Tom from Cincinnati

Thomas Pynchon novel (part 2)Okay, Thomas Pynchon’s got a new novel, Inherent Vice, coming out in August, and nobody told me. C’mon, people, have a heart. Careful readers know that Mason & Dixon was one of the last novels that made me cry–Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy is the other–and that I would naturally be psyched to hear about this. It looks like 1960s surf noir that’s self-aware of all the, ahem, inherent conventions of those genres and that decade. So, basically, Vineland in flashback mode, in SoCal–and maybe Hawaii–rather than NoCal. That’s cool with me. What’s even cooler is that Tom’s picking up the pace–only a three-year wait from the masterful Against the Day. With my other favorite Tom bringing out a children’s novel (about beer!) in April, it’s a good year for superannuated, brainy, ex-hippie writers. All’s right with the world.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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3 Responses to Tom from Cincinnati

  1. Michael says:

    Walter, I just recently began reading Pynchon for the first time. Around Christmas, I decided to begin with something manageable — “The Crying of Lot 49”. I also bought “Gravity’s Rainbow,” which I hope I will be able to get to soon, with the goal of trying to finish it before the new book arrives (with my current work load it’s hard to stay committed to any novel, much less something as demanding as a Pynchon novel). I actually own “Against the Day” but have never read it. So far I like what I’ve read of “Crying”, and while thumbing through “Gravity’s Rainbow” I’m fascinated by the language and the plethora of ideas. I don’t know Pynchon well enough at this point to say this with any accuracy, but his work (or his mind) seem to be almost hyperactive. I’m really looking forward to getting to know his work more closely.

  2. Good to hear from you, Michael, and to know that you’re getting back into the swing of things after last year’s foot difficulties. With Pynchon, there’s an antic, sparks-are-flying energy about his writing but also–and here’s why I think he’s less hyperactive than just intensely sensitive–a lucid, broad comprehension of how large-scale systems (politics, social constructs, scientific concepts) work in general, how they work on individuals, and how those systems overlap and clash. Crying‘s a great place to start, as is V. I’ll be curious to see what you think of the former. A piece of advice: when you’re reading, keep a dictionary nearby and Wikipedia running.

  3. Michael says:

    This understanding of systems and how they work on individuals seems very intriguing — and I can imagine how in the end that would make his work quite sensitive. Very interesting. I almost bought “V.” instead of “Crying”, but went with the latter just because it’s shorter (just to be sure I’d get through it in a reasonable amount of time). Good tip about having references handy — I’ve already used a few for “Crying”. I’ll let you know my impressions of Pynchon as I read more.

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