Thursday August 5th, 2010

Pynchon: Virgin Magnet?

At n+1, Nick Holdstock writes about taking part in a Thomas Pynchon conference earlier this year in Poland. A piece:

I took a seat at the back (in what would have been “Togo” or “Benin”) next to a man who resembled a Biblical prophet as drawn by Robert Crumb. He had a long, grey beard and eyes like hot coals, and was with a woman whom he introduced as an “illustrator”—which word required him to relate the entire plot of William Gaddis’ The Recognitions. As he talked, and talked, I looked around the quickly filling room. Of the fifty or so people, most were middle-aged white males. It occurred to me that a) I had never met a woman who said she loved Thomas Pynchon and that b) while not a virgin, I was, at the age of 36, very far from married. I hoped these two facts were unrelated.

The first talk was by a British young man whose sentences were long, curving roads that forked repeatedly. Though the audience at first mistook this for garrulousness, after twenty minutes it became clear that he was paying deliberate homage to some of Pynchon’s more Byzantine passages, a fact we acknowledged with gentle nods and the occasional yawn of rapture. The only dissenting voice was the prophet to my right. “That boy talks out of his ass,” he said in an angry whisper.

So this is as good a time as any to remind you about the Pynchon book giveaway going on here this week. Details can be found here.