Monday, July 23, 2012

The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Pynchon (1937-)

I basically had no idea what was going on throughout the entirety of this book...somewhat like the protagonist Oedipa Mass.

Oedipa becomes an executor of the will of a one time lover and finds herself lost within a web of mystery that seems to involve the unearthing of a centuries-old conflict between rival mail distribution outfits. There is a secret symbol that keeps appearing and leading her further into the bowels of the mystery only to finally reveal its never ending depth. Is everyone she's ever met a part of the intrigue? Is it all a practical joke? As she makes her way from one lead to the next she leaves a trail of missing links behind her, while slowly the men she comes in contact with either take their own lives or spontaneously go insane leaving her more and more isolated with no one to turn to and no answers for her endless questions.

This book has been described as a great example of postmodern writing and I picked up on that pretty quickly. There is no real concept of truth, rather its searching for truth or meaning in the rubble of endless interpretation and infinite possibility. The book ends without closure leaving the reader to determine Oedipa's truth for her. Was it all just a practical joke or as the curtain closes do we envision her on the cusp of enlightenment?

Thank god this book was only a 180 pages. Unfortunately there are another 2 Pynchon books left on the I might need to spread them out to one every 5 years or so. Pynchon is not my favorite author by a long shot, again like Oedipa, I felt like someone was playing a practical joke on me. His writing style is brisk and staccato. No poetry. No terrifically executed sentences. Just incredibly hard to follow mazes of text, with plays within plays and references within references.

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