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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A double take on Pynchon’s latest

    You may not know it, but you are living through a monumental event in literature. Acclaimed author Thomas Pynchon ‘s newest novel is reinventing what a novel can be.

    This tour de force of fantastical social commentary, witty historical references, encyclopedic knowledge and complex characterization may pop all over the place, but it promises to be the most rewarding read of the last 20 years. For the arduous task of reviewing it, we put two Wildcat writers to the test and gave them the book for a little while. Here’s what they had to say:

    ‘Against the Day’ an absorbing read

    Pynchon is quite obviously a fan of commas; he can turn one sentence into an entire paragraph via these arcing grammatical marks. He has much to say and does so succinctly, arranging words like the images of a ribbon-dancer’s sword.

    The prominent use of adjectives and detailed descriptions, combined with loose definitions of the obscure words Pynchon is fond of using, gives the reader a chance to interpret the plot to a larger extent. For example, I believe that the story begins with the Chums of Chance, a band of aeronauts who drive an airship-gondola called “”Inconvenience”” and are heading toward the World’s Fair.

    The story is funny in its absurdity – it also includes a dog that reads prodigiously – and is quite honestly a simple read if you’re interested in a 1,085-page book (as I’ll assume everyone is).

    – Alexandria Kassman

    Hard to take Pynchon seriously

    Reading the new Thomas Pynchon is very much like reading the old Pynchon. It’s impressive without being likable.

    I’m torn. While I admire Pynchon’s convoluted, Germanic, playfully pompous yet somehow dazzlingly lyrical prose style to bits – “”Wherever it was he stepped to had its own vast incomprehensible history, its perils and ecstasies, its potential for unannounced romance and early funerals.”” – I’ve only got limited patience for his sense of humor. It’s hard to care about a character who’s being painted in a manner more suited to a 1974 issue of MAD magazine (“”‘Heaven, hell,’ cackled Merle Rideout.””).

    I’ve never made it all the way through Pynchon’s 1973 masterwork, “”Gravity’s Rainbow,”” but I’m a big admirer of his cutting short novel “”The Crying of Lot 49.”” Maybe Pynchon, like frozen yogurt, is only delectable in small doses. He could take a lesson from that other famous recluse, J.D. Salinger, who knew when to put down his pen.

    – Justyn Dillingham

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