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Thread: Thomas Pynchon

  1. #16
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    acid helped a lot of artists reach a new level, wouldnt be suprised if that includes pychon. how much acid have you taken?

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangpuss View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangpuss View Post
    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, , though despite or because of what an asshole Dylan is, I'm never really sure.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Bangpuss; 03-03-2013 at 08:19 PM.

  5. #20
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    "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?

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangpuss View Post
    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

  7. #22
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    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.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    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.

  9. #24
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    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?!:


  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by empty mirror View Post
    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?

  11. #26
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    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!
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  12. #27
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    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.

  13. #28
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    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.
    Last edited by Slothrop; 15-03-2013 at 04:54 PM.

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    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.

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  16. #30
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    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. :/

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