Many thanks to Jim Ruland for providing the content for Pynchon Week.
It’s always exciting when a major novelist releases a new work; but when that novelist is Thomas Pynchon it is a rare and beautiful thing, a cause for celebration. Pynchon occupies a place in the literary zeitgeist that is unique in American letters. The breadth and scope of his novels surpass anything most reasonable novelists would even attempt and his intellect is outpaced only by his imagination. No one questions his Promethean talents, but we don’t quite know what to do with him either. He is, perhaps, the only literary genius this country has ever produced.
Two of the obstacles that confront the reader interested in summiting Mt. Pynchon are his reputation for writing difficult, encyclopedic books and his inaccessibility as a literary recluse. Make no mistake: he is difficult and he is a recluse, but for those who don’t fully engage his works that’s all he is. These hurdles don’t deter serious readers from delving into his books so much as distract them from considering what the books are actually about. A reader interested in offbeat approaches to early American history who might be predisposed toward a book like Mason & Dixon, for example, has to sift through a lot of noise before they encounter an appreciation of the novel and its merits.
That’s what you’ll find here this week: considerations of Pynchon’s work, not more commentary on the mythology surrounding the man and his motives. There’ll be reflections, reviews, discussions with people with unusual approaches to the books, and if we can rustle up a ukulele and a kazoo, we may even break into song. All together now…