a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Friday, September 10, 2004

So I'm cruising Salon--which of course now has its whole "Premium Day Pass" gimmick to force more online advertising on to you and make direct linking to an interesting article a pain--and I come across a rather in-depth and, per his usual habit, very interesting interview with Alan Moore. I love both Alan Moore's writing and his wit as a person, but the article was so long and detailed, I only had time to skim it for now. During my skim, my eyes lighted upon a paragraph where Moore indicates his love for the writings of Thomas Pynchon. And once again, I find myself comparing my intellect to a flatworm's...

...for I have never liked Pynchon's writing.

So now, because one of my favorite authors likes Pynchon, clearly my deficiency is intolerable.

Would someone please tell me why I should like Pynchon?!

The odd thing is, I love at least one author that compares favorably as a latter-day Pynchon; Neal Stephenson. Not the Snow Crash-era Neal Stephenson, where he's clearly trying to surf the wave created by Gibson and Sterling, but the Cryptonomicron-era-and-later Neal Stephenson. Critics compare Stephenson to Pynchon because of their shared penchant for cramming their bulging novels with heavily layered detail (ooooh, that sounds kinda dirty).

What has always turned me off about Pynchon's approach is that I could never connect his heavily layered detail to the plot, whereas with Stephenson every nanometer of his heavily layered detail is essential to the plot. It's the literary equivalent of a Belgian tapestry, compared to what seems like the giant ball of errant bits of twine that is Pynchon.

So when faced with a favorite author--who is most clearly an erudite and tasteful individual--that loves Pynchon, I am once again forced to ask myself...Am I just too stupid to "get" Pynchon? Is my grasp of the literary canon just too juvenile and paltry?

A friend of mine once tried to interpret it for me by saying, that with Pynchon, there was "no payoff until the very end." Based on that, I dismissed the possibility of ever liking Pynchon. Even at this late age, I have developed the mentality of a Playstation rugrat; I need intermittant emotional payoff to keep me vested long enough in order to reach the prize, that is, the ending. Is the payoff really going to be that good to suffer 800 other pages of seeming twaddle?

So...I don't know. If you can explain it to me, please drop me an e-mail.


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