Tuesday, February 27, 2007

these might come in waves for a bit

The first 750 pages or so of "Against the Day" had me bewildered at all of the mediocre to negative reviews directed at Pynchon's latest. His claim that "no reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred" - equally confounding. My intuition that the Chums of Chance's airship Inconvenience reflects the nature of new technology and worldwide networks of information in the present century.....as well as the nature of the surname Traverse, and backlogs of characters that are each given detailed histories with no regard to how long they remain on the stage........I couldn't stop myself from applying the aforementioned Baudrillardian view of the folly of the new technologies.....while Pynchon is intead engaged here in a sort of constructive nostalgia...creating maps of the unknown (which is narrowly adjacent to our reality/history). As mindnumbingly carnivalesque, brainfuckingly zany, kneesmackinly brutal as the narrative is, I was a bit daunted by what should have been the meat of the book, the real heart of the matter, pgs 800-1000 or so (in book 4, which shares the book's title), where a love triangle between a bisexual former mathematician, her doting queer spy, and one of the Traverse kids supplants several seemingly important storylines. But then again, the shift reflects a move from America to Europe (and Central Asia), where international intrigue sparks the dreaded tititular Day, so this really works in the novel's favor.
I own most of Pynchon's other works, but with a new one on the horizon I wanted to begin there and work my way backwards (not counting the two times I've read the first 150 pgs of Gravity's Rainbow before getting sidetracked). Anyhow, Against the Day should prove to any critics and pretentious unhipsters that Pynchon writes sublime bubblegum pulp - not exactly rocket science. Everybody should try one.

These Vintage covers are beyond hideous. Revolting. I don't even want to write about this.

Ok. Well, there's really no need for me to read any more Philip K Dick. Then again, I wouldn't mind reading all of them. In this one (most of them), a drug with fantastic properties gets people who may not exist in this timeline into loads of trouble, and awful alternate futures are averted by the end. Women with destructive personalities ruin the lives of everyone around them before collapsing in upon themselves. Finally, a beautiful young girl has a mystical healing affect on a confused and half-dying headcase. Who could get tired of that?
Really I had picked this up used, due to frustration at my inability to find "Radio Free Albemuth" at local bookstores. That's the last thing Dick wrote before he died, and it picks up the themes from the Valis trilogy, so I've got to find a copy at some point.

This marks another first author, starting with his latest release (next up - Cormac McCarthy). Not much to say about this. Garcia Marquez composes a beautiful bittersweet tale about a writer who finds true love at the age of ninety, in the form of a fourteen years old nubian whore. It was short and delicious and exactly what I expected. I'll read One Hundred Years of Solitude at some point (since it's already on the shelf), but I'm in no rush. On to the next thing.


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