glorious fluke.
I also read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen pretty recently, and was blown away by how truly excellent it was. I think I expected to think, "Oh, alright, fine, it's a decent book, but it's not THAT good," which is pretty much where I stand with anything by Michael Chabon.
Nearly all of my favorite authors are long dead (or, in the case of Vonnegut, recently dead), so it's definitely nice to come across one who's still alive, putting pen to paper, keeping the art alive.
8. Posted: Mon 3rd Aug 2009 00:23 BST
I haven't read White Noise, but I did read Falling Man, which I enjoyed to an extent. The back cover description made it sound very surreal, but the reality was a somewhat dry book with a lot of odd non-sequitur dialog... which was amusing for awhile, to be sure, but not what I expected. I also have Underworld, which I've read is supposed to be his best, but I'm not the fastest reader. I unfortunately don't have time to read something the size of two Bibles and probably even more confusing. I'm keeping that to the bottom of my To Read stack until I've got nothing else. I'll have to give White Noise a chance, though.
Never heard of The Corrections, somehow, but sounds good. I'll add it to my quickly growing To Read list, thanks!
Edited on Mon 3rd August, 2009 @ 00:25 by Adam
9. Posted: Mon 3rd Aug 2009 01:10 BST
I've read Underworld. It's one of those books that spends a thousand pages saying what it could have said in 700, or some similar discrepancy, and it's the poorer for it, in my opinion. I liked everything he was doing, but I didn't think spending so much time doing it did him any favors. If that makes sense.
Not a bad book, but it says a lot when something tiny and unassuming like White Noise leaves a bigger impact on me than something I'd have to cart home in a wheel barrow.
If you do get around to reading it I'll be interested in your opinion. Again, it's not bad, I just think he should have swallowed a few hundred pages and left us with the rest.
10. Posted: Mon 3rd Aug 2009 01:15 BST
I have little patience for that kind of writing. I ordered it online not knowing its beastly size. If I had seen it in a store, I never would have bought it. I doubt I'll get around to it any time soon and will likely have moved on from this forum by then, but should the unlikely occur and I do read it in the near future, I'll be sure to get back to you.
Due to my embarrassingly slow reading pace and how easily I am distracted by video games and other things, I rarely finish a book more than 500 pages unless I'm already a fan of the particular author. Maybe after I read White Noise that'll change, but I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch. I'm sure you know what I mean (no offense).
11. Posted: Tue 4th Aug 2009 12:21 BST
Out today! Awesome review here:http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/08/03/090803...
It sounds phenomenal, and also confirms (whether the reviewer knows it or not) the appearance of a few Vineland characters.
Rumors also abound (not mentioned in the review, but interesting nonetheless) that this is the first book for which Pynchon is allowing movie rights to be sold. Part of (a big, big part) refuses to believe such a thing, but another part is damned curious to see how well a talented filmmaker could pull of Pynchon on the big screen. We'll see...
12. Posted: Tue 4th Aug 2009 12:39 BST
Inherent Vice? Dude, is that the new GTA game?
...but in all seriousness, that review looks promising, although I'm still a bit bothered by this:
A list of characters’ names, drastically abridged, might be enough to suggest the variety, and also the relative fineness, of the narrative texture: Ensenada Slim, Flaco the Bad, Dr. Buddy Tubeside, Petunia Leeway, Jason Velveeta, Scott Oof, Sledge Poteet, Leonard Jermaine Loosemeat (a.k.a. El Drano, anagram of Leonard), Delwyn Quight, and Trillium Fortnight.
Dang his perpetual stream of nonsensical names! Sure, I love puns and wordplay, but as I said before, it just ends up making it impossible for me to keep track of everyone. I'll come back to one of his books after breaking from it for a few days to read something nonfiction, then immediately I'm back to the old game of "now, which absurd character is Poultry Tuburs??"
I guess you just have to be dedicated and read his books straight through, but in books, as in games, I'm always switching back and forth, for better or worse.
13. Posted: Tue 4th Aug 2009 13:35 BST
If it's like Lot 49 or Vineland (and it SEEMS to be, but I'll confirm that later on), most of those characters will just turn up for a big set-piece and then disappear. Later references won't be as crucial, at least in terms of basic understanding. But I understand your fear; V., Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon and Against the Day are all mammoth books that will sometimes expect you to remember somebody who was named (or not named) several hundred pages ago.
And I remember that frustration well. Eventually it clicked with me (not a pleasant click at the time) that Pynchon was an author that had to be re-read, as opposed to read. The first time through, you're just getting your bearings. The second time you know what to expect, what happens when, so you can concentrate on all the other important stuff you couldn't keep straight the first time. The third time, and beyond, you're a part of that world yourself, and you have the luxury of exploration.
I do get the feeling though that this will be a notably easier read than he's known for...and I'll try to give you an idea what to expect, at least, from that handsome, dashing Poultry Tuburs.
14. Posted: Tue 11th Aug 2009 02:32 BST
Finished it tonight. Would have been done much sooner but for some surgery and a particularly difficult recovery period (not, strictly speaking, over).
There are a few things I can say comfortably: it's Pynchon's funniest book yet, by a landslide, and also his most-accessible. You follow one character and one story from the first page to the last...and that hasn't happened in Pynchon since...well, ever. There are indeed a host of absurd, quirky individuals to meet, but you're not really expected to pay any more attention to them than you are in any other work of detective fiction. Along with the gumshoe (gumsandal, in this case) you'll be evaluating everybody as potential ally, obstacle or suspect, and--shockingly--the rules of the genre apply here as well.
And that's what it is...genre. It's actually a work of detective fiction. Not like The Crying of Lot 49, which masqueraded as a work of detective fiction for about a hundred pages before derailing entirely and leaving stranded everybody who wasn't able to think outside of genre constraints they've accustomed themselves to. This is ACTUALLY just a work of detective fiction. Is it one of the better ones? I don't know, because I don't read detective fiction. But it's a very good book in its own right, and I don't think any die-hard detective-heads would have a reason to turn up their noses here.
I thought it was great. It's pretty much impossible to measure it against his other works because "his other works" all have a lot in common that Inherent Vice just doesn't share. Its aspirations--like the aspirations of its main character--are much more grounded and realistic.
It's the best place for a Pynchon newcomer to begin, if all he/she is concerned about is understanding and enjoying the story. But if this hypothetical newbie is actually looking for a point of entry into Pynchon's greater catalogue, this is not going to do much to prepare them. I'd recommend Vineland or Lot 49 first, or, at the very least, very soon after.