Although I own several hundred books, I’ve mainly been a reader of non-fiction works (music, art, film etc…). So, last year I decided to make a concerted effort to expand my fiction reading horizons.
One of the authors whose work I had enjoyed in the past was Thomas Pynchon. In the late ’70s and early ’80s I read his debut novel V. and the follow-up The Crying of Lot 49. Like many other people, I made and attempt to read his classic volume Gravity’s Rainbow but, ended up putting it back on the shelf with a bookmark still in it.
After re-reading The Crying of Lot 49, I decided to once again tackle Gravity’s Rainbow. This time I did manage to complete it while both enjoying it and being perplexed. That set me on the road to read even more of his work.
Having recently completed his epic (1,200 pages) Against the Day, I have read six of his eight novels (only Vineland and Mason & Dixon to go). I’ve also read his collection of short stories called Slow Learner.
While many of his works are definitely challenging, they do reward the reader for their efforts.
So, I was quite pleased when the Washington Post published a story on March 20 that Pynchon was to be awarded $100,000 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Of course, Thomas Pynchon is well known for not being known. That is… he is never photographed, interviewed or available for any type of affair normally attributed to an author hawking his wares.
It’s not expected that Pynchon will make any effort to collect his award in person. In 1973, he sent Professor Irwin Corey to accept the National Book Award in his absence. It will be interesting to see if he attempts a similar gesture this time around.