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Current Topic: Literature

Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon - Books - Review - New York Times
Topic: Literature 5:31 pm EST, Nov 25, 2006

IN “Against the Day,” his sixth, his funniest and arguably his most accessible novel, Thomas Pynchon doles out plenty of vertigo, just as he has for more than 40 years. But this time his fevered reveries and brilliant streams of words, his fantastical plots and encrypted references, are bound together by a clear message that others can unscramble without mental meltdown. Its import emerges only gradually, camouflaged by the sprawling absurdist jumble of themes that can only be described as Pynchonesque, over the only time frame Pynchon recognizes as real: the hours (that stretch into days) it takes to relay one of his sweeping narratives, hours that do “not so much elapse as grow less relevant.”

My copy came in the mail yesterday.

Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon - Books - Review - New York Times Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated: One Picture for Every Page: Books: Zak Smith,Steve Erickson
Topic: Literature 2:03 pm EST, Nov 12, 2006

Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), set in an alternative-universe version of World War II, has been called a modern Finnegan’s Wake for its challenging language, wild anachronisms, hallucinatory happenings, and fever-dream imagery. With Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated, artist Zak Smith at once eases and expands readers’ experience of the book. A leading exponent of punk-based, DIY art, Smith here presents his most ambitious project to date — an art book exactly as long as the work it’s interpreting: 760 drawings, paintings, photos, and less definable images in 760 pages. Extraordinary tableaux of the detritus of war — a burned-out Königstiger tank, a melted machine gun — coexist alongside such phantasmagoric Pynchon inventions as the “stumbling bird” and “Girgori the octopus.” Smith has stated his aim to be “as literal as possible” in interpreting Gravity’s Rainbow, but his images are as imaginative and powerfully unique as the prose they honor.

Pre-ordered. Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated: One Picture for Every Page: Books: Zak Smith,Steve Erickson Untitled Thomas Pynchon: Books: Thomas Pynchon
Topic: Literature 7:10 pm EDT, Jul 21, 2006

Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.

Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

--Thomas Pynchon

So I guess that means have unti Dec. 5 to finish Ulysses. Untitled Thomas Pynchon: Books: Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon from A to V
Topic: Literature 4:46 pm EST, Nov  5, 2005

In 1973, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow landed on my brain and exploded there like, well, a V-2 rocket.

Long piece that gives some more historical details about the writing and publication of Gravity's Rainbow that I hadn't heard before.

Pynchon from A to V

Search 'locates' Homer's Ithaca
Topic: Literature 5:39 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2005

An amateur British archaeologist says he has located Ithaca, the homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus.

Funny this should come out while I'm in the middle of reading the Odyssey.

Search 'locates' Homer's Ithaca

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