Re: RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post

From: sonny (
Date: 09 Aug 2009

  • Next message: sonny: "RARA-AVIS: this was mentioned here not long ago (in a previous incarnation)"

    i agree, but am confused by some numbers you mention. why 1955? V was published in '63. and the 1%? pynchon sells 3 million copies of his books?

    --- On Sun, 8/9/09, Patrick King <> wrote:

    From: Patrick King <> Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post To: Date: Sunday, August 9, 2009, 12:29 PM

    A lot of the issue with Pynchon is that he consistently insists on giving the reading public an experience they don't expect. The average American expects a book or movie to tell a story with a beginning, middle & end. They expect to feel passionately and consistently about specific characters. They expect the temporal element to be consecutive.

    Pynchon offers funny characters with metaphorical names in amusing and exciting setting. Then he'll introduce a new character to the others, and suddenly the narrative travels back in time to the era of the new character's great grandfather and will stay there for 20 pages until an element, literally sometimes earth, air, fire, or water, carries the story back to its original position. He'll do this 100 times in the course of one book. Many things the readers have been taught to think about in a certain light, Pynchon reflects in a different light. Alchemy, biophysics, sociology, family therapy, ritual magic, and dozens of other subjects pass across his pages and are reflected for his readers in ways they are not used to or prepared for.

    Americans are not known for their relaxed and open-minded points of view. We've come to want what we want and want it now. But Pynchon, too, is a product of America. He is only going to give us what he wants to say in the way he wants to say it. He is not lured by celebrity or sales. None of his books are yet available on Kindle and only 3 are available as books on tape. None of his books have ever been made into a movie although his writing style is cinematic. He simply doesn't care. He knows he has a faithful and growing group of readers who buy his books in hard cover without dickering and he can live, I imagine pretty well, on that market share.

    Stylistically, I suppose, we could compare him to Vonnegut, Brautigan, Tom Robbins, or even Doug Adams. All of whom were probably influenced by him, and all of whom are niche writers. The main stream rolls their eyes at all of them.

    If you're interested in making a living making a point, you really don't need mass acceptance. If 1% of the population catches on, you'll be fine. Pynchon has held that 1% since 1955.

    Patrick King
    --- On Sat, 8/8/09, Steve Novak <> wrote:

    From: Steve Novak <> Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post To: "RARA-AVIS" <> Date: Saturday, August 8, 2009, 6:59 PM



    It may be strange but understandable given the general critical

    apparatus/premises in place both in the media and in academia...Generali ties

    being what they are, this maybe a silly statement but...I find this

    reluctance to accept him logical, if inexcusable. ..a bit like when you

    mention Auster to crime stories critics or the literary media at large in

    his own takes years/decades for things to evolve in onešs own



    On 8/8/09 6:17 PM, "jacquesdebierue" <jacquesdebierue@> wrote:

    > I have to second this. Ever since I ran into a used copy of V., I became a

    > total fan of Pynchon. Why so much hostility has been heaped upon him is a

    > mystery to me. The same goes for another favorite, the late William Gaddis.

    > Sometimes I think that the critics are a bunch of unimaginative squares...

    > They can't just laugh at the Rev. Cherrycoke, like they are supposed to --

    > instead, they have to go and talk about paranoia and the sublimatory dialogic

    > of obfuscative meaning!


    > I think Mason & Dixon ranks among the ten best American novels of the 20th

    > century. It's even better than Gravity's Rainbow.


    > Why the hostility in his own country against a brilliant writer who has

    > nothing to prove and who has stuck to his work without messing with anybody?

    > It's very strange.


    > mrt

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