Could someone give me an overview of Tommy P.? Maybe explain some of his recurring themes? Is it all as absurd as Gravity's Rainbow is supposed to be? Pic related is what I have and I'm planning to start on.
I know this isn't the best post, but I hope it's better than endless DFW memeing.
V. is definitely the best starting point. other novels either are significantly worse or harder to read, though M&D is arguably easier
dfw for the road
What's your mother tongue, Anon? Mine is Portuguese and I've just finished my first tackle on The Crying of Lot 49, arguable his most accessible/short work. I read it somewhat slowly and carefully, enjoying every prose and/or idea construction that was alien to me. He truly is unique; I will re-read it before I dive into Gravity's Raibow, just to be sure.
Tommy Pinecone is one of my favourite authors, and I have read everything by him excepting Against The Day, Inherent Vice and Bleeding Edge.
If I had to pick a central theme of his work I would say it's the projection of meaning onto things that do necessarily have any intrinsic meaning. Pynchon likes to do this through some main object in most of his books (the rocket in Gravity's Rainbow, the Mason Dixon line in Mason and Dixon), he also uses this theme to explore various social and historical themes though wacky over the top allegory.
I read a letter written by Pynchon that someone posted on /lit/ recently where he was talking about his love of Borges and how it inspired him in the writing of Gravity's Rainbow, and there was one story that he described that I think really inspired him. In the story some Egyptian (I think) king is really proud of his labyrinth that he built, he thinks it's great, mega complicated, a total stumper for anyone who wants to try to solve it. Eventually this king invites another Arabian king over to have a go at the labyrinth. The Arabian king goes in, wanders around for a few days and eventually finds his way out. The Arabian king tells the Egyptian king that it was a real nice labyrinth but you should try mine. Eventually the Egyptian king decides to, and the Arabian king shows him that his labyrinth is the vast open Arabian desert. Pynch takes a lot of que from this in his major novels if we consider that what he talks a lot about is how much more of a labyrinth an open for interpretation work is than any incredibly densely written work with a single definitive answer.
V. is definitely the best place to start, it clues you in to his style more than the others with regards to the over the top "fucking everything is somehow allegorical, but it might not really be" thing that he likes to do. There is more to it (and all of his work) than this, but this (I think) is a really central theme. There is a lot of actual, non projection discussion of various themes that goes on in all of his work, but this is a fairly constant trend throughout everything also.
Yes, that works too. It helps to explain his silence on interpretations as well. Pynchon has made a point of never once releasing any info on anything he might actually be trying to say in his work.
Adding to this, the reason why V. is a good place to start is because the characters are actively engaging in this type of interpretation in painting V. (concept, person, letter all) with meaning, that may be total conjecture, while also drawing the reader into the same kind of searching for an interpretation in a meta-narrative sort of sense. He does it in most of his books, but V. I feel makes the whole "drawing you into the same way of thinking as my characters while also being aware of the potential red herring of meaning it may be" more clear and obvious than the rest, and gives you the tools (regarding both this and figuring out his ridic allegorical stuff) to better appreciate his other books.
M&D was much harder a read for me
the language in msot of his other books are far easier to follow, and only Gr and ATD really get abstract, V, L49, and Vineland are all super straightforward (with some minor section specific exceptions (please note Stencil's egypt chapter is NOT one of them i dont know how anyone finds that difficult))
The desert was such a revelation for Pinecone in that the already existing, seemingly obvious, right-in-front-of-your-face aspects of everyday life are, when scrutinized, far more intricate and complex than anything artifice and imagination could dream up (the labyrinth). Thus for Pinecone as a writer the invisible systems within society become the inspiration, the raw material, and give his aesthetic inclination towards complex, intricate fiction both a grounding and a direction.
i just mentioned because its basically: a linear story with difficult prose vs a fairly non-linear story with easier prose. so the argument could be made, though i personally definitely found v. an easier read
The concept of a collective anonymous project is interesting, and I'm impressed that they've actually made it all the way to publication - even self publication - and particularly physical copies, but the content is bad...I don't even know if I'd call it a book...but it's a nice thought.