Conversational Reading has an interesting discussion about the forthcoming Pynchon book. All the lit bloggers have been in a flurry about Against the Day being solicited on Amazon. But are we actually going to read it?
Now, I'm a fan of Pynchon, and someone who defends him to his detractors. I've read Gravity's Rainbow, The Crying of Lot 49, Slow Learner and Vineland (which is a good book, damnit). But there's this sense where maybe Pynchon hasn't grown very much; all his books seem to in some way hit the same notes, notes that he and his cohort of post-modernists were all hitting very hard in the seventies. I didn't read Mason and Dixon because it struck me as an elaborate rehash of Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor. Against the Day, from Pynchon's own description on the Amazon page, should by rights be a good book:
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.
Right on, right on. And yet, somehow, I'm just not sure if I want to wade through another 900 page book by the man, even with Groucho Marx. People who picked up the "Pynchonesque" mantle, like David Foster Wallace and Mark Danielewski, are interesting because of the way they evolved from Pynchon, in the way they extended and mutated his ideas and created new things out of them. This strikes me as something Pynchon himself seems to have failed at.
Yet, I'll hold off for the reviews. If there's a consensus that this is the Pynchon book that breaks to mold, well then it'd be something to see.