Thomas Pynchon – The Crying of Lot 49

Title: The Crying of Lot 49
Author: Thomas Pynchon
Year: 1966

After reading Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and liking it quite a lot in the end, despite the fact that i didn’t understand very much, a shorter, less enigmatic book (although such a relative term is rather pointless if Gravity’s Rainbow is used as a yard stick) by the same author sounded very interesting indeed. The Crying of Lot 49 was introduced to me as a good introduction to Pynchon’s writing, and although I’m sure that’s an accurate description for most people, it isn’t true for me. This review will mainly consist of a comparison with Gravity’s Rainbow, because even though they aren’t the same, they are similar enough that most of what I said in the previous review holds true for this novel as well.

There are two significant differences between The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. First of all, the story about Oedepa Maas, who is assigned to carry out the will of her now deceased ex-boyfriend and real-estate tycoon Pierce Inverarity, and her gradual uncovering of a clandestine rival to United States Postal Service is quite easy to follow and seems close to normal in comparison to the wild extravaganza of Gravity’s Rainbow. As such, this book is easier to follow and it’s actually possible to appreciate the plot itself. In general, this is a good thing.

The second difference is that The Crying of Lot 49, while still being written in a relatively entertaining style, falls short of being as funny and as witty as Gravity’s Rainbow. I laugh sometimes, I smile often, but I can’t find any passages that are so good I feel I need to quote them in a review.

In short, I do think that this is a good introduction to Pynchon, a lot better than Gravity’s Rainbow, which most people would probably give up on after fifty pages or so. However, I’m not as impressed this time, but I’m more than willing to read Pynchon again, because even though he didn’t hit solid gold this time, he’s in many ways a unique author with qualities seldom seen elsewhere. That alone makes his books worthwhile.

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  1. Martin Ackerfors’s avatar

    Nu har jag ju inte läst Gravity’s rainbow än (den står på tur inom en snar framtid) men däremot läst och recenserat The Crying of Lot 49. Jag kan med andra ord inte avgöra hur de förhåller sig till varandra, men givet din recension bådar det ju gott för min läsning av nästa Pynchon.

    Svante kan säkert instruera till vad du ska läsa härnäst av honom. Jag misstänker att Against the Day inte är aktuell. Hans nya, Inherent Vice, verkar intressant, hur som helst.

    Reply

    1. Svante’s avatar

      Alltså, egentligen är nog Against the Day rätt vettig att läsa snart. Den innehåller massor av coola idéer och kul språkpastischer. Att jag inte har orkat läsa klart den har mer att göra med min lässituation än något annat, egentligen.

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      1. Martin Ackerfors’s avatar

        Jag tänkte mest på längden… :)

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        1. Svante’s avatar

          Fast den är inte så väldigt mycket längre än Gravity’s Rainbow. Eller, ja, inte proportioneligt, alltså.

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          1. Olle Linge’s avatar

            Jag skulle inte ha något emot att ta mig an Against the Day, men det bygger ju på att jag får tag på den som ljudbok. Jag skulle aldrig få för mig att bränna ett halvårs lästid på en bok, oavsett vilken det är. :) Jag lyssnade ju på både Gravity’s rainbow och The Crying of Lot 49.

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