Thomas Pynchon's Work

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"Let the reader beware," warns novelist Thomas Pynchon, before the reader even begins Pynchon's vast new novel, "Against the Day."

And then we're off, on a mad caper that can only be described, of course, as "Pynchonesque." Starting high above the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 in a plummeting dirigible, then into the blue with anarchists, gamblers, magicians, spies, shamans and hired guns.

Ever since "V." and "Gravity's Rainbow," Thomas Pynchon has been a cult hero and provocateur — as reclusive as JD Salinger; as complex as Hieronymus Bosch; called the greatest, wildest, most infuriating author of his generation.

This hour On Point: The life and wild message of reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon.

Quotes from the Show:

"It was kind of interesting the way [Pynchon in his earlier novel] addressed the horrors of the 20th century ... without seeming to be all that dismayed himself, and so I marked a real difference in this one [Pynchon's "Against the Day"]." Liesl Schillinger

"I'm not saying this ["Against the Day"] is an easy read but he doesn't bury this thoughts quite as deep." Liesl Schillinger

"If you look at 20th century figures who get written about and taught in academic classrooms, which is one of the ways the books stay in print, Pynchon and Tony Morrison, I think, are the clear front-runners in the academic world, even though Pynchon's books are terrifically long... " Molly Hite

"I like to teach Pynchon as an imagination shaped by and helping to shape the 1960s. ...Pynchon is a great writer of alternative and underground histories, telling a different history from what one gets from mainstream histories of the 20th century. He's interested so much in what it is that has created the modern world and the conditions in which we live and the threats that we endure..." Thomas Schaub


Liesl Schillinger, contributer to The New York Times Book Review

Thomas Schaub, professor of English at University of Wisconsin - Madison and author of "Pynchon: The Voice of Ambiguity";
Molly Hite, Chair of the English Department at Cornell University and author of "Ideas of Order in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon."

This program aired on December 18, 2006.


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