samskivert: The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon (3)

24 January 2001

Pynchon is no doubt very clever. What I can’t decide so readily is whether or not he’s a genius or a lazy bastard. It’s not clear if he purposefully constructs his sentences in that labrynthine, use up all of your short term memory and then some manner or if they just come out of his head like that and he can’t be bothered to express them more comprehensibly. I’m sure it’s the former, since the same sort of breathless lunatic structure seems to exist on other levels in the book as well, but I’m not going to run out and give him the benefit of the doubt. I think maybe his twisted tendencies on that basic level provide inspiration for the structure of the others.

In any case, with The Crying, I was able to keep on top of the book and very much appreciated his ability to weave mayhem together with humor into a sort of literary spectacle. Some bloke on the back of my copy says Pynchon recalls Joyce, Beckett and Joseph Heller. I don’t have much experience with those guys, but if I had to pick a recollection, I’d say Martis Amis for sure. In reality the influence surely flowed in the other direction, but I happened to be exposed to them in opposite order. Regardless, I look forward to going back and wrestling Gravity’s Rainbow through to the finish. I am confident that Pynchon will have made it worth the effort.

©1999–2015 Michael Bayne