Hawking Up Hairballs

Monday, December 11, 2006

Two Quick Takes

I'm about 150 pages into Thomas Pynchon's new novel, Against The Day. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times slammed it in this review, and my early impression is that she's right on the mark. Kakutani review. The New York Times requires registration and some of you might not want to bother registering, so here's the first paragraph of the review. "Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, 'Against the Day,' reads like the sort of imitation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that a dogged but ungainly fan of this author’s might have written on quaaludes. It is a humongous, bloated jigsaw puzzle of a story, pretentious without being provocative, elliptical without being illuminating, complicated without being rewardingly complex."

Sometimes one can like a book, and recommend it to others without having a whole lot to say about it. That's the case for me with David Masiel's The Western Limit of the World. It's something that you don't find much of these days, a sea tale, somewhat along the lines of Joseph Conrad. It's well-written. The plot is fresh and the characters are interesting, if massively flawed, and I recommend it.


Blogger sevenpointman said...

After having nearly finished ATD I find
miracles at every point in my reading. It has a sweeping, reader involving, narrative, that builds
up both plot, context, characters and ideas.
I find this novel the most transparent one I have read by Pynchon.
The key to it's understanding, in my opinion lies, in hooking into the polarities of experience Pynchon deals with. to express the historical, political and cultural ruptures that took place during the era he writes about.
Light-darkness, male-female, poor-rich, abstract-simple,good-evil, etc.
If we read the novel as a struggle of these polarities being refracted through time and history we will gain some valuable insight.
For the reader who needs guidance in getting access to how these mirroring images work in the
narrative-make mental comparisons, observe types, use geographical and linguistic reference points to figure out the connections.
This novel is not a mess-it is long, sometimes
overwritten, edited with less than perfect
precision, and sometimes relies to much upon sexual shenigans to give entertainment value
and common acceptability, -but it is an incredibly
poignant, richly satirical, and poetically breathtaking work of postmodern writing
that melds passion. pathos and purpose

12:08 PM  
Blogger Chuck Oliveros said...

Well, I'm about 250 pages in now, and I understand what you're saying. I don't think I'm going to like it as well as you did. Even at this point, I don't think it comes anywhere near to measuring up to "Gravity's Rainbow", which is one of my favorite four or five novels. I don't think it comes up to "V" either. That's just my take though.

1:16 AM  

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