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My Pynchon Experience
Topic Started: Jul 19 2010, 08:21 PM (5,256 Views)
sub-pet
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I have a pony
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I wouldn't call AtD anything less than a masterwork. A few weeks ago I was trying to convince a friend who is afraid of big books to read it, and (half-seriously) made the point of it being the culmination point of narrative-making in human history. There's a hundred novels' worth of plot there and then the ending magically transcends beyond the artifice... umm... Anyway, love the book.
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Jacek
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sub-pet
May 6 2011, 06:36 AM
I wouldn't call AtD anything less than a masterwork. A few weeks ago I was trying to convince a friend who is afraid of big books to read it, and (half-seriously) made the point of it being the culmination point of narrative-making in human history. There's a hundred novels' worth of plot there and then the ending magically transcends beyond the artifice... umm... Anyway, love the book.
Right on. What sub-pet said.

It's one of the dearest books to me of all. The prose is obviously that of a god of writing at the top of his game (and with decades of experience), while the various enmeshed stories run the gamut of fiction (as sub-pet says) and all work. It's also one of the most beautiful & moving novels I know! And, of course, since it's Pynchon, very funny too.
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DB Cooper
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Literary lunatic
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I read about 30 pages of ATD yesterday to sample the goods, and it was good, damn good. Sort of a sci fi, noir, choose your own adventure vibe, and I liked it. Its been a long time since Ive read some Pynchon, and I forgot that the man is a master. Im about halfway through McCarthy's The Crossing, and after I read that bit of ATD I picked up Cormac's book, and the differences were startling. Both masterful, both essential. Quite an interesting contrast though. I dont like to juggle two books typically, but I wont drop The Crossing, Ill read bits of both until Im finished with it. Back to ATD, from the brief bit I read, this book just seems fun, of course with all the heady trappings of Pynchon, but it seems like it will be a romp.
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sub-pet
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There's a scene in AtD that is very similar to one in Blood Meridian, a stint in a mexican prison where a character meets someone from some time back. I was reading BM shortly after AtD and when I came to it it made me stop for a moment, didn't I just read this somewhere? Of course it's way pynchonized but still in my mind it came out as a clear nod towards McCarthy..
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DB Cooper
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It will probably be a long time before I get to Gravity's Rainbow. There is so much out there about WWII: tv shows, history classes, books, etc. that I really have to be in the mood to read about it. I read The Kindly Ones when it came out, and also read Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke fairly recently, so I really have no desire to read about WWII. At all. The next book I will read about it is Vollmann's Europe Central, so realistically that pushes my reading of GR back for a couple years. Maybe the mood will strike me, and after ATD I may feel differently, but I doubt it.
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suzannahhh
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needless to say, but I will anyway
Gravity's Rainbow ain't like
any other WWII book!
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johnnywalkitoff
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i agree with everyone on this page. i constantly dip into Against the Day, whenever I see it, I'll read a good amount and that's after two reads (the second read pretty quickly after it came out); and it still gains esteem with each passing day or when I hear somebody extol its virtues. It used to be:
Gravity's Rainbow
mason & Dixon
Against the Day

Now, I don't have to choose. Do I? O Mason...(and apparently Pynchon doesn't know how to write characters).

I'm happy for you, DB, you get to read Gravity's Rainbow for the first time (someday).
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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i love mason and dixon almost as much as i love Burton or Thomas Browne, not quite as much as i love Tristram Shandy. Which from a grumpy old bat like me is saying quite a bit :)
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DB Cooper
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johnnywalkitoff
May 7 2011, 04:37 PM
i agree with everyone on this page. i constantly dip into Against the Day, whenever I see it, I'll read a good amount and that's after two reads (the second read pretty quickly after it came out); and it still gains esteem with each passing day or when I hear somebody extol its virtues. It used to be:
Gravity's Rainbow
mason & Dixon
Against the Day

Now, I don't have to choose. Do I? O Mason...(and apparently Pynchon doesn't know how to write characters).

I'm happy for you, DB, you get to read Gravity's Rainbow for the first time (someday).
Sort of. My first attempt I read about 180-200 pages and decided to put it down. It wasnt resonating, and the bottom line was it wasnt the right time for me to read GR. Pynchon is really dependent upon timing with me. Im over 100 pages into ATD and really enjoying it, but with the length, and the amount of characters and plot lines Pynchon has already thrown in, there is no way I can put this down for more than a day or two. If I did I fear it would take me another hundred pages to gain traction and slowly remember what I had read. At this point though I would rate it right up there with the best Pynchon Ive read.
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Martstar
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suzannahhh
May 7 2011, 03:57 PM
needless to say, but I will anyway
Gravity's Rainbow ain't like
any other WWII book!
Just what I was gonna say. Gravity's Rainbow is a "WWII book" the way The Wire is a "cop show."
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byrd9999
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byrd is the wyrd
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You know you're reading Pynchon when you suddenly realise your mind was only half on the text and you have no idea (a) what is going on (b) who is talking (c) where any of it is taking place (d) when any of it is taking place, and you have to go back and re-read the last few pages and it makes a bit more sense, but you're still a little confused.
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DB Cooper
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Im now 400 pages into Against the Day. This book is hard to put down. There are the business as usual Pynchonian obscure references, allusions, and hidden meaning, but this text seems more accessible and linear (well, for Pynchon) than his earlier books. Seems that anarchists could read as post 9/11 terrorists, and Pynchon is using past events to comment on current politics and world trends as he has done in his previous books. Great commentary in there, and also if just read as a straight story its incredibly compelling. Im nearing the end of the Iceland Spar section, and there are many mentions and nods at "doubles". Havent parsed the meaning of this duplicity just yet, but it should come more into focus as I go on. Being 1/3 of the way through I hope I can maintain my propulsion, but man theres a lot of book yet to go. I havent lost an iota of interest yet, and now Im completely invested in the characters and plot arc, so Im in until the end.
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byrd9999
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byrd is the wyrd
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Mmm, yes, yes. lovely stuff. All the 'doubling' bits are my favourites.

Have you found the 'hidden forum' yet? There are spoilers in the obvious places, but you should be okay for the bits you've already read:

http://s11.zetaboards.com/thefictionalwoods/forum/49886/
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Martstar
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Slow Learner
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byrd9999
May 11 2011, 03:23 AM
You know you're reading Pynchon when you suddenly realise your mind was only half on the text and you have no idea (a) what is going on (b) who is talking (c) where any of it is taking place (d) when any of it is taking place, and you have to go back and re-read the last few pages and it makes a bit more sense, but you're still a little confused.
Good, then it's not just me.... :)

But you forgot (e) who at least one of the characters even is, having just been introduced to him or her in the last three pages.
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DB Cooper
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Literary lunatic
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byrd9999
May 17 2011, 03:16 AM
Mmm, yes, yes. lovely stuff. All the 'doubling' bits are my favourites.

Have you found the 'hidden forum' yet? There are spoilers in the obvious places, but you should be okay for the bits you've already read:

http://s11.zetaboards.com/thefictionalwoods/forum/49886/
I did see the hidden forum but Im staying away from it until Ive finished. I will say that the Pynchon Wiki for ATD has been very helpful, thats been my primary resource. After I read a section Ill go consult the Wiki to source all the allusions. Im over halfway finished now, and my esteem for this book keeps growing. Not sure that I would categorize it as an unqualified masterpiece, but its very, very good.
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Jacek
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Deathwalker
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I think the threads in the hidden forum are all marked with page numbers; I followed along during my first readthrough, and don't remember running into any spoilers.
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byrd9999
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byrd is the wyrd
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For a spoiler-free read-through, I found this a good resource as I was going along:

http://chumpsofchoice.blogspot.com/2006/12/now-single-up-all-lines.html
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DB Cooper
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Thanks Byrd, Ill take all the resources I can get. The more work you put in with Pynchon, the more you get out.
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DB Cooper
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Okay, about 750 pages in, only 300 more to go! It will be sort of sad to finish ATD, Im enjoying it so much. Probably will be strange to read a different prose style also after being immersed in Pynchon this long. I will say this, ATD has really steeled my resolve to give Gravity's Rainbow another go, and this time Im sure Ill finish. Only two more Pynchon books left and Ill have read all his work, heres hoping that he has one more book left in him.
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DB Cooper
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Crossed the 1000 page mark!! 85 more to go. Just realized that this will be the longest book Ive ever read, beating Infinite Jest by a mere five pages. What a book, Im so glad that I decided to pick it up and stick with it. Even though Ive read V,Lot 49, Vineland, and Inherent Vice, this puts Pynchon in a totally new perspective for me. I was a fan after reading those books, but ATD has made me a FAN. Possibly even a cultist. Greatly looking forward to Gravity's Rainbow now, and I think Im much better prepared to read it. I know the size of ATD will always put people off, but its such a shame. The book really is enthralling, right from the first chapter. Obviously it has high literary aspirations, but I cant state enough how damn fun the thing is to read, just on a story level. Even if I never read it again, I will dip into it from time to time just to read some of my favorite parts. There are so many doorstops to get to, but at the end of the day this book really delivers everything you could want from literature. Its not without flaw, mind you, but nothing so glaring as cant be forgiven. Some of the middle section was a bit muddled, and the mathematical logic was a bit hard to follow, though it wasnt such a huge part that it detracted from the book. Also Pynchon addresses a few of the same themes many, many times in the book. Minor quibbles. I really hope the man has at least one more book in him.
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