Tuesday, February 21st, 2006
I left this comment to Roy's fine post on reading Swann's Way:
Here's a thought: many of the very best books I have read, I have come to in the same way that you came to Swann's Way (which I have not read or even made any serious attemt to) -- as Everests to be clumb, as adversaries to be bested. With all of them that I consider "very best books", there was a metamorphosis at some point, where the reading project turned into something my heart was really in, that I was really enjoying. Frequently I have given up on a book halfway through because this metamorphosis has not yet occurred; and frequently I have gone back to the book in question years later, and found that I enjoyed reading it -- sometimes this has taken multiple cycles of putting it down and coming back to it. Books that I finish without ever feeling like I was digging it, I'm pretty unlikely to go back to.
And even as I typed it I knew I was proving myself wrong -- I am now rereading Pynchon's V., a book which I slogged through to the end of despite losing the thread of, and -- well:
I started the reread last week, and early in the book I remembered how my reaction when I was first reading it was, the storyline set in the present tense, featuring Benny Profane, is a lot of fun though not particularly substantial; and the storyline set in the past, featuring the elder Stencil and any number of other oddball characters, is totally mystifying. And I felt all set to recapitulate that experience of the book when I read the chapter set in Egypt and could not understand what was going on. But as of this evening's reading (the chapter set in Florence) I have gotten in the groove and am loving the book. (It was kind of cool to be reading the scenes in and around Florentine landmarks, after a few nights ago Sylvia and I were reading her children's tour of Florence book, which we bought while we were there this summer. Also: Florence is where I started playing with yo-yos!)
Monday, February 27th, 2006
A question: are the dreams of 1904 which Mondaugen undergoes at Foppl's Siege Party, based on experiences that Foppl had in 1904? Or is that even what's going on? The story switches out from what's happening to Mondaugen, into the dreams -- there's no direct statement that Mondaugen is the dreamer, and there are constructions like "Firelily's rider" to keep him masked -- but I'm pretty sure it is Mondaugen. Ad first I thought the experiences were Godolphin's, but now I don't think that would make as much sense as if they were Foppl's.
Update: Yes, the dreamer is definitely Mondaugen -- I found this passage at HyperArts:
"His horse drowsed and collected dew while Mondaugen squirmed on the seat, trying to control anger, confusion, petulance; and below the farthest verge of the Kalahari, that vast death, the tardy sun mocked him."
Lots of good V. stuff from last February at Josh Blog.
Monday, March 6th, 2006
My current reread of V. is officially over, bogged down in the course of reading about Fausto Maijstral. Over the course of this chapter my relationship to the book went from loving it, to sweating my way through and hoping that the next chapter would be easier going, to reading the sentences for sound with no comprehension. I put a bookmark in on Thursday and haven't picked it up since. So, better luck next time through.
Friday, August third, 2012
Two old, good friends from my days on the pynchon-l are collaborating -- one from beyond the grave no less -- on a fun new blog. The Fischer Pynchon is the lovely Christine K.'s reading of a copy of V. that she got from the estate of David Marc Fischer, PBUH. She is posting photos as she goes along of his annotations and underlinings, a memorial to a friend as we near the anniversary of his passing.
Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.