version's Thomas Pynchon masterclass

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
OK. So. Shall we give this a whirl? I'm going to read GR again, starting tonight. It confused he hell out of me the first time around, which I guess is the point.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I read it a year ago it's too soon for me to go round again but I should be able to remember it at least.
 

catalog

Well-known member
I read it ages ago, really enjoyed it. I clipped loads of quotes from it, should be able to find em and play along
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
OK well this can be more for version's general musings on Pynchon if we want to keep that thread for GR chat.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Wasn't trying to say this thread is invalid just liked the coincidence that it was a year ago
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I've read Gravity's Rainbow, V, Vineland, Crying of Lot 49, Bleeding Edge and Inherent Vice... I think that's it. I also started Mason and Dixon and was enjoying it a lot until I left it on a bus or something.

I would rank as follows, from worst to best....

Bleeding Edge - what the fuck was he thinking?

Inherent Vice - bit of fun but nothing more, verges on kooky or even wacky at times, that's not a good thing

V - huge jump in quality from the previous two here - but book is dense and nerdy without quite enough vim or even brio to elevate it off the ground

Vineland - I think maybe the first one I read and I enjoyed it a lot, it was all new to me; exciting, funny, weird, clever, thanates

Crying of Lot 49 - really good book that somehow pulls off the impossible trick of packing in as many ideas as his other books despite being only 4 pages long. Paranoia, conspiracies, twisty-turny stuff, that hilarious play called The Courier's Tragedy or something which at the time almost made me cry with laughter, a great mysterious logo - I don't really remember this book well but I remember enjoying it a lot

Gravity's Rainbow - big book with big ideas but also loads and loads of little ones, countless locations and digressions that are worth digressing to (the white lodge or mansion or whatever, the lightbulb that lasts forever etc), world war two, madness - the only slight disappointment for me is the way that Slothrop fails to really convince as anything - I dunno if he's supposed to be merely a cipher - an axle the events revolve around - or what but I feel that cos he turns up in some of the other books Pynchon maybe thinks that he has created a more interesting character than he actually has - though strangely, cos of the unusual nature and structure of the novel and its sheer scope it doesn't matter half as much as you might think... and also there is a badly misjudged scene about weird sweets which is supposed to be funny but more made me cringe. That doesn't sound important perhaps but it comes near the start and it almost put me off cos I think sense of humour is way of telling if you're on the same wavelength.

Mason and Dixon, I had only just started and I guess it had like 850 pages in which to go wrong, but from the start it was looking very promising. A shame I lost it, at that point in my life I seemed to lose a lot of books... almost every time I went on a bus or sat down on a bench or whatever I seemed to be halfway through the journey and think "hang on a minute, wasn't i reading a book a minute ago?". Very disappointing cos I normally buy books from charity shops (not always but I find it a nice thing to do; you never know what you'll get, there's a really interesting and random choice and they are unbelievably cheap, you can walk out with an artwork... a masterpiece maybe and it costs less than a can of coke, it's crazy) and if you do that you can never really rely on easily replacing something if you lose it or destroy it or whatever, unless it's 50 Shades of Grey or Wolf Hall or Twilight or something by Bill Bryson... well, there are quite a lot of things that are in every single one but that doesn't matter cos there are loads of things that just pop up and make them interesting. But I digress. I should get back to Mason and Dixon some time, or perhaps I've read enough of this guy.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I'd go along with that ranking except I might swap v and Vineland also have not read any of M&D
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
the only slight disappointment for me is the way that Slothrop fails to really convince as anything - I dunno if he's supposed to be merely a cipher - an axle the events revolve around - or what but I feel that cos he turns up in some of the other books Pynchon maybe thinks that he has created a more interesting character than he actually has...
Slothrop's only in GR.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I'd rank them,

1) Gravity's Rainbow
2) Mason & Dixon
3) V.
4) The Crying of Lot 49
5) Inherent Vice
6) Bleeding Edge
7) Vineland

And I haven't read Against the Day or Slow Learner yet. His nonfiction's decent too.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
In fairness (Luka - and Version in fact) I just read through that again and wondered if maybe I was a little bit hard on V, it's a long time since I read it and I remember very little - is that the one with characters called Stencil and Eigenvalue?

Slothrop's only in GR.
Is that right? I thought that he was mentioned in passing in at least one of the other novels. Maybe I'm getting mixed up. That certainly happens with Pig Modine... doesn't it?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
In fairness (Luka - and Version in fact) I just read through that again and wondered if maybe I was a little bit hard on V, it's a long time since I read it and I remember very little - is that the one with characters called Stencil and Eigenvalue?
Yeah, Stencil's one of the two main characters and Eigenvalue's a dentist he visits.
Is that right? I thought that he was mentioned in passing in at least one of the other novels. Maybe I'm getting mixed up. That certainly happens with Pig Modine... doesn't it?
Yeah, there are a bunch of characters who overlap: Pig Bodine and his ancestors are in a fair few of them, Weissmann/Blicero and Kurt Mondaugen are in both V. and GR, Mucho Maas is in Lot 49 and Vineland and there are a bunch of others too. Not Slothrop though. He fragments toward the end of GR and doesn't really exist anymore.
 
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Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Interestingly, I saw Rich's ranking, thought about my own order, and came up with something that ended up being very similar to Version's:
1) Mason & Dixon
2) Gravity's Rainbow
3) Crying of Lot 49
4) V
5) Inherent Vice
6) Against the Day
7) Vineland

Although really I'd split it into tiers, with Mason & Dixon, GR, Crying and V being basically pretty great and Against the Day and Vineland as having some great bits and some bits that wound me up. My main issue with Vineland is that it concerns itself with asking how the 60s counterculture had its obvious revolutionary potential diffused and subverted, which kind of requires you to buy into the reality of the revolutionary potential of the 60s counterculture more than I normally do. Against the Day just seemed to have crapper-than-usual female characters. Inherent Vice, the excluded middle, sits to the side a bit - it seems to set its sights lower than the others, but delivers more convincingly than Against the Day or Vineland.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I've only read V and GR, but they're both so dense I think it'll be good to read both again before tackling any of the others.

He's still alive, isn't he? Dude must be about a hundred or something.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
Lists look fairly similar... GR and L49 near the top... Bleeding Edge and Inherent Vice near the bottom... V and Vineland floating around.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Actually just looked again... seems like Vineland is bottom according to everyone but me. But the rest stands. Consensus?
 
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