Thomas Pynchon

viktorvaughn

Well-known member
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
 

143 I.Q. Magical Thinker

Bamber Clatscoigne
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

Well-known member
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

remember the jackalope
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
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
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

remember the jackalope
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

Tight but Polite
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.
 
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jenks

thread death
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

Well-known member
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. :/
 

Bangpuss

Well-known member
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.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
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.
 

luka

Well-known member
Yeah I'm a little over 200 pages in, a long way from tje kirghiz light but I'll get there
 
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