The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon is one of those people who shows up on a lot of lists of influential modern authors. My tastes are somewhat antiquated, so I have to read one of these trendy authors occasionally to remind myself what century I was born in. Pynchon also has a reputation for incomprehensibility, so it’s actually a pleasant surprise that this is a pretty solid read, with medium-weirdshit and a conspiracy theory. A modern erudite conspiracy-theory story always reminds me in a certain way of Foucault’s Pendulum, although I’ll admit that this is stylistically very much its own thing. The writing captures a certain frantically futuristic SoCalism: the same kind which drove, say, The Gold Coast and Snow Crash, albeit much earlier and in a much more literary mode. It definitely captured my attention and hit a lot of my sweet spots (both the style and subject matter), but at the same time, I’m not sure this is representative of either modern American literature or Pynchon in particular. But, then again, that might be a good thing, from an enjoyment standpoint.

A side note of some interest: I was reading a copy from the UofL library, which had been heavily annotated by one party, and lightly annotated by at least two others. Sometimes the annotators got into arguments. I don’t write in books, and I really don’t approve of writing in library books, but there was a certain delicious metatextuality in watching graffiti and annotations being threadeded together in the story on the page while the same thing was happening in the margins.

See also: Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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