Noise to Signal

Login disabled.

A Screaming Comes Across The Sky

America's greatest author returns! Or so it seems...

This caught my eye on ILE this morning - what would appear to be a brand new Thomas Pynchon novel, his first since 1997's Mason & Dixon.

However, something odd is going on. When the Amazon listing first appeared, it was accompanied by this message in the comments section:

Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.
With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.

Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

--Thomas Pynchon

The comment was taken down almost immediately(although I see an enterprising person has now reposted it). So what is going on? Was it actually Pynchon or just some joker?

Well, I suspect the listing is genuine but the message is a hoax. It seems a little too direct for this famously publicity-shy writer, and on closer inspection appears to be a deliberate parody/pastiche of a typical Pynchon novel. It has a certain mocking tone running through it, particularly in the last paragraph.

Assuming this new book is genuine, I'll be looking forward to it at least. Although I'm sure I still won't have finished Gravity's Rainbow by the time it comes out.

About this entry


>appears to be a deliberate parody/pastiche of a typical Pynchon novel

And not a particularly good one. It's about as well-observed as a casual fan would be expected to generate, but for anyone who's appreciated his work more deeply, this does seem a bit bare. Surely Pynchon deserves some more intelligent parody than the above.

You haven't finished Gravity's Rainbow? You haven't lived, killer. It's definitely one of America's perfect books by probably, in agreement with your above statement, America's greatest author. Pynchon writes with a raw, brutal beauty that I've never seen anyone else sustain as long or as well.

Or maybe it's just a thing between us Phils.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
July 17, 2006 @ 4:21 am

reply / #

I'm only managing about ten pages of GR a day at the moment. It's so dense I feel like I need regular breaks to take it all in. But oh, so beautifully overwritten. Even the purely scatological moments have a certain class.

I have to admit though, I do find the songs quite painful. He's no Cole Porter when it comes to lyrics.

Incidentally, have you seen this?
The Illustrated Gravity's Rainbow

By Phil_A
July 17, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

reply / #

>Illustrated Gravity's Rainbow

Sure have. Zak Smith even dropped by to talk briefly about it when I liked to him:

>He's no Cole Porter when it comes to lyrics.

The songs are lovely in their own way...if you go in expecting Cole Porter (catchiness over substance) you'll get nothing out of it. If you go in expecting...say...Bob Dylan (substance over just-about-everything-else) you'll find some really excellent stuff. In fact quite a few musicians have "covered" those songs and converted them into new works of art in their own right.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
July 17, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

reply / #

Im Dilan, am glad to get acquainted. A good page at you!

By Dilan
April 20, 2007 @ 11:08 am

reply / #