Thomas Pynchon, in my opinion, is the greatest of all American novelists. Gravity's Rainbow gets my vote as the greatest American novel. I would love for Pynchon to win the Nobel Prize so we could see who he would send in his place to make the acceptance speech. I first read The Crying of Lot 49 just before Gravity's Rainbow was published in 1973. I was completely mesmerized by Gravity's Rainbow and I read it back to back several times in a row. It is the book I have read the most times. I have a first edition of it that would have some value were it not totally ready to fall apart. I know this is a commentary on my state of mind in 1973 as much as anything else but I have read GR times over the decades since then several times and my opinion of it goes up as time goes on. I would for sure put it among the top ten novels of all time.
|"If you need to reach me, use|
W A S T E"-Carmilla
I like it for its description of American culture in the 1960s. I like the character of Oedipa Mass and how she discovers a whole alternative America. I love the account of alternative postal systems and their histories. I enjoyed the Elizabethan tragedy about postal systems. I like how Oedipa comes to find huge groups of "outsiders" communicating with each other via the W A S T E system. I stand ready to wait for silent Tristero's empire to rise again.
Parts of The Crying of Lot 49 have helped me to understand better the work of Desmond Hogan, an author I greatly admire and have been reading a lot lately.
I would recommend The Crying of Lot 49 as a first Pynchon. The story is pretty linear. The prose is not that dense. If you like this book I would say dive into Gravity's Rainbow, it is not as hard as people say. It is in part, x rated is my only warning on it.
I will, I think, shortly reread V, Pynchon's first novel.
Please share your experience with Pynchon with us.