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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A dynamic duo tackle Pynchon

Well heck, you didn't expect me to run a photo of Thomas Pynchon, did you?

Michael Johnson and Peter Quadrino have jointly released two blog posts that focus on Thomas Pynchon's epic novel Gravity's Rainbow. I have never read the novel (or any Pynchon) but their pieces convince me I am overdue. (I tend to like ambitious novelists, so I've thought for a long time that I need to check out Pynchon.

Both discuss Timothy Leary's fascination with the novel; Michael focuses more on Leary, while PQ offers more of an overview. Do read both pieces.

A soundbite from PQ: ... it was unanimously selected for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction yet ultimately rejected because of a passage involving coprophilia. So turned off by the perversions of Pynchon, the Pulitzer board elected to give the prize for fiction to nobody. The Pulitzer board described the novel as "unreadable", "turgid", "overwritten" and "obscene" and, after reading the book, I can't help but agree wholeheartedly with each of those adjectives, though I certainly did enjoy the experience overall.

A bit from Michael Johnson: Pynchon's erudition is on the level of Joyce, but his bend toward scientific knowledge seems particularly impressive. Robert Anton Wilson writes, "Pynchon shows considerable knowledge of information theory and other scientific matters generally ignored by the literary intelligentsia. In [Gravity's Rainbow] he uses calculus and quantum mechanics in the way Joyce used Homer in Ulysses."

In an alternate world, one where I've won the lottery and I'm super rich, I bribe these two guys to write about Vladimir Nabokov .... or at least Pale Fire. Or maybe get them to write about Richard Powers?

A rare photo of the reclusive blogger Peter Quadrino. 


Eric Wagner said...

Great post. You have the power. Bob Wilson loved Pale Fire. You could start a Pale Fire read through here when we finish Illuminatus! Perhaps Michael and Peter will join us.

PQ said...

I'd love to join a Pale Fire read-through.

Also, thanks for blowing my cover Tom!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Eric So excited that RAW loved my favorite Nabokov!

michael said...

I'd read Pale Fire. Thanks for the nod to PQ and OG.

Pynchon supposedly took a class Nabokov taught at Cornell; Nabokov said he didn't remember Pynch, but Nabokov's wife, who helped Vlad grade papers said she remembered TP's weird mixture of cursive and printing.