Freewheeling Andy

Pynchon, then?

19 posts in this topic

Anyone for Pynchon?

 

Any comments? I've just finished Vineland which was really, really enjoyable to read, but also fairly difficult. And somehow not fully satisfying.

 

Mason & Dixon, which I read a few years ago I thought was harder to read, and much more satisfying.

 

It's all very consciously clever, and I guess that could really wind people up, but there's so much substance to it, too.

 

It seems to play around, in both those books, in some hinterland on the edge of reality, but it's not fantasy or SF, and it's not really magical realism.

 

Vineland had a lot of a feel of Japanese fiction about it, but was all set in post-hippy California.

 

I'm interested to know what other people think.

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I've never read anything by him. I nearly bought Mason & Dixon when it came out. I don't mind a 300 page difficult but worthy book, but 800+ pages for me would be wasted effort. If I want difficult, I'll pick up Leibniz, although I haven't since I was 20 and doubt I ever will again. I don't want intentionally "hard" fiction. I want well written, intelligent & if possible a reasonable plot.

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The thing is that I find it well written and intelligent, and worth the effort. It's hard, but it needs to be hard.

 

Although, perhaps I made Vineland harder than it should have been because I've been exhausted when trying to read it.

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I have tried Gravitys Rainbow and The Crying Of Lot 49 without much luck. (And at about 100 pages on the latter I must be really unlucky.) The book that won the recent Independent fiction prize thingy was compared to Thomas Pynchon. Belgian guy called Paul Verhaeghen. I saw the book - Omega Minor - in the shops. It's massive. No wonder it was compared to Pynchon.

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I fear it's a bit like a modern version of having "read Joyce". It's hard work, and you almost feel embarassed to be reading it on the tube, because they'll think "Christ! What a pretentious you-know-what", but fundamentally it's actually very good.

 

(Well, I never managed with Joyce beyond Dubliners, but I assume that he's actually good).

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you almost feel embarassed to be reading it on the tube, because they'll think "Christ! What a pretentious you-know-what"
If youve seen some of the stuff I have read on the train before I would just stare straight back at them with unblinking eyes. But notions of pretentiousness would be their problem/prejudice, not mine.

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I'm reading my first Pynchon at the moment - Bleeding Edge - and I'm struggling a little bit with his writing style. It doesn't flow, and is almost too casual and conversational so I find myself having to re-read sentences. I'm only in the early stages (just finished the first chapter), so maybe it takes a while to get into the flow and rhythm of things. :dunno:

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Oh dear :unsure: I hope you will pull through and will feel rewarded at the end! 

 

I've not read any of Pynchon's books. The Crying of Lot 49 was featured in one of our English lit classes, but it was more like the professor had printed out an excerpt and the whole book was not on the syllabus. Which I think I'm happy about... :blush: I do own a copy of the book and intend to tackle it some day! 

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Yeah, from what I gather he has a very unique writing style, with a lot of pop-culture and current references, and almost sentences within sentences. He's quite multilayered apparently but not for everyone. I shall persevere...I'm hoping if I stick with it, it will just click into place.

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I gave Gravity's Rainbow a shot,but about fifty pages

in, it just defeated me. Millions rate the book so it must

have been a problem I had, no complaint;just did not

'get on' with it.

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I've given up on Bleeding Edge. I just don't get his writing style...it's too disjointed and I struggle to understand what he is saying.

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Has anyone read Gravity's Rainbow? I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts. It has received a lot of very positive reviews but I'm wondering whether it is worth it - and also whether it lives up to its reputation of being ridiculously difficult. I want to give it a go, but am put off by its reputation.

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Has anyone read Gravity's Rainbow? I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts. It has received a lot of very positive reviews but I'm wondering whether it is worth it - and also whether it lives up to its reputation of being ridiculously difficult. I want to give it a go, but am put off by its reputation.

It's incredibly difficult. People will have differing opinions about this to be sure, but Infinite Jest is far more approachable, imo. Infinite Jest is really long more than it's anything else. Gravity's Rainbow is on a whole different level. Pynchon is much, much smarter than you are, much smarter than David Foster Wallace is, and he hates every single one of us for not being on his level. Don't know if the hate part is true, but that's definitely how it feels. Be ready for it. How worth it it is depends on what you're looking for. How much do you want a piece of that post-modern pie, and how hard are you willing to work for it? Personally I'd say pick up Infinite Jest or House of Leaves for your post-modern fix if you haven't read them already. You'll know when you're ready to tackle Gravity's Rainbow. The fact that you're asking means you're not ready, lol. 

Edited by davidh219

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Oh dear :unsure: I hope you will pull through and will feel rewarded at the end! 

 

I've not read any of Pynchon's books. The Crying of Lot 49 was featured in one of our English lit classes, but it was more like the professor had printed out an excerpt and the whole book was not on the syllabus. Which I think I'm happy about... :blush: I do own a copy of the book and intend to tackle it some day! 

 

I've tried reading it a couple of times, and finally decided it was idiotic mush, not fit for the cows.  I've tried a couple others of his, with much the same reaction. 

 

I suspect that Pynchon is laughing all the way to the bank at all the silly nits that think his books are so bloody marvelous and deep.  Oy.  Bathroom humor, and not interesting bathroom humor, at that.  :roll:

Edited by pontalba

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I've tried reading it a couple of times, and finally decided it was idiotic mush, not fit for the cows.  I've tried a couple others of his, with much the same reaction. 

 

I suspect that Pynchon is laughing all the way to the bank at all the silly nits that think his books are so bloody marvelous and deep.  Oy.  Bathroom humor, and not interesting bathroom humor, at that.  :roll:

 

Oh wow :D Oddly enough, that ^ has made me somewhat more curious and interested in reading the book... :D 

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Oh wow :D Oddly enough, that ^ has made me somewhat more curious and interested in reading the book... :D

 

I thought that til I read the synopsis, and nah.

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Oh wow :D Oddly enough, that ^ has made me somewhat more curious and interested in reading the book... :D

 

ROTFALOLTIC!   Not odd, human nature. :D

 

I thought that til I read the synopsis, and nah.

 

Yeah, it has that effect.......:D

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I have just started reading The Crying Lot of 49 with an aim to finish it (if possible).

 

I agree that his writing is.. odd. Which I don't mind, it's just that there doesn't seem to be a reason for it (or, the more plausible explanation, I'm just not getting it).

 

What makes Pynchon so famous?

 

Also, does anyone have any 'tips' to read his works? Reading some of his sentences makes me feel like I'm swimming in a pool of mushy peas.

Edited by Angury

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Also, does anyone have any 'tips' to read his works? Reading some of his sentences makes me feel like I'm swimming in a pool of mushy peas.

 

That's a great description. :D  Unfortunately I can't offer any advice, having only attempted one of his books (Bleeding Edge) and giving up due to his writing style.

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