Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pynchon Goes Digital


Thomas Pynchon, one of the last great e-book holdouts, has finally agreed to have his entire catalog released digitally.  For anyone who has ever attempted to read Gravity's Rainbow or any of his other works, this should be considered good news.  If for no other reason than having full-text search capabilities, the ability to read such classics as Mason & Dixon, V., Vineland, etc. on an e-reader will certainly be a welcome convenience in my life.  Check out this nice article from Media Decoder on the news.

Watching that cool trailer from Penguin got me thinking about my my relationship with Pynchon. I bought my first Pynchon novel, V., when I was 17.  I got about 200 pages in before I lost interest, but I sort of fell in love with the approach that Pynchon took to the novel.  It was obtuse and full of facts and diversions, but it still a solid heart.  I got a copy of The Crying of Lot 49 and I read it in about a week.  It was a few days before I realized that I wasn't sure exactly what had really taken place in the novel, so I bought a reader's guide, expecting to read it again.  I never got around to it and I still consider The Crying of Lot 49 unread because I don't think I understood it.  

In my 20's, fresh off my first read of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, I bought a copy of Gravity's Rainbow.  I read the first chapter and decided that I wasn't going to be able to get through it without a reader's guide.  I picked up Steven Weisenburger's A Gravity's Rainbow Companion, but after about 175 pages I realized that I wasn't ready to tackle it.

Around the same time. I saw a nice hardcover copy of Mason & Dixon in a used bookstore and picked it up.  And just a month ago I found a nice copy of Vineland at my local library sale.  

I have not yet finished a Pynchon novel, but I own most of his novels.  I'm pretty sure that if I came across nice used copies of Inherent Vice or  Against the Day then I'd snatch them up to add to my collection.  I'm sure that someday I'll actually complete a Pynchon novel and eventually I'll read them all, but for the time being, I just look at them and wonder if I'm ready.

The Pynchon Collection

Notice how A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49  is thicker than my copy of The Crying of Lot 49

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