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1. Inherent Vice: A Novel
2. V. (Perennial Classics)
3. Against the Day
4. Slow Learner: Early Stories
5. Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics
6. The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial
7. Mason & Dixon: A Novel
8. The Small Rain
9. Pictures Showing What Happens
10. A Gravity's Rainbow Companion:
11. Grim Phoenix: Reconstructing Thomas
12. Been Down So Long It Looks Like
13. Thomas Pynchon (Bloom's Modern
14. Entropy
15. Approaches to Teaching Pynchon's
16. Low-Lands
17. Thomas Pynchon: Reading from the
18. The Teachings of Don B.: Satires,
19. Understanding Thomas Pynchon (Understanding
20. Pynchon and the Political (Studies

1. Inherent Vice: A Novel
by Thomas Pynchon
Paperback: 384 Pages (2010-07-27)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143117564
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon- private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre that is at once exciting and accessible, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there.

It's been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Undeniably one of the most influential writers at work today, Pynchon has penned another unforgettable book.Amazon.com Review
"Pynchon flashes the Sixties rock references faster than a Ten Years After guitar solo:His characters walk around wearing T-shirts from Pearls Before Swine, name-drop the Electric Prunes, turn up the Stones' 'Something Happened to Me Yesterday' on the radio. (I had never heard of Bonzo Dog Band's "Bang Bang" before, but it's on my iPod now.) The rock & roll fanboy love on every page is a feast for Pynchon obsessives, since we've always wondered what the man listens to….The songs are fragments in the elegiac tapestry for the Sixties, an era full of hippie slobs who just wanted to be left alone and so accidentally backed into heroic flights of revolutionary imagination. Can you dig it?" --Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

Amazon Exclusive: Thomas Pynchon's Soundtrack to Inherent Vice

Larry "Doc" Sportello is a private eye who sees the world through a sticky dope haze, animated by the music of an era whose hallmarks were peace, love, and revolution. As Doc's strange case grows stranger, his 60s soundtrack--ranging from surf pop and psychedelic rock to eerie instrumentals--picks up pace. Have a listen to some of the songs you'll hear in Inherent Vice—the playlist that follows is designed exclusively for Amazon.com, courtesy of Thomas Pynchon.(Links will take you to individual MP3 downloads, full albums, or artist pages.)

  • "Bamboo" by Johnny and the Hurricanes
  • "Bang Bang" by The Bonzo Dog Band
  • Bootleg Tape by Elephant's Memory
  • "Can't Buy Me Love" by The Beatles
  • "Desafinado" by Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, with Charlie Byrd
  • Elusive Butterfly by Bob Lind
  • "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra
  • "Full Moon in Pisces" performed by Lark
  • "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
  • The Greatest Hits of Tommy James and The Shondells
  • "Happy Trails to You" by Roy Rogers
  • "Help Me, Rhonda" by The Beach Boys
  • "Here Come the Hodads" by The Marketts
  • "The Ice Caps" by Tiny Tim
  • "Interstellar Overdrive" by Pink Floyd
  • "It Never Entered My Mind" by Andrea Marcovicci
  • "Just the Lasagna (Semi-Bossa Nova)" by Carmine & the Cal-Zones
  • "Long Trip Out" by Spotted Dick
  • "Motion by the Ocean" by The Boards
  • "People Are Strange (When You're a Stranger)" by The Doors
  • "Pipeline" by The Chantays
  • "Quentin's Theme" (Theme Song from "Dark Shadows") performed by Charles Randolph Grean Sounde
  • Rembetissa by Roza Eskenazi
  • "Repossess Man" by Droolin’ Floyd Womack
  • "Skyful of Hearts" performed by Larry "Doc" Sportello
  • "Something Happened to Me Yesterday" by The Rolling Stones
  • "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman
  • "Soul Gidget" by Meatball Flag
  • "Stranger in Love" performed by The Spaniels
  • "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies
  • "Super Market" by Fapardokly
  • "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen
  • "Telstar" by The Tornados
  • "Tequila" by The Champs
  • Theme Song from "The Big Valley" performed by Beer
  • "There's No Business Like Show Business" by Ethel Merman
  • Vincebus Eruptum by Blue Cheer
  • "Volare" by Domenico Modugno
  • "Wabash Cannonball" by Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseans
  • "Wipeout" by The Surfaris
  • "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys
  • "Yummy Yummy Yummy" performed by Ohio Express

  • ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (98)

    2-0 out of 5 stars The Thomas Pynchon Joke Book
    In the editorial reviews of another Pynchon novel, Amazon included this blurb from the Seattle Times: "Like Bruegel's painting 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,' [Pynchon's novel] is a portrait of mankind's attempt to transcend our mortality--or at least push up against its very edge."Woah! Duuude! Heavy, huh? And there are many other such panegyrics which proclaim how profound Thomas Pynchon's novels are.

    Very well. I shall attempt no judgment as to the validity of this view. Some people apparently think he's the greatest, greatest since Urlugal, and maybe Gravity's Rainbow is the one document that future generations will study when trying to understand the society of this era.

    But "Inherent Vice" is not at all profound, and it doesn't attempt to be. It makes no attempt to probe the fabric of our society, and -- unless you think that it's important to observe that all cops are sexually-frustrated morons (the bad guys) -- there's no social message whatsoever to be gleaned from this novel. (If you disagree and instead believe that this is a novel with a deep message, allow me to suggest that you've been spending too much time tied to the Huffington Post.) (Reference to Allman Brothers song.)

    It's a farce. It's meant to be a rollicking romp with babes in bikinis, LA hipsters, dopers, cheaters, six-time losers, and girls by the whirlpool, lookin' for a new fool. Yeah, that's it precisely. This is Pynchon's attempt at writing Subterranean Homesick Blues into a novel.

    Cool! Groovy! Uptight and out-O-sight! But does it rock? Most important, IS IT FUNNY?

    Let's put it this way:
    It's about as funny as if Eminem were to release a comedy album.
    It's about as funny as if Thomas Friedman were to start writing Doonesbury.
    It's as funny as if Cecil Taylor had joined Spike Jones & His City Slickers (reference to a musical group that Pynchon is said to admire).

    It's about as funny as a rubber crutch in a polio ward. In fact, that line is similar to the hackneyed humor in much of the book. If you adore Thomas Pynchon and everything he stands for (as you understand it), you'll think that this novel is the greatest thing since milk on Wheaties®. But for the rest of us, it's like . . . you know how when you'd show up at a girl's house for a date, and her dad would start making these jokes (some slightly off-color) to show how cool he was in front of you?

    That's what the agony of this book is.

    Why put yourself through that again?

    Yo! Pynchon, dude! Go back to being profound . . . or at least esoteric.

    5-0 out of 5 stars WHY ISN'T THERE A KINDLE VERSION?
    This book is on the NY Times Bestseller list.And it has received numerous rave editorial reviews.So why is it not available in the Kindle format?Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West" isn't available either.C'mon, Amazon!

    5-0 out of 5 stars and limitless virtues...
    a miraculously humorous, friendly, witty, creative and highly intelligent story that perfectly answers the inane complaint that Pynchon is "too difficult to get through." I love his lengthy novels and consider them masterpieces. Each page is a wonder unto itself. To follow up the epic, encyclopedic magnitude of "Against The Day" with such a tight, concise, rollicking, and light-hearted psychedelic mystery story is another surprising stroke of genius from the man worthy of endless esteem and awe.

    This is energetic and delightful "summertime reading" that will quench your thirst for something fun and peppy while it surreptitiously expands your mind! The language is gorgeous, the plot twists intriguing, and the dynamic philosophical musings are little gems of cognitive candy that leave a lasting taste.

    This amazing book proves a thoroughly enriching and satisfying novel through-and-through.

    Long Live Thomas Pynchon, the reigning master of the game!

    5-0 out of 5 stars She's a mean country
    This is no more a mystery novel than any of Pynchon's other novels are mysteries. Although the protagonist is a private eye, he is no more on a quest than are Oedipa Maas, Herbert Stencil, Tyrone Slothrop, or Mason & Dixon. Some readers think of this present Pynchonian installment as hard-boiled, a characteristic that is associated with the mystery genre, but there is also another possible interpretation: Rather than hard-boiled, the style is meant to describe a mean and desolate civilization, one completely void of compassion, of human warmth, or, for that matter, human contact. Characters who are not drugged, are caught up in pointless pop culture. If there is indeed a mystery to be solved, few are coherent enough to care. If some care, few are articulate enough to express this, even to themselves. As we make our way through Pynchon's fictions, from the renaissance of Mason & Dixon through the turn of the twentieth century of V. and Against the Day, and to the World War II of Gravity's Rainbow and the 60s of Lot 49, perhaps we can sense the beginnings of the coldness that comes to dominate Inherent Vice. In any case, if this book is a comedy, it is not playful. It may be Pynchon's most realistic story to-date.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Accessible Pynchonia
    I am probably one of the few people on this planet who can claim to have read all of Pynchon's novels, with the exception of Against the Day (which I still have three hundred pages to go), and I've perused Gravity's Rainbow four times over a twenty year period.I can therefore say with some authority that this is definitely his most accessible novel.The plot is pretty much linear and straightforward, and outside of a brief jaunt to Las Vegas, all the action takes place in the span of a few weeks in a beachtown and other parts of the LA area, as opposed to his other novels where the action unfolds over months, years, even centuries in various and sundry regions around the globe from the vantage points of numerous characters.This novel is also unique in the Pynchon oeuvre in that it is told from the viewpoint of only one character, the "gum-sandal" hippy detective Doc Sportello.Pynchon affords us a deep look into the mind of this singular character, who bears some resemblance to previous happy-go-lucky types in Pynchonland, from Tyrone Slothrop, with whom he shares a central mystery and a lot of detective work coupled with a string of casual love encounters, to Zoyd Wheeler, one of the main characters in Vineland who could even be a more jaded, older version of Doc.In the process of solving the mystery of the disappearance of a bigwig developer and his own ex-girlfriend, Doc works his way through a viper's nest of odd and sometimes menacing characters, proving himself not only a lot smarter than he seems on the surface, and a badass not to be messed with, but also a man of great compassion for the folks under his watchful eye.One of the most enchanting aspects of this novel is how well Pynchon captures a sense of time and place.His detailed descriptions of car rides through the LA area, songs on the radio, eateries and other establishments, homes and institutions have the ring of authenticity, and Pynchon must have done some prodigious research into the local history and culture of late '60s LA.Or perhaps he was there at the time and has a fantastic memory for details.Either way, Pynchon's latest novel is a refreshing break from the mindnumbingly epic scope of his previous one, but it resonates with many of the themes that Pynchon has developed throughout his career as a novelist, particularly the struggle of "little people" to survive and understand the bare workings of the monstrous institutions of authority and power that shape and channel their lives. ... Read more

    2. V. (Perennial Classics)
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 560 Pages (1999-04-01)
    list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$7.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060930217
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
    Editorial Review

    Product Description

    The wild, macabre tale of the twentieth century and of two men--one looking for something he has lost, the other with nothing much to lose--and "V.," the unknown woman of the title.Amazon.com Review
    Having just been released from the Navy, Benny Profane is content tolead a slothful existence with his friends, where the only real ambition isto perfect the art of "schlemihlhood," or being a dupe, and where"responsibility" is a dirty word. Among his pals--called the WholeSick Crew--is Slab, an artist who can't seem to paint anything other thancheese danishes. But Profane's life changes dramatically when he befriendsStencil, an active ambitious young man with an intriguing mission--to findout the identity of a woman named V., who knew Stencil's father during thewar, but who suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (86)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Try, trying, tried.....

    This was my third attempt at reading V and finishing a novel that "everyone"
    calls a classic. I got about a third done and I still didn't care at all about
    any of the characters nor did I intend to spend hours of my lifetime trying again.
    So I put it down for the last time.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Complexity Cubed
    Undeniably, there are so many moments of gleeful genius to be found amidst the yo-yo mechanics being engineered in V., but there are equal parts tech manual of automated history regurgitation. Moments where the two blur seamlessly together suggest how masterful a writer Pynchon is at his best, while at his worst his writing, though stylistically still impressive, is impenetrable.

    Reading the back cover or jacket copy of V. may suggest some semblance of a plot, but that simply isn't the case. A co-worker of mine saw my copy on my desk while I had stepped away, and upon my return, said she was interested in a good mystery, did I recommend? I nearly slapped the book out of her hand, as any such attempt might turn her off reading permanently. Make no mistake here though: for the properly equipped adventurer, this is an unforgettable exploration into literary chaos and is unlike most anything I've read. For those attempting and struggling, spelunk on without your map, the tight squeezes are treacherous, but you'll get through to the end and enjoy the wide open expanses.

    The three star rating is meant to represent both the initiated and not. I'd love to give this novel five stars, because I really did enjoy most of it and appreciated all, but V. is simply not accessible to the bulk of the reading population, and I don't just mean that they may not like it, I mean they won't be able to read it at all, sadly, to no fault of their own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Living with and without imaginative power in the 20th century
    Pynchon creates three overlapping worlds in V. The first features Benny Profane, a beer-bellied slacker in the mid 1950's, who stays in touch with his navy buddies while he lives in Manhattan, hunts alligators in the sewers, and drinks heavily with a young intellectual crowd that talks only in proper nouns. His second world features Sidney Stencil, a British spy who vanished in 1919, and his son Herbert, who was born in 1901 and relentlessly seeks the story of his father's death. The Pynch's third world is articulated most clearly by Fausto Maijstral, a poet born in 1919 who tells stories of love and guilt in a long lyrical letter (and confession) to his daughter.

    At some point, each of these characters is affected by Victoria Wren, a British woman (born in 1880) who is drawn to espionage, sadomasochistic sex, and sexual fetishes. While their connections to Victoria--that is, V.--range from comical and weird (Benny sees her mad influence in the sewers) to profound (Fausto witnesses her death), V. has the greatest effect on the intensely imaginative Herbert Stencil, who has dedicated his life to learning about V. and her interaction with his father. This search for V. is the heartbeat in Pynchon's book.

    In writing V., the Pynch creates a sharp contrast between the slacker world of Benny Profane and imaginative worlds of the Stencils and the poet Maijstral. In making this contrast, Pynchon shows a world of superficial and arbitrary affiliation for Benny, which is a not-inaccurate rendering of life for people living extended adolescences. (Believe me; I know.) Meanwhile, the worlds of the Stencils and Maijstral are beautiful, deep, and subtle, although the practical Sidney Stencil, a spy, is focused on finding the pattern in events that may or may not threaten British interests. Regardless, the many chapters featuring the perspectives of these characters are fascinating and show great imaginative power.

    At the same time, Pynchon threads all his chapters with a single theme: inanimate objects and their capacity to enter our imaginations. At times, the effects of the inanimate in V. are harmless and familiar. The character Rachel, for example, is enamored with her sports car. At other times, the imaginative power of inanimate objects warps the mind, with V. finding self-destructive uses for cosmetic surgery and prosthetics. This fascination with inanimate objects also leads to what is another's character's suicide or murder. Only Benny is immune from this power.

    V. is Pynchon's first novel. But is it the best place to start reading the fiction of this truly talented writer? Well, many Pynchoneers will disagree. But, I'd start with Vineland (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin), where the Pynch's playfulness, mastery of form, concern with family, and awareness of the dark side are easily accessible, as well as sometimes hilarious. Next, I'd try Mason & Dixon: A Novel, which, in my reading, weaves together 78 short stories, many of them masterworks, creating a narrative about a meaningful friendship (and everything else). Then, I'd read the books on whim, using Inherent Vice: A Novel, Pynchon's mystery featuring a doper PI, as a change of pace. You can't miss with any of these novels (although I must say that Pynchon makes more of his slacker characters in his later books).

    Regardless, V., which published in 1963, remains completely fresh and imaginatively engaging and is highly recommended.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "The ultimate Plot Which Has No Name"
    This debut's strong if not a knockout. I liked its ambition, but compared to "Against the Day" nearly 45 years later, for instance, or even the recent "Inherent Vice" (see my reviews), this satisfies as a shaggy-dog tale but does not overwhelm me with its power. But, he wasn't even 25 when this bold book was published in 1961. Pynchon improved in crafting intellectual thrillers full of global conspiracies, cartoonish characters, flashes of inspired prose, and dense allusions you have to look up. These elements all exist in "V.", so it's valuable to watch them bloom. But, they often dazzle for briefer periods, before the plot veers away and its caricatured figures (few of whom manage to stick with you) recede into the distance.

    Distancing does diffuse Pynchon's power. For all of their detail, the Whole Sick Crew whir past as if stick drawings in an animated film. There's an accelerated pace to this narrative crammed full of digressions and shenanigans. Granted, some chapters amass enough obsessively compiled data (how Esther gets her nose job's described in clinical, precise language), weird scenes (Father Fairing's mission to the rats) or horrific settings (South-West Africa after WWI); other events such as the siege of Malta in WWII or the attempted theft of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" for all their bulk don't leave as much of an impression. Still, as in the passages I cite, the writing suddenly rises to its potential.

    The book spins two gradually intertwined storylines. Benny Profane and the Sick Crew disembark from the Navy in dock and pal around the East Coast in Beat style, circa 1956. Here he thinks of his sometime lover, Rachel Owlglass, my favorite character, sketchy as she stays. "She visited him occasionally, as now, by night, like a succubus, coming in with the snow. There was no way he knew to keep her out." (30; Modern Library 1966 ed.) Profane eventually makes his way to Malta.

    To there, Herbert Stencil early in the last century pursues the enigmatic title character "V." He tells one of her guises about the strange Arctic realm of Vheiss (similar to the pursuit of Shambhala in "Against the Day"): "As if you lived inside a madman's kaleidoscope. Even your dreams become flooded with colors, with shapes no Occidental ever saw. Not real shapes, not meaningful ones. Simply random, the way clouds change over a Yorkshire landscape." (170)

    For "V." in Florence, Victoria Wren, at that moment of diversion as the theft's attempted, it was "as if she saw herself embodying a feminine principle, acting as complement to all this bursting, explosive male energy. Inviolate and calm, she watched the spasms of wounded bodies, the fair of violent death, framed and staged, it seemed, for her alone in that tiny square. From her hair the heads of five crucified also looked on, no more expressive than she." (209)

    Later, regarding her latest incarnation as Victoria: "If she was an historical fact then she continued active today and at the moment, because the ultimate Plot Which Has No Name was as yet unrealized, although V. might be no more a she than a sailing vessel or a nation." (226)

    The embedded tales of African terror, Maltese assault, and New York subway oddness with albino alligator hunts do serve to break up the crazy zig-zag of the plot as it is. They show Pynchon's love of invention, one of his most endearing qualities. Sections approach poetic profundity.

    "Why use the room as an introduction to an apologia? Why? Why use the room as introduction to an apologia? Because the room, though windowless and cold at night, is a hothouse. Because the room is the past, though it has no history of its own. Because, as the physical being-there of a bed or horizontal plane determines what we call love; as a high place must exist before God's word can come to a flock and any sort of religion begin; so must there be a room, sealed against the present, before we can make any attempt to deal with the past." (305)

    Rachel tells Benny after they make love and he's complained about his shortcomings:

    "You have to grow up," she finally said. "That's all: my own unlucky boy, didn't you ever think maybe ours is an act too? We're older than you, we lived inside you once: the fifth rib, closest to the heart. We learned all about it then. After that it had to become our game to nourish a heart you all believe is hollow though we know different. Now you all live inside us, for nine months, and when ever you decide to come back after that." (370)

    The Epilogue in 1919 follows the connection between the 1956 and the earlier stories of the pursuit of "V." I felt the last third of the book lagged as the Crew's exploits rushed by in more dull than lively fashion, but as of 1961 their carrying on might have felt fresher than it does a half-century later. The Maltese setting's innovative, even if the characters and their plotting don't add up to as much as one hopes (a common result for Pynchon's schemers). Still, near the end, it winds up in relevant fashion, as do many of his subsequent novels, no matter how wildly told.

    "If there is any political moral to be found in this world," Stencil once wrote in his journal, "it is that we carry on the business of this century with an intolerable double vision. Right and Left; the hothouse and the street. The Right can only live and work hermetically, in the hothouse of the past, while outside the Left prosecute their affairs in the streets by manipulated mob violence. And cannot live but in the dreamscape of the future." (468)

    I found this readable, not nearly as hard to comprehend as I'd been warned. As I turned the pages I kept wondering what would happen next. There's a lot of valleys compared to peaks, but any imaginative reader may find this entertaining and sometimes philosophical. Like "Inherent Vice," there's a detective plot overlaying deeper reflections. As with "The Crying of Lot 49" which came next, this sketches out a sketchy conspiracy that remains such. Compared to "AtD," this feels more accessible and makes a good preparation. I'm off to "Gravity's Rainbow" next, feeling finally ready for its ascent.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It is easier to nail a blob of mercury, than to describe this novel...
    ... so read the blurb on the back of my now ancient copy of Pynchon's classic novel. This is my third reading; I've savored less than five other books in a triple read. V's re-reads have been roughly twenty years apart. Each time I find Pynchon's erudition, across a broad range of fields, as well as his knowledge of the human condition, which he places in capitals at one point in this novel, absolutely astonishing. And perhaps the most amazing aspect is that Pynchon was only TWENTY-FOUR when he wrote it. How, how, could he have learned so much by then? It is humbling.

    "V.'s is a country of coincidence, ruled by a ministry of myth." That is one of Pynchon's apt descriptions of his work which is imbedded in the novel. There is a thin narrative string, Stencil's nominative search for "V," starting with a discovery in his dad's diplomatic papers, which weaves its way through the book; though it would be a stretch to say that it ties it together. Along the way, Pynchon devotes entire chapters to, what for an American, are somewhat obscure portions of European history. There are the spies in Cairo, and the impact of the Fashoda incident, in 1898, as France and England jockeyed for imperial positions in Africa; there is the chapter in former German South-West Africa (present day Namibia; , in 1922, a South African mandate); another is on the political unrest in Florence, Italy in 1899, which serves as a backdrop for some Machiavellian musings on the lion and the fox; there is the siege of Malta during the Second World War, and there is another chapter set against the "June disturbances," also in Malta, of 1919, and there is Malta yet again during the "Suez crisis" of 1956.

    America has its own chapters; mainly Norfolk, VA., where two of the principal characters, Pig Bodine and Benny Profane are in the process of leaving the Navy, and gravitating to NYC. Pynchon is a master of mixing the surreal, hence the comparisons with Marquez and Joyce, with analytical, factual narrative. For example, there is a wonderful section on Pig Bodine hunting the alligators in the sewers of NYC, and coming across Father Fairing's "parish," where he preached to the rats during the depression (the meek will inherit the earth!). And this is juxtaposed with the psychological and clinical descriptions involved in a Jewish woman, Esther, obtaining a nose job. Typical of Pynchon, there is a tangential narrative thread that involves Esther's plastic surgeon, Dr. Schoenmaker, and why he undertook this career, after seeing the damage done to his "hero," Godolphin, a WW I pilot. Pynchon covers the "state of the art" for plastic surgery during this period. It is disturbing; plastic surgery in its infancy. As a by-product it created many a "monster" who would haunt the cross-roads of rural America.

    For an author with this narrative power, Pynchon is unique in also having a strong scientific background and knowledge which he also utilizes in the story. For example, there is the "catenary curve," complete with the correct equation; Wheatstone bridge electrical circuits, and you could even imagine Pynchon doodling away at Cornell when he decided that the "Kilroy" graffiti drawing of the Second World War was really derived from a band-pass filter! Pynchon has a dentist named Eigenvalue. The author declares that history is a "step-function." It also helps to know four other languages; the author utilizes un-translated French, German, Italian and Arabic.

    Social indictments? Franz Fanon, in his The Wretched of the Earth could not have been more scathing than the author's passage about the Cairo cab driver: "where goldsmiths live in filth and tend tiny flames to make adornment for your traveling English ladies." Anti-colonialism? The entire chapter on South West Africa is devastating, culminating in: "... a guilt that had never really had meaning, that the church and the secular entrenched had made out of whole cloth; after twenty years, simply not to be ashamed. Before you disemboweled or whatever you did with her to be able to take a Herero girl before the eyes of your superior officer and stay potent. And talk with them before you killed them without the sheep's eye, the shuffling, the prickly-heat of embarrassment..."

    And at 24, the author had achieved some insights into the male - female relationship business: "In five years of marriage all he knew was that both of them were whole selves; hardly fusing at all, with no more emotional osmosis than leakage of semen through the solid membranes of contraceptive..."Or, "A woman wants to feel like a woman...is all. She wants to be taken, penetrated, ravished. But more than that she wants to enclose the man."Or, "Rachel now only wanted to hold him, feel the top of his beer belly flattening her bra-less breasts, already evolving schemes to make him lose weight, exercise more." Or, "And yet one solution to a most ancient paradox of love: simultaneous sovereignty, yet a fusing-together. Dominance and submissiveness didn't apply."

    "The Middle East, cradle of civilization, may yet be its grave."For a novel written in 1963, there are some extraordinarily relevant sections for today, including the aforementioned quote. There is the tie in to the Mahdi, the uprising in the Sudan against General Gordon, and the ivory comb, with the five crucified "limeys" that came out of those events. The comb weaves its own way through the novel, ending in a most unlikely place. Pynchon even uses an expression I felt was of recent origins only: "Shalom aleikum." It combines the Hebrew word for peace and the Arabic greeting, "be upon you." The author also has Gitmo (so abbreviated) in the novel.

    And a couple of points required waiting for the lengthening perspective of the third time around: "It could only be age's worst side-effect: nostalgia."And, "All the while only in the process of learning life's single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can ever admit to in a lifetime and stay sane."

    I found some of the party scenes a bit "flat," yet could dress them up as "dramatic interlude." Overall, though, this remains a 6-star read, one of the top 10 American novels, and worthy, with more connections still to be made, of a fourth read, if I'm offered another score of years.

    ... Read more

    3. Against the Day
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 1104 Pages (2007-10-30)
    list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0143112562
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    The inimitable Thomas Pynchon has done it again. Hailed as "a major work of art" by The Wall Street Journal, his first novel in almost ten years spans the era between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I and moves among locations across the globe (and to a few places not strictly speaking on the map at all). With a phantasmagoria of characters and a kaleidoscopic plot, Against the Day confronts a world of impending disaster, unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places and still manages to be hilarious, moving, profound, and so much more. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (71)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Stay for the ending
    I do not feel the need to wax elequent concerning the plot of this difficult yet rewarding book.But if you are here, then that means you are familiar with Pynchon.I found this book to be more complicated than Mason and Dixon, which is pretty darn complicated.Because it is so long, and cannot be read as a page turner by the average reader (which I consider myself to be) you will be helped mightily in working your way through the book along with the wiki's that have been created for it.Wikipedia, for instance, has a very helpful character list that I utilized several times, because characters will disappear for long stretches of the book, and then reappear in a completely different locale, greatly testing one's memory as to who exactly you are reading about.There is also a page by page wiki of the book, which provides extensive references from the text, which was somewhat helpful at times, and I would probably use more on a second reading.These resources will help you, I believe, get through the book.

    As to the story, it is sprawling and contains elements of genres that Pynchon has not worked before, particularly sci fi, through the Chums of Chance and the search for Shambhala.Other reviewers have given great analyses of the complex story, so I don't feel like I need to contribute to that, though I will say that reading these reviews helped me understand what Pynchon might (and I emphasize might) have been working towards.My own idea is that he is telling the story of technological change as it has effected world events by using a host of characters and a sprawling geography.But you can come up with your own ideas concerning what he is saying.What I DO want to say is that if you can make it to the end, in the last quarter of the book, beginning with the section titled "Against the Day," the book really picks up steam and becomes, in my opinion, much easier to follow.And the last part, which is played out in Los Angeles, is a like a prequel to Inherent Vices, which I don't think any other reviewer has noted here.So, if you are interested in what may be Pynchon's last Major Work, go for it.Give yourself time, the middle section does in fact drag, which a recent reviewer has noted, but if you can get through it, I think you will find yourself smiling as the book hurtles towards an end that is not a resolution, much like the times in which we are living.

    3-0 out of 5 stars An Excluded Middle
    Pynchon fans will be disappointed. A re-read of previous novels -- except Vineland -- is time better spent.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not impressed...
    The book "Against the Day" (an NPR recommendation) promised much but fell flat on it's face. It's fun and buoyant for the first 600 pages, but starts to wear thin at about 700 pages, then you tough out the last 200+ pages in the mere hope that you will be rewarded with a decent, climatic wrap-up of the many threads... but no. Disappointing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars More than 4, tad less than 5, I'll round up for spit & polish
    It's set a hundred years ago but not much has changed. "This big parade of modern inventions, all spirited march tunes, public going ooh and aah, but someplace lurking just out of sight is always some lawyer or accountant, beating that 2/4 like clockwork and runnin the show." (33)

    Investigating Anarchists in Chicago, Lew's "down in the deadfalls where the desperate malcontents convened, fingerless slaughterhouse veterans, irregulars in the army of sorrow, prophesiers who had seen America as it might be in visions America's wardens could not tolerate." (51) This novel fills with unease, unrest, and privation.

    Modern chemistry replaces alchemy as capitalism "really gets going," true, as Merle says. But, Webb suggests: "Maybe 'capitalism' decided it didn't need the old magic anymore." He goes on: "Why bother? Had their own magic, doin just fine, thanks, instead of turning lead into gold, they could take poor people's sweat and turn it into greenbacks, and save that lead for enforcement purposes." (79) This tale pits the haves vs. the have-nots, relentlessly; both appear trapped by their ideology.

    After their Arctic expedition by balloon, each of the Chums of Chance gaze "at the enigmatic miniature he had purchased, representing a faraway disposition of rocks he would probably never get to see, and try to glimpse, even at this degree of indirectness, some expression of truth beyond the secular." (126) The yearning for a higher meaning permeates this panoramic, unsettling, recondite, and arcane narrative.

    It's as if a brane slithered next to our world for a slightly alternate history, a counternarrative full of what science fiction and adventure tales might have imagined for early 20c readers of pulps, westerns, and Oriental mystery. "Let us imagine a lateral world, set only infinitesimally to the side of the one we think we know, in which just this has come to pass." (230). The era described, at the end of the Victorian reign, sounds not much different than what transpired, in its "grim realities." Aging and Death are resisted, within "this all-enveloping pantomime" enacted by twin professors Renfrew and Werfner, England and Hanover, temporal flow of Time against sinister Power half-glimpsed.

    This malevolent tension between those who favor the spirit and those who triumph by the sword permeates this plot. As with Asia, where "two distinct versions" endure: "one an object of political struggle among the Powers of the Earth-- the other a timeless faith by whose terms all such earthly struggle is illusion. Those whose enduring object is power in this world are only too happy to use without remorse the others, whose aim of course is to transcend all question of power. Each regards the other as a pack of deluded fools." (249)

    Into this standoff, time-traveling agents enter. Mr. Ace: "Glossy black eyes, presented as weapons in a duel. The gently damaged, irrevocably educated eyes we associate with the visiting dead. When he smiled, or attempted to, it was not reassuring." (415) The trespassers back from the future do not bring solace.

    Neither can science, even theories of higher mathematics where more than one character seeks answers. "Vectorism, in which Kit had once thought he had glimpsed transcendence, a co-existing world of imaginaries, the 'spirit realm' that Yale legend Lee De Forest once imagined he was journeying through, had not shown Kit, after all, a way to escape the world governed by real numbers." (675)

    Meaning may beckon earthier pilgrims too. Shambhala in Central Asia possibly exists; the quest for a terrestrial paradise consumes the next chapters that particularly engrossed me. The Pure Land sought by Buddhists, the rebirth by penance, the advent of The Compassionate, Tibetan tales of wisdom all flicker as if in a comforting mirage, or fevered vision. But transcendence passes and again, war and murder stalk the Balkans and Venetian shores closer to the heart of a Europe to be torn by hatred and profited from by Capital.

    Yashmeen leaves an Austrian passage as "she gazed backward at iron convergences and receding signal-lamps. Outward and visible metaphor, she thought, for the complete ensemble of 'free choices' that define the course of a human life. A new switching point every few seconds, sometimes seen, sometimes traveled over invisibly and irrevocably. From on board the train one can stand and look back, and watch it all flowing away, shining, as if always meant to be." (811) A very Buddhist concept, amid the chaos to be unleashed by spies and soldiers around her and her companions.

    Contrast with Cyprian's filtered thoughts, from "this bottom dead center of the European Question, this bad daydream toward which all had been converging, murderous as a locomotive running without lights or signals, unsettling as points thrown at the last minute, awakened from because of some noise out in the larger world, some doorbell or discontented animal, that might remain forever unidentified." (845)

    Later, out in Mexico during its revolutionary melee, Frank hears a 'brujo' muse about the destruction wrought by progress. He wonders: "who at some point hadn't come to hate the railroad? It penetrated, it broke apart cities and wild herds and watersheds, it created economic panics and armies of jobless men and women, and generations of hard, bleak city-dwellers with no principles who ruled with unchecked power, it took away everything indiscriminately, to be sold, to be slaughtered, to be led beyond the reach of love." (930)

    Every few pages, no matter the convoluted plot or the erudite references, passages such as this leap out of the prose. This makes this book such a powerful read, a novel of ideas, yes, but one where-- and I differ a bit from conventional criticism of the book here-- you do care about the impact of lofty schemes upon little people. The characters do flit and pass and I wish I had a scorecard to keep track. The aims of this famously difficult author (thanks for web Wiki-linked annotations) may be ambitious as before, but there is an outrage at inhumanity which makes this much more than a parody of styles, a catalogue of registers. The Albanians watch the intruders from the West: "what were they doing out here this late in history?" (948) We, like them, wonder. Caught up as they all are in a geopolitical, intellectual, puzzling game, we have no clue either.

    The Tree of Diana, in film-crazed Hollywood, will then blossom, silver amalgamated with quicksilver under a lens, nitric acid added to animate it. For this element too is alive: "Has its own forks in the road, choices to make just like the rest of us." (1060) Covergences and coincidences in a book begun and ended with the Chums of Chance fill this narrative. Even the natural world shares the patterns grooved deep.

    It's a human book, for all its superhuman scale. Yashmeen's love for Cyprian, his for a higher calling, the familial ties that try to resist the juggernauts of death machines driven by Capital: touches of intimacy soften the epic, relentless, global scale of this ambitious novel. As with an epic, the individual struggles to stand out in a starring role. The cast threatens here to exceed thousands.

    Pynchon attempts to straddle three decades of planetary chaos while focusing on a dozen or so people caught up in the whirlwind. The pace lags, as when the crew of the "Inconvenience" floats over the Great War and the refugees in its aftermath as if far too detached from the human suffering. I failed to feel as if I was in Mexico during the Revolution, or lost in the Balkans or studio-birthed L.A. except for momentary passages. The little men and women do get crushed, after all, on the other hand, and this plays into the difficulty readers may have in reconciling their humanist expectations for the novel to the pitiless, yet fitfully compassionate movements of this grand scheme. This telescopes and then draws back, over and over.

    Years pass in a paragraph as the Soviets rise and the Tsar falls yet another paragraph is given over to a debate about potato salad among Iowan transplants to L.A. That paragraph, however, took place a mile from my house. So I attest in the local geography back then applicable, the author got all his left turns right and knows to his dubious credit as we natives may that rats do nest up in palm trees.

    In the end, as we know from the Colorado mines and Haymarket and the L.A. Times bombing all attributed to Anarchist terror rather than plutocratic suppression, the "commonwealth of the oppressed" succumbed. Scarsdale Vibe imagines above Denver where the strikers are to be mown down or driven off what may not be so much prescient ten decades ago as predictable: "Where alien muckers and jackers went creeping after their miserable communistic dreams, the good lowland townsfolk will come up by the netful into these hills, clean, industrious, Christian, while we, gazing out over their little vacation bungalows, will dwell in top-dollar palazzos befitting our station, which their mortgage monies will be paying to build for us." (1001)

    Was it worth the dozens of hours? Yes, uneven as it was, it would not let go of my imagination. I'll take its ups and downs over smoother paths worn down by more timorous novelists and predictable thinkers anytime.

    5-0 out of 5 stars In Support of the Chums of Chance . . .
    I had started reading this book and lost it after only about 600 pages, apparently to a literate thief. The same day, a news bulletin reported that a young lad named Falcon escaped from Colorado in an odd-looking hot-air balloon. I assumed of course that Falcon had embarked upon an exciting adventure with the Chums of Chance, but I needed to order a new copy of the book to be sure. Thanks to Amazon, the replacement book arrived quickly enough to affirm the truth. Falcon, wherever you are now, some of us are not fooled by the official story that came out later about irresponsible parents and reality shows. ... Read more

    4. Slow Learner: Early Stories
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 208 Pages (1985-04-30)
    list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$4.68
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316724432
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    "Slow Learner" is a compilation of early stories written between 1959 and 1964, before Pynchon achieved recognition as a prominent writer for his 1963 novel, "V" and containing a revelatory essay on his early influences and writing. The collection consists of five short stories: "The Small Rain", "Lowlands", "Entropy", "Under the Rose", and "The Secret Integration", as well as an introduction written by Pynchon himself for the 1984 publication. The five stories were originally published individually in various literary magazines but in 1984, after Pynchon had achieved greater recognition, "Slow Learner" was published to collect and copyright the stories into one volume. The introduction also offers a rare insight into Pynchon's own views on his work and influences. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (12)

    3-0 out of 5 stars A second-best starting point when it comes to Pynchon
    This is an interesting collection of early stories, but my bet is that those who will enjoy the book most are those people who have already bought into the Pynchon mystique. I'm one of them, to be sure, so I must confess I have enjoyed it. Some of Pynchon's talents are already here on display, but what I miss the most is the irrepressible excess and the dizzying rhythm that characterizes his later prose. Some of the stories seem to flitter and fade, caught up in curiosities that are soon cast away. The settings in which Pynchon displays his talent varies: nineteenth-century espionage, a hurricane that ravages a town in Louisiana, a dysfunctional marriage. Pynchon fans will like some of those odd situations and odd characters, such as the ending of the story "Low-lands," and the psychologist "Geronimo Diaz," from the same story. Of great interest to Pynchon readers will be the opening essay, a blunt and detailed appraisal of the stories: a rare gesture in Pynchon. (I recommend reading it last, by the way, even though it prefaces the collection.) I titled this review "a second-best starting point," and it is because people who read Pynchon for the first time will probably do best to choose "The Crying of Lot 49," in which Pynchon's greatness is already well-formed, but it is encapsulated in a manageable 150 pages (as opposed to the bulkier later work).

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Pynch of early Pynchon
    I agree with other reviewers that the fun of this book lies in Pynchon's thoughts of these early efforts. It made the reading of them much more enjoyable. It also made them seem better then they really were, since I realized they were not to be judged in the same light as his later works. So, the fifth star was for his honesty.

    This is a recommended read for any reader interested in the entire works of Pynchon.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "When are we getting a color TV, Dad?"
    Well I am pleased that I finished another Pynchon work. Having read V., The Crying of Lot 49, and now Slow Learner-I have avoided the gigantic Gravity's Rainbow, which comes after 49 in order, mostly out of intimidation...
    Slow Learner seems to have been produced out of a public interest in Pynchon, perhaps out of the void of 10 years since Rainbow, as something to give us all, ever awed by his labrinthine worlds and layered stories.
    Though made up of five stories written from 1959-1964, and published in the Cornell Writer, New World Writing, the Kenyon Review, The Noble Savage 3 and The Saturday Evening Post, there is a sixth tale, the introduction, in which Pynchon shares his analysis and criticism of his works and his earlier self. It is a terrific piece, and suits the experience by pre-empting the stories' weaknesses with his exposure of them.
    Without going into them I'll just say that I enjoyed the first three very much, The Small Rain, Low-lands and Entropy. Entropy in particular was a layered, manic visceral fiction that manages to incorporate meta-physics with phychology and neurosis. I did not like Under the Rose, as I found it confusing, pre-occupied with itself and it's twists and I couldn't get into it's rhythm and so finished it in bunches. The glaring aspects of his style become annoyances here, the bizarre names, the digressions into the past, elaborate memories...The Secret Integration though is clearly his most mature, skillful work, with a haunting conclusion that resonates deeply.
    I feel the better for reading these works. I know he is a master of sorts, his style and execution are awesome, as well his reputation shrowded in mystery. I recommend this book....

    4-0 out of 5 stars Pleasing, and Unlike Pynchon
    I've read The Crying of Lot 49, as well as material about Pynchon, so expected a tough read, but found this collection of short stories surprisingly light, although the final story was excellent, thoughtful, and moving.As for the introduction, mentioned by someone as the worth of this book, he is nearly right, as it was an absolute pleasure to read, both light and witty; it wa so good that at times I simultaneously laughed and cried.

    3-0 out of 5 stars leave the stories, read the introduction
    pynchon's introduction to these stories is truly top-notch.he talks about being an author, what it is like to mature, and what it is to look back at work that one is soo very far removed from.this all makes for an excellnt read.the stories themselves are, for the most part, forgettable.if you do find yourself with a craving to read one of them, the last one is nearly a fine bit of work, but then, instead of sticking to his guns, pynchon spells out a fact that's already been made clear by character actions, and the story ends up feeling like something meant for middle-schoolers or a reading-comprehension trainer rather than a full short-story.of course, it could be worse.i mean, i guess it could have been printed on poinson ivy or have arsenic in the binding glue. . . ... Read more

    5. Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 784 Pages (2006-10-31)
    list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$10.84
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0143039946
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity’s Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce’s Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.Amazon.com Review
    Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever hegets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (asThomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant openingsentence), "a screaming comes across the sky," heralding an angel of death,a V-2 rocket. The novel's title, Gravity's Rainbow, refers to therocket's vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolizehis promise never to destroy humanity again. History has been a big trick:the plan is to switch from floods to obliterating fire from the sky.

    Slothrop's father was an unwitting part of the cosmic doublecross. Toprovide for the boy's future Harvard education, he took cash from the madGerman scientist Laszlo Jamf, who performed Pavlovian experiments on theinfant Tyrone. Laszlo invented Imipolex G, a new plastic useful in rocketinsulation, and conditioned Tyrone's privates to respond to its presence.Now the grown-up Tyrone helplessly senses the Imipolex G in incoming V-2s,and his military superiors are investigating him. Soon he is on the runfrom legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors ofGermany.

    That's just the Imipolex G tip of the shrieking vehicle that is Pynchon'sbook. It's pretty much impossible to follow a standard plot; one must havefaith that each manic episode is connected with the great plot to blow upthe world with the ultimate rocket. There is not one story, but aproliferation of characters (Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, TantivyMucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more)and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns onlyjust past our comprehension. You will enjoy Pynchon's cartoon inferno farmore if you consult Steven Weisenburger's brief companion to the novel, whichsorts out Pynchon's blizzard of references to science, history, highculture, and the lowest of jokes. Rest easy: there really is a simple reasonwhy Kekulé von Stradonitz's dream about a serpent biting its tail (whichsolved the structure of the benzene molecule) belongs in the same novel asthe comic-book-hero Plastic Man.

    Pynchon doesn't want you to rest easy with solved mysteries, though.Gravity's Rainbow uses beautiful prose to induce an altered state ofconsciousness, a buzz. It's a trip, and it will last. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (323)

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Zeroing in on what incalculable plot?"
    What can I add? Unlike most readers, I worked backward before forward into this novel. I'd read "The Crying of Lot 49" in grad school and "Vineland" on my own, but felt incapable of handling "Gravity's Rainbow." Earlier this year, I finished "Against the Day" after months of grappling with its ambiguities and terrible beauties, and then took on the pleasant if as paranoid "Inherent Vice" and next "V." (I reviewed dutifully if tardily these three recently.)

    So, I followed "GR" with a perspective on most of Pynchon's fiction. Like "V.", this takes us into German South-West Africa's horrors after WWI. As with "AtD," we follow Central Asian and ice-bound oddities around this same revolutionary period. We get sea-creatures and even a glimpse of the L.A. freeways that "Inherent Vice" follows. And, "Vineland" may get but a nod to a throwaway song lyric name-checking Humboldt County, but as with all of Pynchon, an open-ended, unresolved conspiracy perpetrated by an infernal, alien, yet human-entangled System serves to suppress a Counterforce that traps its rebellion within the same lusts for power and wealth that oppress and motivate and fuel evil machinations of our rulers.

    You care about some characters in this WWII epic, and others flit by like cartoons. Horrors add up, as few escape the carnage. Dozens of pages drift pass, data amass into heaps of crushing information, and then, suddenly, illumination flickers and tenderness may beckon--before the plot trundles on over nearly eight-hundred densely packed pages.

    Tyrone Slothrop's frenetic quickies, his search for the rocket launch pad in what was Nazi Germany, his own New England family's story gets submerged into this monstrous "sado-anarchist" narrative. That's the whole point. "Those like Slothrop, with the greatest interest in discovering the whole truth, were thrown back on dreams, psychic flashes, omens, cryptographies, drug-epistemologies, all dancing on a ground of terror, contradiction, absurdity." (592; Penguin ed.)

    The novel's as off-on as any of his. Acclaimed as his best, I'd counter that "AtD" brings more needed humor (and not just silly songs and slapstick hijinks) into the mix, and keeps by its prose variety and global action a better balance between speculation and entertainment, exciting pursuits and recondite discussions. Taking a backwards leap from his later works to "GR," I'd argue that Pynchon extends the promise of the mysterious "V." here, but that he continued to mature as a writer over the next three dozen years that culminated in "AtD" and the calmer, if as altered, states of "IV." Nobody claiming familiarity with (post-)modern fiction ignores "GR." It rises to the same peaks as his other fiction can, but there's a lot of rocket-talk that remains stalled on the launch pad; ascents of its best passages alternate with lengthy languid waiting periods down at a duller Mission Control. This feature distinguishes all his works, and it's what you must accept.

    Pynchon shows us a London evening as "the light from the street lamps comes in through philodendron stalks and fingered leaves arrested in a grasp at the last straining away of sunset, falls a tranquil yellow across the cut-steel buckles at her insteps and streaks on along the flanks and down the tall heels of her patent shoes, so polished as to seem of no color at all past such mild citrus light where it touches them, and they refuse it, as if it were a masochist's kiss." (151)

    Hints of ego-loss, of a "sado-anarchist" strangeness emanating from enigmatic lights and transmitted mystery, permeates this odd tale. There's as always a battle between forces of good and evil, and we live in the smoke of the gray global area. Technology defends itself against deification, blaming the human compulsion. The narrator then intervenes: "We have to look for power sources here, and distribution networks we were never taught, routes of power our teachers never imagined, or were encouraged to avoid . . . we have to find meters whose scales are unknown in the world, draw our own schematics, getting feedback, making connections, reducing the error, trying to learn the real function . . . zeroing in on what incalculable plot?" (530) Advice for anyone tackling the equations and sums that Pynchon proposes.

    A cameo by one Jesuit, Father Rapier, reminds me of "V." with Father Fairing, and the priest warns of what postwar "unity" will do to us, all linked by technology that impels domination and imposes submission. "Devil's Advocate's what the shingle sez, yes inside is a Jesuit here to act in that capacity, here to preach, like his colleague Teilhard de Chardin, against return. Here to say that critical mass cannot be ignored. Once the technical means of control have reached a certain size, a certain degree of being connected one to another, the chances for freedom are over for good. The word has ceased to have meaning." (548) I think of this medium that you and I share to read my thoughts, collected from a book, broadcast here. But under corporate sponsorship, under curious interdiction.

    Such exchanges float up and away, and the story never allows much room for their points to sink or swim amid the insistent tidal wave of words. This can frustrate a reader, but it does prove the need for close attention, for you never know in the narrative when such insights will invade, before they fade again into dense darkness of thousands of surrounding sentences. Resistance seems futile, however, to verbal or ideological assaults against fragile resisters.

    Finally, the story's arc falls as does the rocket's trajectory that arches over this novel. You find, as in "Inherent Vice," that the conspiracy's rigged against you and anyone else who tries to pursue the mystery too far. "Gravity rules all the way out into the cold sphere, there is always the danger of falling." (737) The war ends and we all know who wins, but the true enemies in this novel appear as hidden as those in the rest of Pynchon's strange, encyclopedic, manic, affectionate, and perplexing pages.

    5-0 out of 5 stars If You Only Read One Trans-Genre, WWII, Science-Fact-tion, Literary Heavyweight, Conspiracy-Thriller this Year...
    This is an excerpt from a review originally published at www.unronic.blogpsot.com

    Most of the story takes place in Germany just after World War II. It is based on the historically accurate chase for V2 rocket materials by the Allies dividing up Germany into the pieces that would herald the Cold War. Throughout, this novel is steeped in actual, documented historical facts and quotes, with the amazing fictional side story of a Monty Python style version of James Bond flick. Gratuitous sex, wild parties, deep conspiracies, science fact that seems way more like science fiction, deep, twisted psychology, and a crumbling hero all add up to keep readers drooling for more.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Don't be ashamed to give up
    Whenever I must leave a book on the shelf, not having finished it, I feel somewhat guilty. Should I have tried harder to understand, to enjoy it? But "Gravity's Rainbow" -or "Rainbow's Gravity"? (I won't even bother to check the name)- does not deserve such a feeling, because there is nothing to understand, less nothing to enjoy. I've been carrying it for two weeks, I've started it many times and have reached only page 85. I don't care about the characters (do they have names?), I am not involved in the plot (suposing there is a plot). This piece of arrogant nonsense does not deserve a book review, simply because it is not a book - supposing that a book must be something more than several hundred printed pages and paperback cover. So, I won't write a review, just a piece of good advice: SAVE YOUR MONEY. In case you have made the same mistake as I did, I hope you have a table with a short leg so you will not feel like having wasted your money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lingers Long After "Now Everybody"
    Never has a book led me into a state of consciousness similar to a "trip", with the same unnerving side-effects and life-changing revelations. Read slowly. It's not as hard as you've heard. Just remember A.) that it's hilarious, and B.) it's not a real novel, more like the longest poem ever written.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery, good service
    The book arrived promptly and in the condition it was promised to be in.Very nice. ... Read more

    6. The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Fiction Library)
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-11-07)
    list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$4.06
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 006091307X
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    "The comedy crackles, the puns pop, the satire explodes" praised the New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune agreed: "The work of a virtuoso with prose. . . . His intricate symbolic order [is] akin to that of Joyce's Ulysses." ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (196)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Service
    The first day of the expected delivery date was the 13th, I received my package on the 7th. The product was in mint condition.

    3-0 out of 5 stars 3 ½ stars for literary cleverness
    I have to admit that I wanted to like this novel more than I actually did.It's been a few weeks since I finished The Crying of Lot 49 (I've fallen behind in my book reviewing) and I have to say, I haven't thought about it much (if at all) since - which is never a good thing.A literary work like this is supposed to get inside your head and make you ponder its themes and contemplate its metaphors and consider its subtle nuances.

    For the most part, I found the novel entertaining enough (and it is very short) but its major downfall is that I felt no attachment to any of the characters.Even in a short novel like this, Pynchon manages to introduce dozens of characters who play small roles and then disappear without a trace.As a result, the only character we have any hope of engaging with is our protagonist, Oedipa Maas.Unfortunately I couldn't muster up much interest for her or for the mysterious conspiracy she tries to unravel.

    Still, the Crying of Lot 49 has worthwhile qualities warranting at least 3 stars. The Jacobean revenge play is great, the word play (Pynchon clearly loves his wordplay) is pretty clever, and the novel does have a 1960s hallucinatory vibe going on (& I have a soft spot for hippies).The ending is ambiguous which many readers will find frustrating - but I'm partial to ambiguous endings so it worked for me.

    The book though is more of a literary puzzle than a bona fide story. It's not about entertaining the reader, character development, or even story-telling.It's about literary cleverness and social commentary.It offers reflections on the disconnectedness and isolation of modern society.It explores the notion of language and communication suggesting that much of what we communicate is pointless.It's a novel about absurdity and cultural chaos.From that perspective, it's interesting to read.

    But is this a great novel?Is it an engaging story?Does it introduce us to compelling and memorable characters?

    No, no and not even close.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Crying Game
    "The Crying of Lot 49" is a short post-modern novel set in 1960s California. It traces the attempts of its main character, Oedipa Maas, to discern whether a secretive mail distribution company named Trystero actually exists. Aside from this general plot thrust, it is hard to discern what this novel is about, much in the vein of most post-modern fiction. The story takes many twists and turns, contains several story-within-story narrative developments, and is replete with cultural and social references which range from the extremely obscure to the downright in-your-face ones. Among the latter are the names of several characters - Oedipa Maas, "Mucho" Maas, Genghis Cohen, Dr. Hilarius, Mike Fallopian, etc. This over the top "punning" in my humble opinion cheapens the novel, and rather than making it profound makes it look puerile. It is hard to take seriously characters with such outrageous names, and almost no attempt has been made to make any of them feel human - the characters are just symbols that engage in dialogue with each other. The same holds for the names of cities and towns, many of which are fictional. The book feels very self-indulgent and pretentious, hard to read and not very literary. It is probably one of the most overrated books that I had ever read.

    2-0 out of 5 stars like Seinfeld:it's not about anything!
    This is the kind of book I imagine I would write were I inclined to that profession:1)short; 2) playfully literate (oh, I'm literate, baby!); 3) obscure, as if I'm writing to myself and don't give a toss what you think; and 4) not really about anything, since I have nothing to say!

    That fourth reason there is why I don't try my hand at writing.You heard me right:I have no wisdom, no insights, nothing coherent to say about life, the human condition, or the human heart.Knowing this, I have the grace to not even attempt to enter the contest.

    But I guess Pynchon didn't scruple.I mean, Oedipa Mass's chasing down the enigmatic Trystero organization -- what does it amount to?What does it tell us about ourselves?Or the world?

    When I compare this with even one of Dickens's lesser outings, I conclude that Pynchon is using an abstruse style to smokescreen the fact that, when you get right down to it, he has nothing to say about "the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself," in the words of another difficult writer -- though one whose problematic narrative style holds rich rewards for those patient enough to negotiate it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pleasingly Pedantic Postmodern Prose
    `The Crying of Lot 49' takes us on a winding, convoluted, terrifying roller coaster through a world that seems to be a few steps closer to that of Lewis Carroll's `Alice in Wonderland' than our own. The work itself refuses to be read at a pace any less than how it intends, and that often crazed pace creates a response within the reader of confusion, urgency, and uncertainty, all driven by a maddening obsession that ultimately leads the reader on a journey to search for the truth.

    This piece has a tendency to observe the reader, as if it were self-aware. It sits, patiently knowing it will soon be picked up; it waits to be read through from start to finish in a few short days (or sittings); it waits for the reader to set down the recently pristine paperback. Now riddled with creases and slick with the grime of sweaty palms, it begins to grin as the telltale look of consternation and disbelief cross the reader's face, and, with maniacal glee, for their lips to part and the words to escape, giving voice to all the thoughts you will surely be left with after this book is done.

    'Lot 49' singlehandedly explained a semesters Literary Theory course to me. While I had a lot of trouble specifically defining the purpose of literary criticism most of the course, the amazingly poignant truths that shine through the maddening uncertainty made a very lasting impact on me, and I think they will do so for many people to come. ... Read more

    7. Mason & Dixon: A Novel
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 784 Pages (2004-01-03)
    list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0312423209
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, and major caffeine abuse. We follow the mismatched pair-one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-Romantic-from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revolutionary America and back, through the strange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment's dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented them by the Age of Reason.Amazon.com Review
    A sprawling, complex, and comic work from one of the country'smost celebrated and idiosyncratic authors, Mason & Dixon isThomas Pynchon's Most Magickal reinvention of the 18th-centurynovel. It follows the lifelong partnership and adventures of theEnglish surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (of Mason-DixonLine fame) as they travel the world mapping and measuring through anuncharted pre-Revolutionary America of Native Americans, whitesettlers, taverns, and bawdy establishments of ill-repute. Fans of thepostmodern master of paranoia will recognize Pynchon's personality inthe novel's first phrase: "Snow-Balls have flown theirArcs," a brief echo of the rockets that curve across the skies inthe writer's masterpiece Gravity's Rainbow. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (140)

    3-0 out of 5 stars "Mason and Dixon"
    The book I received did not look new at all. The sides had something on them, I was not 100% satisfied with my purchase. But now I know for next time.

    3-0 out of 5 stars a difficult read
    Had a hard time reading this book by thomas Pynchon.For me it was difficult and had to keep slogging through to finish it.For me the book could have been about half the size and would have been better.I know that this is the style now but for me it just didn't work as well as it could.

    J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"

    2-0 out of 5 stars Love Pynchon, but...
    ...this one had my mind wandering. I am going through all of Pynchon's novels chronologically right now, and this was my least favorite of the bunch.

    Pynchon seems to have 2 stylistic forms: a straightforward narrative (Crying of Lot 49, Vineland) and a multi-layered, semi-rambling complex of plots and sub-plots with numerous characters (V, Gravity's Rainbow). Mason & Dixon obviously falls in the latter category, but falls short IMHO. You don't really care about the characters. It's not as funny. And while he usually ties up just a few loose ends, here almost all the plots and sub-plots are left without endings. Plus the motives for the characters were not as captivating. You care about Tyrone Slothrop and Oedipa Maas because they were put into situations that compelled them (and you) to find out what was going on. Here, Mason & Dixon were assigned a job, so they did it and then went home. I could've seen the same plot on Bob the Builder.

    The writing style was, surprisingly, not a problem for me. Neither was the countless historical references. My love for Pynchon's other books makes me feel I'm missing something, so any comments would be greatly appreciated. I'd suggest getting Crying of Lot 49 first, then Gravity's Rainbow to experience Pynchon at his best.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It was a Pleasure
    A great source to buy a book.An excellent transaction all around - as described and very quick.Thanks.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A Waste of Time
    I read it slow, I reread pages in an effort to understand what was going on.To this day I do not know what the book was about and what was going on.It is a very rare book I will not read until the bitter end but I just had to let it go because it was confusing jumbled and seemed to have no real plot.I have read the other reviews for this book and am amazed by what people saw in it.I thought it was just frustrating and would recommend time better spent doing something else. ... Read more

    8. The Small Rain
    by Thomas Pynchon
    Paperback: 20 Pages (1982-01)
    -- used & new: US$35.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0856520551
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    9. Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow
    by Zak Smith
    Paperback: 784 Pages (2006-12-30)
    list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$23.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0977312798
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    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 Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow, 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.
    ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very good work
    This is the perfect example of how a book should be illustrated. The pictures aren't literal, they're abstract intepretations. It doesn't damage the reader's previous images of the scenes in Gravity's Rainbow, it only adds to them. An exquisite work. Anyone who really likes GR should have this book.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Seller never delivered- will never buy from again.
    This seller indicated that the book was in stock and shipped in 2 days or less. Two weeks later they admitted that they didn't have it and couldn't deliver it. Issued a refund only after intervention from Amazom. I can't say how the book is since I never got it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Clarifying A Mistake
    Mr Apollo is mistaken.The images in this book are printed life-size.The originals are NOT 8.5" X 11".

    Also, in the forums, someone asked what edition of Gr this book lines up with.It lines up with any edition of GR that has the same number of pages (760).

    3-0 out of 5 stars ummm
    Cool art. But too abstract to really "explain" anything. More of just a nice companion for a pynchon nut.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "There's all these cool kinds of pictures!"
    My two sons (Zachary and Alexander) have been saving their allowance and doing extra chores to save money for a Nintendo DS (they save half, my wife & I pay half).This has been a huge deal for them because they each really want one.

    Yesterday, my wife took the boys to a bookstore, and 7 1/2 year old Zach saw Zak Smith's book based on Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow".He could not, would not put it down; he was mesmerized.He's not one to want, want, want, but this, he had to have.He looked at various and sundry art-related books for at least a half hour, and kept coming back to this book.Which was $40.After much discussion and pondering, Zach was resolute:My wife had a $16 credit at the store which she let him use and he kicked in $20 of his $27 to get the book.The point is, he gave up his Gameboy money for an art book.A big deal.He said "You know how interested I am in art, Mom!"

    I've read a bit of Pynchon ("Vineland") but when I've leafed through "Granvity's Rainbow" in the past, I've thought it challenging,circular, dense.Very much like, though not so much as, the uber-interpretive "Finegan's Wake" by James Joyce (referenced, coincidentally, by Zak Smith's book).So at once I was impressed; thumbing through Zach's Zak book, even more so.It IS mesmerizing; page after page of fascinating, provoking, stirring beauty.You can get lost in there.

    Not only do I now have a renewed vigor to tackle "Gravity's Rainbow", but am inspired to have (with Zach's permission) Zak Smith's profoundly astonishing book along for the cerebral roller coaster, a benevolent guide to provide dazzling clues as I navigate the former's intellectually demanding jungle.

    Whether $26.37 or $39.95, worth every penny... ... Read more

    10. A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel
    by Steven C. Weisenburger
    Paperback: 440 Pages (2006-11-01)
    list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$20.31
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0820328073
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    Adding some 20 percent to the original content, this is a completely updated edition of the indispensable guide to Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Steven Weisenburger takes the reader page by page, often line by line, through the welter of historical references, scientific data, cultural fragments, anthropological research, jokes, and puns around which Pynchon wove his story. Weisenburger fully annotates Pynchon's use of languages ranging from Russian and Hebrew to such subdialects of English as 1940s street talk, drug lingo, and military slang as well as the more obscure terminology of black magic, Rosicrucianism, and Pavlovian psychology. The Companion also reveals the underlying organization of Gravity's Rainbow-how the book's myriad references form patterns of meaning and structure that have eluded both admirers and critics of the novel.

    The Companion is keyed to the pages of the principal American editions of Gravity's Rainbow: Viking/Penguin (1973), Bantam (1974), and the special, repaginated Penguin paperback (2000) honoring the novel as one of twenty "Great Books of the Twentieth Century." ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (17)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Necessary
    No one can claim to have fully understood Gravity's Rainbow in a single read, and differently from other books, not even in three, four or five reads.
    This books is there to help you grasp meanings and concepts metaphors and references you missed, all interpreted with exquisite ability, so that anyone interested truly in the essence of Gravity's Rainbow as one of the masterpieces of the 20th century should have this book in hand.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Full of Spoilers.
    Why does Weisenburger decide to randomly drop spoiler after spoiler into his annotations? The companion was extremely helpful but the first time I read GR I realized I had to hide this companion about halfway through the novel. I cannot figure out why when describing a simple German phrase (adequately and with illuminating context to the specific situation, mind you) Weisenburger surrenders plot points that don't surface until the last part of the novel. It ended up happening almost every other episode. It was infuriating. So beware. Probably wait until your second time through to use this useful but endlessly frustrating companion.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Look for the 2nd edtion
    There are two editions of this book.The first was published in 1988.The second was published November of this year (2006).It contains twenty percent additional material and some corrections.Double-check.Both editions have identical titles but the covers differ.

    3-0 out of 5 stars The worst companion except for all the others
    So you've decided to try and tackle GR.The novel is certainly worth the time and frustration that can sometimes accompany reading it.As far as this companion goes, I usually had it with me while reading GR but certainly did not feel lost without it.The problem is that while Weissenburger does a lot to explain the myriad historical allusions contained within GR, there is very little in the way of literary analysis or deep engagement with any of the interesting ideas and themes.(By contrast, J. Kerry Grant's companion to Lot 49 does a much better job in this respect.)I imagine one could always read the abundance of essays on GR to get such information, and Weissenburger is only a mere mortal.But still, I would have appreciated a companion that was slightly more provocative than one that simply points out references to a type of pudding traditionally eaten by soliders in the Crimean War (not an actual reference in the book, so purists lay off).In other words, the companion sometimes helps make sense of things or provides a few interesting points, but does little to truly enrich your appreciation of the novel as a whole.

    If you're on the fence, I would still recommend buying the companion, especially if you can find a used copy.But don't feel that this is indispensable or anything.It's flawed but, unfortunately, for the time being it seems to be the best there is.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Yer gonna need this
    Yep. Very well put together collection of stuff you'll need -- even if you think you don't -- to get through Gravity's Rainbow proper. Sure you can fly solo, naked, hungry ... but this gives you a bit of support as you swim through. Just a few pivots and landings to catch your breath. Although not essential, it can help. Fer sher. ... Read more

    11. Grim Phoenix: Reconstructing Thomas Pynchon
    by W.M. Plater
     Hardcover: 288 Pages (1978-09)
    list price: US$17.50 -- used & new: US$194.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0253326702
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Customer Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Well-Executed Study
    Critics have found Thomas Pynchon's fiction to be as inaccessible as the reclusive author himself.Resistant as Pynchon's art is to definition, Plater has produced an objective, intelligent study of Pynchon's primary motifs, without the pretense of subjective interpretation.He examines the following antheses:illusion/reality, life/death, and order/disorder, all outgrowths of Pynchon's more basic application of thermodynamic principle (entropy and the closed system) to social phenomena.He examines these themes as they emerge throughout the full body of Pynchon's work, thus suggesting its multiplexity.This well-executed study isolates and clarifies the essence of Pynchon's otherwise elusive style.Students of contemporary literature will profit from it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant multidisciplinary analysis
    William M. Plater, a respected Indiana academician and college dean, gives an amazing analysis of Pynchon's fiction up to and including Gravity's Rainbow (the book was written before Vineland and Mason & Dixon) usingnot only literary references, but philosophical, mathematical,sociological, and mythological as well.He references Pynchon back to someof his own source material such as The Education of Henry Adams andWittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.He delves not so much intothe structure of Pynchon's dense prose, but the reasons behind it, theideas behind it, and where Pynchon resides in the mental and literarylandscape.Plater outlines the major themes of Pynchon's fiction (eg,death transfigured, paranoia, reality and its projected image) and weavesthem into a very readable and thought-provoking examination of the greatestAmerican writer of the latter 20th century and certainly the archetype ofpostmodernism.If you read Pynchon, you should also read Plater. ... Read more

    12. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (Twentieth-Century Classics)
    by Richard Farina
    Paperback: 352 Pages (1996-05-01)
    list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.30
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140189300
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Farina evokes the Sixties as precisely, wittily, and poignantly as F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the Jazz Age. The hero, Gnossus Pappadopoulis, weaves his way through the psychedelic landscape, encountering among other things mescaline, women, art, gluttony, falsehood, science, prayer, and, occasionally, truth.Amazon.com Review
    This is the ultimate novel of college life during the firsthallucinatory flowering of what has famously come to be known as TheSixties. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me followshaunted ur-hippy Gnossos Pappadopoulis upon return to his olduniversity town that's just tilting into a new era, and Gnossos'involvement in a swirl of sixties-style drug taking and the search forlove and the meaning of it all. It is a hilarious and haunting book. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (42)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic
    It is, in its way, a classic story that transfers very nicely to anyone who is in the academy, or knows someone who is headed there. The comic absurdity is timeless. Should be tucked into the backpacks of everyone headed off to campus.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Revisiting an old friend
    I first read this book when it was newly published and I was young. To follow Richard's thoughts again after 40+ years brought back much; memories, hopes, joys and fears.
    Is it still pertinent to everyday living after all this time? For myself the answer is yes.
    Perhaps only so because I remember and realise all the things my generation attempted to begin or to change in that world and time.
    A few at which we succeeded and many at which we failed.
    But even now I continue to beleive that to attempt something and fail is far better than never attempting at all.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You Had to Want to be There
    I agree with many of the foregoing reviews. So many things are experienced by us at just the right time in our lives. For me, in my late teen years (okay, maybe 20), "Been Down So Long..." came along with perfect timing. After reading it, I remember feeling empowered, as if I could rule the world. What a character was Gnossos and what great scenes he caused and was thrust into.

    I rarely re-read a novel, but I read Farina's book three times.

    I must admit, sadly, that the third reading, a couple of decades after the first one, did not have the same effect on me. And I am sad that it didn't, that I was no longer the person I was in 1968 and that the magic of Farina's prose and characterization had faded a bit.

    But this book may, indeed, be coming along at the right time for you, and I hope it does. It's worth the chance and I highly recommend it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars It Had It's Time
    This book, in conjunction with many others, was important to me as my mind underwent some desperately needed expansion in the sixties.As a social tool it had real value.Now, however, it must sink or swim on its artistic merit.Of which it has very little.There are funny spots but there are also goodly hunks of just plain garbage.Consider even the structural aspect that Gnossos is purported to be quite intelligent, ponders math equations, gets great grades and all that.But Farina should have known that neither he nor anyone else can sustain a character that is more intelligent than is the author himself.Which in this case dooms Gnossos to mediocrity.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia isn't what it used to be
    For maximum enjoyment of this book, I suggest that you read it in 1968 when you are 17 years old.You will think it's hip, relevant and revelatory.

    Those forced to read it in dreary 2008, however, may find its charms drifting right over their head.What to make of the paragoric Pall Mall, women's dorm curfews, the "rucksack"?

    Even now, however, it's valuable as an anthropological exploration of the dawn of the Sixties, when young adults, who had up until then been dismissed as children whose lives had no read impact on the world of adults began to see themselves as movers and shakers in the wide world.The narcissism, the inherent sexism, and the naive belief of the youth movement that they had discovered what no generation before them had ever known may be cringe-inducing now, but if you were there, it may bring back the ugly truth about an era that we now view through rose-colored glasses.

    ... Read more

    13. Thomas Pynchon (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
    Hardcover: 322 Pages (2003-05)
    list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$15.19
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0791074455
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    Editorial Review

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    More than any other living American novelist, Thomas Pynchon demands comparison with the likes of Joyce, Kafka, and Conrad. Pynchon draws on the entire history of Western culture as he questions its ideas of order. This text has been revised and expanded to include essays on Vineland and Mason & Dixon.

    This title, Thomas Pynchon, part of Chelsea House Publishers’ Modern Critical Views series, examines the major works of Thomas Pynchon through full-length critical essays by expert literary critics. In addition, this title features a short biography on Thomas Pynchon, a chronology of the author’s life, and an introductory essay written by Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University. ... Read more

    14. Entropy
    by Thomas PYNCHON
    Paperback: 16 Pages (1983)

    Asin: B000ILF1HI
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    15. Approaches to Teaching Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 and Other Works (Approaches to Teaching World Literature)
    by Thomas H. Schaub
    Hardcover: 195 Pages (2008-05-01)
    list price: US$37.50 -- used & new: US$34.34
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0873528131
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Product Description
    As teachers well know, the elements that make Thomas Pynchon exciting to read and study—the historical references, the multilayered prose, and the postmodern integration of high and low cultures and science and literature—often constitute hurdles to undergraduate and graduate readers alike. The essays gathered in this volume turn these classroom challenges into assets, showing instructors how to make the narratives' frustration of reader expectations not only intellectually rewarding but also part of the joy of reading The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon, and other Pynchon works, short and long.

    Like all volumes in the Approaches to Teaching series, the collection opens with a survey of original and supplementary materials. The essays that follow offer an array of classroom techniques: among them, ways to contextualize the novels in their historical settings, from Puritan America through World War II and the volatile 1960s; to use the texts to explore racial and gender politics and legacies of colonialism; and to make Pynchon's elaborate prose style accessible to students. Teachers will also find sample syllabi for courses solely on Pynchon as well as suggestions for incorporating his work into graduate and undergraduate classrooms at a range of institutions. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Filled with essays explaining classroom techniques
    While entertaining and incredibly thought provoking, the works of Thomas Pynchon can be very draining to study. "Approaches to Teaching Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 and Other Works" is a literary teacher's guide to teaching Pynchon's literature and without driving students insane over the endless complexities and references. Filled with essays explaining classroom techniques, "Approaches to Teaching Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 and Other Works" is highly recommended for college library literary studies collections.
    ... Read more

    16. Low-Lands
    by Thomas Pynchon
     Paperback: 32 Pages (1978)

    Isbn: 0856520349
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    17. Thomas Pynchon: Reading from the Margins
    Hardcover: 256 Pages (2003-01)
    list price: US$43.50 -- used & new: US$43.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0838639542
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    18. The Teachings of Don B.: Satires, Parodies, Fables, Illustrated Stories, and Plays of Donald Barthelme
    by Donald Barthelme
    Paperback: 384 Pages (2008-01-28)
    list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$3.90
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1593761740
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    A Batman episode slowed to soap-opera speed; a game of baseball played by T. S. Eliot and Willem de Kooning; an illustrated account of a scientific quest for God. These imaginative riffs on reality could only have been generated by the brilliant bad boy of American letters, Donald Barthelme. Here, 63 rare short works by Barthelme — satires and gables, plays for stage and radio, and collages — have been assembled in a single volume. Gleeful, melancholy, erudite, and wonderfully subversive, The Teachings of Don B. is sure to alter any reader’s consciousness.
    ... Read more

    19. Understanding Thomas Pynchon (Understanding Contemporary American Literature)
    by Robert D. Newman
    Paperback: 155 Pages (1986-10-01)
    list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$21.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0872494861
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    20. Pynchon and the Political (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
    by Samuel Thomas
    Hardcover: 214 Pages (2007-09-14)
    list price: US$108.00 -- used & new: US$90.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0415956463
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    Editorial Review

    Product Description
    Thomas Pynchon's writing has been widely regarded as an exemplary form of postmodern fiction. It is characterized as genre-defying and enigmatic, as a series of complex and esoteric language games. This study attempts to demonstrate, however, that an oblique yet compelling sense of the "political" Pynchon disappers all too easily under the mantle of postmodernity. Innovative and unsettling discussions of freedom, war, labor, poverty, community, democracy, and totalitarianism are passed over in favor of constrictive scientific metaphors and theoretical play. Against this current, this study analyzes Pynchon's fiction in terms of its radical dimension, showing how it points to new directions in the relationship between the political and the aesthetic. ... Read more

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