Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tyrone's Harp

I'm going to do this before eating the Bookforum piece (thanks to TBogg and Rox for pointing the way) on Pynchon, to keep it as personal as possible.

"Pynchon from A to V" is the title, but I started with "V." A pattern was established; I'd read to a sticking point - in V it was the SW African horror - stop, stunned, pause for a few days or weeks, then start over from the beginning and sail through. Somehow this made the architecture of the books clearer, chewing them over without actively thinking about them. I am pretty sure there are many readers who come to Pynchon the same way they might Lamont Cranston - he Clouds Their Minds. I really loved the way he screwed with mine, so I kept coming back.

My favorite anecdote about reading him isn't even my own. I had set our LA reading group on Gravity's Rainbow, and my friend Peter took it with him on a business trip to the Netherlands. He was arranging a franchise for gym wear distribution (or something like that) and found himself out in the Dutch countryside with a bunch of male and female bodybuilders, whose only subject of conversation was their diets, their supplementation (licit and not) and their stats. In that cottage, Pynchon made perfect sense and seemed eminently sane.

Pynchon provides antidotes to some of our darkest influences. Ayn Rand? There's Mafia Winsom. There's the Disgusting English Candy Drill. Any recipe with "Surprise" in it's name. There's the Postal Conspiracy in Lot 49. There's Slothrop's lost harmonica, singing by itself in a German brook, and probably dreaming of Rilke. Makes me want to cry, it's all so funny, dreadful, beautiful.

He also writes great liner notes for Spike Jones.

[Update: See Neddie Jingo's Comment - and follow his URLs - like Kilroy, he got there first. He is now blogrolled.]


Neddie said...

Yo, Grish: we have much to talk about, and much to reminisce:


grishaxxx said...

Somebody just got Blogrolled.