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Me and Sylvia (April 4, 2002)


Jeremy's journal

Although I have done it all these thirty years or more, although I live my life surrounded by other people who are always doing it, still I think that there are few activities so worthy of inspection as the reading of novels.

Juan Gabriel Várgas

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Sunday, December 31st, 2006

🦋 Soon it will be 2007.

Happy new year, to my human readers, search engine crawlers, and spambots.

posted evening of December 31st, 2006: Respond

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Last night for bedtime stories, we finished Through the Looking Glass, which was totally enthralling for Sylvia. She's into pointing out the impossibilities of the story. What's funny: previously I had asked a couple of times if she would like to hear "Alice in Wonderland" but she always turned it down flat. I think the title just made it sound too much like a "princessy" story. But now she wants to hear it, and asked if we could read all of the stories in our Collected Work of Lewis Carroll. (I am skeptical how much of "Rhyme and Reason" she is actually going to want to listen to.)

posted afternoon of December 28th, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Halfway through Against the Day -- the book just took a turn (p. 548) for the miraculous. I heard from Bill M. today, that he just finished it, and that I have many more marvels to expect in the coming pages.

posted afternoon of December 28th, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Against The Day

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Two fine blogs having to do with Against the Day: the Against the Day Weblog of the mysterious Basileios -- I don't know if that URL is going to continue to be the correct one -- and Research Methods for Professional Writers by somebody named Stevens.

[...Later:] You know that blog of Stevens' is really good. (Basileios' may be great too, I don't know -- haven't started looking in the archives much yet.)

Update:Also Adam Kotsko has compiled an index of some of the best Against the Day reviews. Update: some great writing, in Spanish, about Against the Day at El pez volador.

posted morning of December 23rd, 2006: Respond
➳ More posts about Thomas Pynchon

Friday, December 15th, 2006

I have been on-again, off-again with Against the Day; after the first bit, which I quite enjoyed, there was about a hundred pages where I was reading and thinking, well I really owe the guy big-time for Vineland and GR and Lot 49, I really should keep reading; and then there was about a hundred pages where I was liking the story a lot but not quite connecting with the characters; but suddenly yesterday afternoon, as I was reading of Kit's exploits at Yale and on Long Island, it hit me with a flash that this is Great Stuff, on a par with anything Pynchon has written before. And reading today about Dally working her way around NYC, that impression is still with me. I am feeling the need to reread though, since Dally and her father and their story were introduced during a bit where I wasn't paying very close attention.

posted evening of December 15th, 2006: Respond

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

🦋 The Fantastic Music Machine

Go listen to it play. Hey here's something interesting: I just found out I'm related to Rube Goldberg on my mother's side; his brother Sanford married my distant cousin Gladys Da Silva Solis Ritterband.

posted morning of December 9th, 2006: Respond

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

🦋 The Voice

Funny -- the narrative voice in Against the Day that I was thinking (as of p. 41) was a parody, goes away right about p. 41 and is replaced by/transitions gently into a voice that sounds much more like Pynchon's to my ears. I like The Great Quail's suggestion that this opening is a way of poking fun at people who expect Pynchon's language to be pretentiously wordy. ("Pretentiously wordy" isn't exactly what I'm looking for here; it is the closest I can come on short notice.)

posted evening of November 25th, 2006: Respond

🦋 Sin and Penance

From Against the Day: I am really liking this line, from p. 41:

"Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn't happen.

"It's nothing supernatural. Most people have a wheel riding up on a wire, or some rails in the street, some kind of guide or groove, to keep them moving in the direction of their destiny. But you keep bouncing free. Avoiding penance and thereby definition."

It is Drave, leader of the order which Lew Basnight has just joined/drifted into, telling him not to expect forgiveness to come out of the works he is doing.

I am still finding the narrative voice kind of jarring and thinking it sounds more like a parody than like Pynchon's authentic voice. But against that, I'm really enjoying the story being told.

posted morning of November 25th, 2006: Respond

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I am finding the frontspiece of Against the Day a little mysterious:

"It's always night, or we wouldn't need light."
-- Thelonious Monk

Any one have information that will help me place this in context and make sense of it? Drop me a line.

Update -- here is a transcription by Steve Lacy of some advice from Monk, including "It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn't need lights."

posted evening of November 24th, 2006: Respond

🦋 Against The Day

I've been looking forward for a couple of months to Pynchon's new novel. And here it is! I just started it this morning and am sort of curious as to whether I'm reading the story of the novel or the story of another work that is contained within the novel -- and whether the narrating voice is Pynchon's or a character's. I'm leaning towards the latter (presumably I'll find out soon enough) -- the first chapter is reading a bit like a parody of what somebody critical of post-modern fiction might expect a new book by Pynchon to sound like.

posted afternoon of November 24th, 2006: Respond

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