30 November 2006

Pynchon vida!



"The Book of the Masked" [was] filled with encrypted field-notes and occult scientific passages of a dangerousness one could at least appreciate, though more perhaps for what it promised than for what it presented in such impenetrable code, its sketch of a mindscape whose layers emerged one on another as from a mist, a distant country of painful complexity, an all but unmappable flow of letters and numbers that passed into and out of the guise of the other, not to mention images, from faint and spidery sketches to a full spectrum of inks and pastels... visions of the unsuspected, breaches in the Creation where something else had had a chance to be luminously glimpsed. Ways in which God chose to hide within the light of day, not a full list, for the list was probably endless, but chance encounters with details of God's unseen world." ["Against the Day," by Thomas Pynchon.] AND: Mr. Pynchon's own press release for the stoop-stopper in question: "Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after the First World War, Against the Day moves from the labour troubles in Colorado, to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, to Venice and Vienna, to the Balkans and Central Asia, to Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tungska event, to Mexico during the revolution, Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all. With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred. The sizeable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi and Groucho Marx. As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it is their lives that pursue them. Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it's not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction. Let the reader decide; let the reader beware.
Good luck."