It’s technically Tuesday, though only 12:00AMish in NJ. I know I’m sleeping in tomorrow (like, 11:00AM sleeping in, not 8:15) and don’t want to keep anyone waiting.
DEAR Rec: V. by Thomas Pynchon
I really wanted to write this review last week, though I thought it unfair to examine the book without finishing it completely. That, and the whole car drama. The delay was worth it. It’s an almost-embarrassing admission that I never read a sentence of Pynchon’s prose before this month. I only say almost because how many 22 year olds actively seek out Thomas Pynchon for leisure reading? Still, the important part is that I got to him, and I was not disappointed.
What can be said about a writer that is not afraid to challenge the reader? One who makes you want to go to the dictionary to find out what those words mean that you've never seen or heard before? A writer who can make something as, let’s face it, disgusting as a bunch of sailors sucking on fake breasts attached to kegs in a bar seem beautiful? Not much that can come close to the artistry necessary to achieve such dedication, that's for certain.
Pynchon can write, and his debut novel from 1963 still holds up as a great piece of American literature. V. is technically a character (or characters) in the book, though the period implies a greater motivation than just a name abbreviation.
What about “Chapter 3: In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations”? Perhaps V. also stands for vantage point, as his writing, in one chapter alone, provides eight distinct perspectives that add up to a narrative about a woman named Victoria within the greater narrative about the mysterious V.. Each chapter in the novel switches perspectives as well, which isn’t easy to do at all. The characters remain distinct and engaging in lovely third person prose.
I could probably dedicate an entire blog that would last for a long time to Pynchon’s writing in V.. I’d never do it justice. Read it. Love it. And if you’re fortunate enough to borrow an original edition from your library, embrace the series of rental cards inevitably fastened to the back cover with a never ending rank of inked dates from 1963 on. For the smell alone it's worth it. Nothing beats that long loved smell of library books. Well, maybe the smell of a fresh picked book by a favorite author on release day at your local bookstore. Mmm...Joyce Carol Oates short fiction collection...
Labels: DEAR rec