PDA

View Full Version : Thomas Pynchon



bandshell
25-02-2013, 04:11 PM
I had a look through the forum to see if there was some sort of Pynchon thread where I could post this but I couldn't find one. I've seen a few other people talking about him on here so it's probably not a bad idea to have a Pynchon thread.

Anyway...


Thomas Pynchon's new novel BLEEDING EDGE will be published on September 17, deals with Silicon Alley between dotcom boom collapse and 9/11.

https://twitter.com/sarahw/status/306036683562971136

Bangpuss
26-02-2013, 10:10 PM
Wow, that sounds freakin' awesome. Thanks for starting this thread. I still need to finish Gravity's Rainbow. To be honest, I don't think I was paying careful enough attention last time. When the seances started, I kind of lost my way.

Anyway, if we're allowed to use this thread to discuss not just Pynchon, but also the Pynchonesque, I've just bought this novel that's the latest Pynchonian* novel to come out -- there haven't been many since David Foster Wallace, have there? Anyway, it's called A Naked Singularity, by Sergio De La Pava, and is like a perfect cross between Tom P and Dostoevsky. It's a sprawling, verbose thriller about the US justice system. De La Pava is a New York lawyer and self-published it to begin with, but it got a proper release a year or so ago, after his wife emailed everyone on the Internet who'd written about Infinite Jest and suggested they read her husband's work. Eventually, someone did, and it's become kind of a sleeper hit since then. I've only just started it, and from what I've read, yeah, I can see it working, even if the style seems a little forced.

*What's the correct adjective to describe something similar to or inspired by Thomas Pynchon -- Pynchonesque or Pynchonian? Either could work. I've heard Pynchonesque used more, but I'll usually go to great lengths to avoid using '-esque' as a suffix just because it sounds so wanky and pretentious, like somebody hearing Woody Allen describing sex as Kafkaesque, and then describing things as Kafkaesque, even though they've never read Kafka. '-Esque', for me, will always be associated with those people. So the answer I'm looking for, I guess, is that we're going to stick to calling things Pynchonian after this impassioned plea.

Mr. Tea
26-02-2013, 10:23 PM
^^ Typical Lewisesque thing to say.

Bangpuss
26-02-2013, 10:27 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/Circle_game.jpg/220px-Circle_game.jpg

That's two punches I owe you now.

Mr. Tea
27-02-2013, 10:26 PM
I'm sort of torn over Pynchon. He's got so much talent and so many ideas, waving it all in your face, but...well I'm not sure what the But is, exactly, but there is a But. I might try and collect my thoughts a bit tomorrow. I've only read V. and - of course - Gravity's Rainbow. Which I sometimes hilariously think of to myself as Gravity's Brain-Ow.

I think GR was the weirdest book I'd read until Cyclonopedia, which is saying something.

Edit: and apart from anything else it's just fucking amazing that he's still writing, I mean how old is he now, like 90 or something? His must be one of the longest-running careers of any major novelist alive today.

woops
28-02-2013, 01:41 AM
*What's the correct adjective to describe something similar to or inspired by Thomas Pynchon -- Pynchonesque or Pynchonian? Either could work. I've heard Pynchonesque used more, but I'll usually go to great lengths to avoid using '-esque' as a suffix just because it sounds so wanky and pretentious, like somebody hearing Woody Allen describing sex as Kafkaesque, and then describing things as Kafkaesque, even though they've never read Kafka. '-Esque', for me, will always be associated with those people. So the answer I'm looking for, I guess, is that we're going to stick to calling things Pynchonian after this impassioned plea.

Seems to me there's a distinction to be drawn between the Pynchonian, things that are directly of Pynchon, and the Pynchonesque, which merely resembles the Pynchonian.

You to thread?

Mr. Tea
28-02-2013, 08:14 AM
Pynchonics: a subfield of particle physics concerning the properties of Pynchons.

luka
28-02-2013, 10:07 AM
lesbian ass lickin joanna garcia nude free fart porn model pakistani sexy video blowjobs anleitung the simsons porn sri lanka sexy moldes free chubby sex clips

craner
28-02-2013, 12:27 PM
ballistics

Mr. Tea
28-02-2013, 01:06 PM
ballistics

Yeah, he's so clever he used to be an *actual* rocket scientist! Imagine that.

Slothrop
28-02-2013, 01:42 PM
Yeah, he's so clever he used to be an *actual* rocket scientist! Imagine that.

It does mean that you get a much better range of crap maths jokes than you normally do with literary authors. There's a bit in Mason and Dixon where someone asks a talking dog whether he knows the integral of one over (book) d (book).

What may or may not be really clever is that the other thing the dog gets asked is whether he knows "where the be suck there suck I", a line which has caused amusement to generations of schoolboys because the old fashioned 'long s' is indistinguishable from an 'f'. A-and tne 'long s' is also the symbol that the integral sign is based on. Now wait a minute...

I think all the crap humour and blatant silliness is part of the point, FWIW, although I'd have trouble articulating how. If everything was serious and plausible they'd be much weaker books...

Mr. Tea
28-02-2013, 02:43 PM
Yes, they are fundamentally silly and packed with puns and innuendos and whatnot, and I agree that's all part of the fun. Charges of excess wackiness notwithstanding.

The integral 'joke' is done in a different way in GR, I recall, where there's a sum that goes " d[cabin]/[cabin] = log cabin + C = houseboat". Groanworthy, for sure, but I suspect anyone who gets it will find themselves liking it just because of the fun of being in on a joke that will go over most people's heads.

Edit: he also shows, in [I]V. I think, how 'Kilroy':

http://anarchyisorder.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/kilroy_was_here1.jpg

derives from the schematic for a band-pass filter:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/77/KilroySchematic.svg/410px-KilroySchematic.svg.png

On the more serious side, I think he conjures up sinister conspiracies very well, which always makes for a story that really grips the reader, I find. In fact it introduces an element of genuine psychological horror into otherwise mostly light-hearted novels.

Bangpuss
01-03-2013, 12:17 PM
Besides the first half of the Crying of Lot 49, which is just about as perfect as a piece of fiction could ever be, my favourite Pynchon is the introductory essay to Slow Learner, his collection of early stories published in the 80s (I think). It's very sweet and self-deprecating, and even offers insights not only his young-man personality (he seemed to be a bit of a jock), but also his early influences. While it's perhaps not surprising to learn that the wacky spy elements come from a love of John Buchan's novels, he was also a big fan of the Beats and in particular On The Road. As someone trying to create work that at least pleases me -- something I rarely achieve -- it's heartening to see a master come across as similarly frought with doubt, and not even as a matter of false modesty. Because I can totally see his point, when he levels criticism at those early stories. While there are flashes of brilliance and wild imagination (Meatball Mulligan, for instance), I do find his early work quite a few shades below what he achieved a few years later with the Crying of Lot 49. In short, it gives me hope.

baboon2004
01-03-2013, 01:23 PM
it's heartening to see a master come across as similarly frought with doubt, and not even as a matter of false modesty.

i imagine a lot of authors (and other artists) go through this - Henry James was famous for it, and I suppose David Foster Wallace is an obvious recent example to go with. The overstated praise artists are subject to can presumably be just as unbalancing as the criticism - if you're sitting there reading a review about how you're a 'genius', and you live every day with yourself and don't even understand what that could even mean, then it can easily foster doubt, I'd've thought. You know in your heart of hearts how good you think you really are, in other words, and, unless you're an insane narcissist, you'll be able to see how much room there is for improvement, whtever the critics say.

Bangpuss
01-03-2013, 03:32 PM
Thankfully I've never had to live with the genius tag, nor will I. What I find heartening about Pynchon's early work is also what scares me slightly. He went from merely quite good to frickin amazingly outrageously brilliant in a matter of like two or three years. Of course, studying under Nabokov could have helped. As could the Himalayan mountain range of intelligence he clearly possesses. But there was clearly something that changed inside of him very quickly -- something 'clicked' -- and he went from 'journeyman', as he put it, to visionary titan so quickly, a bit like '61 Bob Dylan to '64 Bob Dylan.

I'd never try to write anything like Pynchon -- in particular, the fact that he tried to consciously remove his fiction from his own experience as much as possible in terms of plot and characters and motivations and so forth. This is why I think he lacks the emotional depth of many of his 'heirs', and therefore why it's often a more brutal read than the equally dense offerings of Wallace and Vollmann, who both possess an equally unattainable level of ability, so it's not even worth comparing yourself to them.

luka
01-03-2013, 04:03 PM
acid helped a lot of artists reach a new level, wouldnt be suprised if that includes pychon. how much acid have you taken?

viktorvaughn
01-03-2013, 04:58 PM
Thankfully I've never had to live with the genius tag, nor will I. What I find heartening about Pynchon's early work is also what scares me slightly. He went from merely quite good to frickin amazingly outrageously brilliant in a matter of like two or three years. Of course, studying under Nabokov could have helped. As could the Himalayan mountain range of intelligence he clearly possesses. But there was clearly something that changed inside of him very quickly -- something 'clicked' -- and he went from 'journeyman', as he put it, to visionary titan so quickly, a bit like '61 Bob Dylan to '64 Bob Dylan.

I'd never try to write anything like Pynchon -- in particular, the fact that he tried to consciously remove his fiction from his own experience as much as possible in terms of plot and characters and motivations and so forth. This is why I think he lacks the emotional depth of many of his 'heirs', and therefore why it's often a more brutal read than the equally dense offerings of Wallace and Vollmann, who both possess an equally unattainable level of ability, so it's not even worth comparing yourself to them.

Can you tell me more about Vollmann? I googled him as you mentioned him here and sounds interesting. The 7 novel cycle on the settling of America sounds pretty epic.

baboon2004
01-03-2013, 05:11 PM
and he went from 'journeyman', as he put it, to visionary titan so quickly, a bit like '61 Bob Dylan to '64 Bob Dylan.


gotta love this clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc6HcA6kEJc , though despite or because of what an asshole Dylan is, I'm never really sure.

Bangpuss
03-03-2013, 08:57 PM
acid helped a lot of artists reach a new level, wouldnt be suprised if that includes pychon. how much acid have you taken?

Plenty.


Can you tell me more about Vollmann? I googled him as you mentioned him here and sounds interesting. The 7 novel cycle on the settling of America sounds pretty epic.

He's a madly prolific California author who writes dense, yet very personal and moving accounts of his time usually with prostitutes, drug dealers and various down-on-their-luck people all over the world. The Atlas is structured like a Pallindrome, in that the first story reflects a theme or a location of the last story, and so forth, while the middle story, 'The Atlas', brings together everything in a kaleidoscope of memory and experience while on a train in Canada. His stories are incredibly sincere, yet often astoundingly rendered (hence the Pynchon comparison), with the whole thing often being a thing of tremendous scope (i.e. the seven novel cycle you mention but which I haven't read, or the pallindrome, or his 2,000 word treatise on violence, Rising Up and Rising Down). The titles of his stories are things like The Best Way To Smoke Crack, and The Best Way To Shoot H. Those particular ones are about drug-addicted hookers in San Francisco. He writes a lot about hookers from an incredibly humane perspective, having actually slept with a lot of them and done drugs with them, although I'm never quite sure if he's doing it mostly to write about (which I sometimes suspect) or if he'd do it anyway, even if he wasn't gonna write about them. He also paints watercolours of them apparently, cause that way he gets to ask them questions without them getting suspicious, although I have no idea if these are any good.

He's travelled all over the world and his journeys are what a lot of his writing is about. I'd recommend The Atlas to anyone. But if you want a flavour of all his work, I'd suggest the Vollmann Reader which my friend has, and is an anthology comprising snippets of a lot of stuff. Probably best to get that cause there's no way you'll get through close to all he's written.

Another great story about Vollmann is about how he wrote his first book, Afghanistan Picture Show. He saved up his money and went off fighting with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the eightes while still in his early to mid twenties. The guy is one of my heroes.

He's also a hilariously ungainly sight, which makes me love him even more. A man who looks like he must really have something to be able to sleep with so many women. Hence probably why he pays for it.

IdleRich
03-03-2013, 09:25 PM
"He's a madly prolific California author who writes dense, yet very personal and moving accounts of his time usually with prostitutes, drug dealers and various down-on-their-luck people all over the world. The Atlas is structured like a Pallindrome, in that the first story reflects a theme or a location of the last story, and so forth, while the middle story, 'The Atlas', brings together everything in a kaleidoscope of memory and experience while on a train in Canada."
So is Cloud Atlas (same structure) some kind of homage to that?

viktorvaughn
04-03-2013, 09:45 AM
Plenty.



He's a madly prolific California author who writes dense, yet very personal and moving accounts of his time usually with prostitutes, drug dealers and various down-on-their-luck people all over the world. The Atlas is structured like a Pallindrome, in that the first story reflects a theme or a location of the last story, and so forth, while the middle story, 'The Atlas', brings together everything in a kaleidoscope of memory and experience while on a train in Canada. His stories are incredibly sincere, yet often astoundingly rendered (hence the Pynchon comparison), with the whole thing often being a thing of tremendous scope (i.e. the seven novel cycle you mention but which I haven't read, or the pallindrome, or his 2,000 word treatise on violence, Rising Up and Rising Down). The titles of his stories are things like The Best Way To Smoke Crack, and The Best Way To Shoot H. Those particular ones are about drug-addicted hookers in San Francisco. He writes a lot about hookers from an incredibly humane perspective, having actually slept with a lot of them and done drugs with them, although I'm never quite sure if he's doing it mostly to write about (which I sometimes suspect) or if he'd do it anyway, even if he wasn't gonna write about them. He also paints watercolours of them apparently, cause that way he gets to ask them questions without them getting suspicious, although I have no idea if these are any good.

He's travelled all over the world and his journeys are what a lot of his writing is about. I'd recommend The Atlas to anyone. But if you want a flavour of all his work, I'd suggest the Vollmann Reader which my friend has, and is an anthology comprising snippets of a lot of stuff. Probably best to get that cause there's no way you'll get through close to all he's written.

Another great story about Vollmann is about how he wrote his first book, Afghanistan Picture Show. He saved up his money and went off fighting with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the eightes while still in his early to mid twenties. The guy is one of my heroes.

He's also a hilariously ungainly sight, which makes me love him even more. A man who looks like he must really have something to be able to sleep with so many women. Hence probably why he pays for it.

Thanks for taking the time to write that. Sounds very interesting! I ordered The Atlas from Amazon forgetting my card has been cancelled, so will get that when I get a new one from the bank in a fortnight...

Sounds right up my street so thought i'd go straight in with the Atlas rather than the reader one.

Cheers

HMGovt
04-03-2013, 12:23 PM
I've long been a Vollmann fan, having read You Bright & Risen Angels first. There's a passage about a ship navigating up a jungle river that is one of my favourite anywhere. Yet to read the Atlas - whenever I visit a book shop, I head straight to V in the hope it's there. Should take the plunge on Amazon.

Europe Central is extraordinary really, how he gets inside the head of an SS officer responsible for sourcing Zyklon B and saving a few thousand lives here and there by adulterating, but not enough to blow his cover...

Rising up and rising down is available as a 7-volume box set and a single volume abridged version. Saving that for my retirement in case i get too cheerful.

Bangpuss
04-03-2013, 09:55 PM
So is Cloud Atlas (same structure) some kind of homage to that?

No. Cloud Atlas is a kernel of Weetabix on my breakfast table compared with Vollmann's heavenly feast. There is no way the two could possibly be connected. I refuse to accept that anyone who has ever read Vollmann could ever produce such drivel.


Thanks for taking the time to write that. Sounds very interesting! I ordered The Atlas from Amazon forgetting my card has been cancelled, so will get that when I get a new one from the bank in a fortnight...

Sounds right up my street so thought i'd go straight in with the Atlas rather than the reader one.

Cheers

No problem, I'm sure you'll love it. Or, any one of the ones HMGovt recommends, none of which I've actually read.


I've long been a Vollmann fan, having read You Bright & Risen Angels first. There's a passage about a ship navigating up a jungle river that is one of my favourite anywhere. Yet to read the Atlas - whenever I visit a book shop, I head straight to V in the hope it's there. Should take the plunge on Amazon.

Do it, I can't believe you'll be disappointed, unlike this dude, who titles a blogpost 'Overrated Writers, Part Three: William T. Vollmann'. Jerk. http://www.litkicks.com/OverratedVollmann#.UTUXyTBdCSo

Maybe after Gravity's Rainbow (or before!) I'll get round to Europe Central or some more Vollmann, but after this and the Rainbow Stories (a similar thing in which he does less travelling but meets a lot of fucked up people, including HIV patients and neo-Nazis), I think I'm Bill T. V'd out!

Although that Zyklon B story does sound fucking sublime, so maybe I'll check that out.

empty mirror
06-03-2013, 11:35 AM
i've only read some pynchon, GR, Inherent Vice, and V. but he's got a monument in my psychic landscape

vollman is amazing, i've only read Ice Shirt. that has more in common with something like Cyclonopedia than vollman. mixing journals and fiction and myth.

as far as pynchonesque authors, neal stephenson comes to mind. particularly Cryptonomicon.

also, no one has posted this yet?!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR0588DtHJA

Slothrop
06-03-2013, 06:41 PM
as far as pynchonesque authors, neal stephenson comes to mind. particularly Cryptonomicon.

Really?

It's Pynchonesque to the extent that Cadfael is Eco-esque, I guess?

Mr. Tea
06-03-2013, 08:24 PM
I wouldn't have said Stephenson was Pynchonesque either. Big, complicated, sprawling stories with nerdy jokes and smutty bits, sure - but Stephenson has nothing like Pynchon's proclivity towards, well magic realism isn't quite it, let's say a healthy disregard for normal standards of reality. Although maybe most of Pynchon's other books are less out-there in this regard than the ones I've read, I dunno. This thread has made me want to read more Pynchon!

empty mirror
08-03-2013, 12:21 PM
eh, i guess with Cryptonomicon all the science and goofiness tied to WWII reminded me of V. and GR quite a lot. and all the far out names in Snowcrash brings to mind Pynchon's use of odd monikers.

Slothrop
15-03-2013, 05:51 PM
I was a bit underwhelmed by Vineland - it's probably my least favourite of his that I've read (to date, all the full length stuff bar AtD).

It's still got some really good bits, obviously, but while its central concern seems to be wondering how the authentic revolutionary moment of 60's counterculture was prevented from permenantly transforming American society for the better, it never really stops to question whether it was actually an authentic revolutionary moment at all.

The Marquis de Sod is brilliant, though. As is the Italian wedding scene.

jenks
15-03-2013, 05:57 PM
Apropos of nothing I am pretty certain that as well as inventing the seed drill - Jethro Tull believed that whipping the ground would make crops grow.

CrowleyHead
20-03-2013, 04:35 PM
Gravity's Rainbow is the most intimidating thing in the world. Only made worse by the fact that in arrogance, I know I have to be smarter than The Klaxons, and they apparently turned it over with no issues. :/

IdleRich
20-03-2013, 10:23 PM
They might be quite smart. There isn't always a link between musical ability and smartness.

IdleRich
20-03-2013, 10:23 PM
That maybe should have read "ever" rather than always.

Bangpuss
05-04-2013, 10:59 AM
If anyone's interested in an American lit professor's account, written in a kind of Pynchonian parody style, of randomly bumping into Thomas Pynchon and having conversations with him, this is probably what you're looking for: http://www.pynchon.pomona.edu/bio/adventures.html

The dude comes across as totally starstruck and sycophantic, but who wouldn't be in that situation? It's probably greatly exaggerated too, but who cares? It's fun.

mistersloane
30-09-2014, 04:34 PM
They might be quite smart. There isn't always a link between musical ability and smartness.

Yeah I've got friends who know them who say they're very bright boys.

Slothrop
30-09-2014, 10:30 PM
Somewhat apprehensive about this but PTA's probably one of the few directors working today capable of pulling it off.

Supposedly there's a cameo from the man himself in there too.

Really hoping they've actually done versions of all the songs from the book - Soul Gidget by Meatball Flag ("one of the few known attempts at black surf music") would be worth the price of admission alone.

Slothrop
30-09-2014, 10:33 PM
Gravity's Rainbow is the most intimidating thing in the world.

If you can tune into the sense of humour then it's actually quite a fun read...

Mr. Tea
01-10-2014, 08:36 AM
If you can tune into the sense of humour then it's actually quite a fun read...

Says "Slothrop"! Shouldn't you be off eating marmite-filled humbugs somewhere?