The Year Of Living Pynchonesquely

This is the year of the Pynchon. I am going to finish his oeuvre (serves him right, some of you may say!) by the end of the year -- and stay sane! I hope.

Last year E@L battled the distraction of Phuket to complete Gravity's Rainbow and won, sorta, if finishing it can be called winning. (Woo, some sarcasm there, big boy!) Currently I am coming to the end of Vineland. - a relatively easy read, if you don't think about half the things he mentions, and certainly don't think about them deeply! It's not as bad as the talking light-bulb sequence in GR, but WTF with the smuggled parrots who recite Bolivian folk stories and fables? Don't even go there. Bolivia, I mean. Nasty place. Where Bol-Weevils come from.

Instead of the traditional repertoire of short, often unrelated phrases, the parrots could tell full-length stories -- of humorless jaguars and mischief-seeking monkeys, mating competitions and displays, the coming of humans and the disappearance of the trees -- so becoming necessary members of households, telling bedtime stories to years of children, sending them off to alternate worlds in a relaxed and upbeat set of mind, though after a while the kids were dreaming landscapes that might have astonished even the parrots.

Fantastic realism invades post-modernism.

This is a Hardcover© 1st Edition (the England publishing region) I picked up for like $2 at some remainder sale in West Wyalong in 1991. Must be worth at least that again by now, just for the penicillin on the moldy pages.

It's another weird trip, for sure, but the mystery of who or what drives the bad guys keeps you reading. I'm finding it more lighter-hearted than many other "America is a piece of shit full of union-busting, racist, hippy-head-kicking conspiracies" tomes. The jokey style is more reminiscent of the tone of The Crying of Lot 49. In fact, Wendell (Mucho) Maas himself, from that earlier book, even puts in a cameo.

You can almost tell what is going on, and where. This is an amazing leap for Pynchon.

And I can't help but picture Jeff Bridges doing his Big Lebowski 'Dude' persona as Zoyd Wheeler, the plate(sugar)-glass transfenestrator and spaced out father of Prairie and ex-husband of mysteriously attractive ex-hippy film-maker Frenesi (at its core the book revolves around her, or at least her miniskirt) who was shacked up with Flash while hyper-obsessed Brock Vond was using her undercover as sex-bait in FBI set-ups until Reagan budget cuts left her in the lurch and on the run from just about everybody...

Oh my God, look what the seventies of Nixon and eighties of Reagan did to the spirit of the sixties seems to be the overriding theme... Parallels the 'Oh my God, look what the sixties are doing to the fifties' theme of CoL49! There are sell-outs and freak-outs and drop-outs and drop-back-ins. The Vineland of the title appears to be the last bastion of hippy culture left in California.

And there are some scary prophetics from back in the late eighties when Pynchon wrote this of the seventies:

Mucho blinked sympathetically, a little sadly. "I guess it's over. We're into a new world now, it's the Nixon Years, then it'll be the Reagan Years --"
"Ol' Raygun? No way he'll ever make president."
"Just go careful, Zoyd,. 'Cause soon they're going to be coming after everything, not just drugs, but beer, cigarettes, sugar, salt, fat, you name it, anything that could remotely please any of your senses, because they need to control all that. And they will."
"Fat Police?"
"Perfume Police. Tube Police. Music Police. Good Healthy Shit Police. Best to renounce everything now, get a head start."


In related incidents: Recently Vegemite was (allegedly) banned in America because it contain naturally occurring folic acid. Folic acid has to be licensed to be added to food to prevent potential overdoses! Does this mean too much spinach could be bad for you? (Turns out to be another hoax, there was no ban on Vegemite.)

Pastry cooks can't use butter because it may contain an amount of naturally occurring trans-fats while margarine which is essentially a large clump of trans-fat is legal, though it won't get the much vaunted "NO TRANS-FAT" label. This is not a hoax [Register you lazy pricks!]. Do not adjust your cookie, it has been adjusted for you.


OK, there's still Mason & Dixon and Against the Day sitting heavily unread on the bookshelf at home. By the end of the year, they'll be read. Big task - 2 books in 9 months... E@L can do it! That's a promise to you. Will they be understood? That's a threat - to my sanity.


And I've noticed over the years a tendency of my blog posts to become more coherent and reader-friendly, moving away from the inspired aspiring Pynchonisms of the early blog posts (a lot of it lost I am sorry to say.) This is a situation greatly to be deplored.

Expect to see more and understand less in future posts. This is a blog, not a feature article, I am trying to practice my post-modern novel-writing skills, not educate or entertain you simple-minded bastards!



Posted by: expat@large on Mar 11, 07 | 12:39 am | Profile


Expect to see more and understand less in future posts. This is a blog, not a feature article, I am trying to practice my post-modern novel-writing skills, not educate or entertain you simple-minded bastards!

as we say in the south...bless his heart and his aspirations!


Posted by: savannah on Mar 11, 07 | 7:01 am

Now that's what I call a post-post-modern post.

Posted by: Dick on Mar 11, 07 | 11:09 am

PoPoMo? skeptical or affirmative?

why does this all sound like bad woody allen?

Posted by: savannah on Mar 11, 07 | 12:45 pm

Skeptical mofopopomo, baby!


a) Because Woody Allen and Thomas Pynchon are identical twins seperated at birth?...

b) That's a quote from a movie, isn't it?

The whole book seems to be an echo that "high water mark" feeling of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but obviously more true art than the Gonzo.

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 11, 07 | 12:53 pm

i had to check back..but you knew i would...

a) could be, hadn't thopught of that
b) no, it was an original thought

i have decided to read nothing but obscure, translated mysteries for a while. and erik lawson.

Posted by: savannah on Mar 11, 07 | 1:10 pm


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