After I bought into the very difunded postmodern meme, I managed to acquire a few books that would get me the gist of this so-called "artistic" movement, being them two Pynchon works: The Crying of Lot 49 and the almighty Gravity's Rainbow. So, after reading and enjoying TCoL49, I wondered that I may be threading too fast into the higher grounds of absurdity; someway, somehow I feel like I am not ready for a story as dense as GR or The Recognitions or The Tunnel or Infinite Jest or even Focault's Pendulum, albeit understanding TCoL49 fairly well. I'm quite intrigued as I write this original post.
So, my precious fellow men, what should I consider as my "step back" into postmodernism? Shall I get
>The New York Trilogy
I didn't write it down but, yes, I do have a solid grounding in the classics: from Homer to Guimarães Rosa I have covered a great deal of works.
The question is I'm brazilian and, besides the complexity of the plot or the massive number of names to keep track of, I find it sometimes difficult to keep the reading act fluid as, even with a dictionary by my side, there is a ton of words I've never seen before and the syntax is upside down, forcing me to reread sentences quite often. That's why I've enjoyed TCoL49: it's dirty short and, after reading GR's first thirty pages, pretty straightforward and, dare I say, "simple". I'm, now, after a lighter but still postmodernist read, something between challenging and not so overwhelming. Something like the books I've posted and, trust me, I'd love to buy them all but my monthly bux are shortned by other purchases and I must chose only one. That's my issue.
Thanks for your reply nonetheless, Anon.
I get where you're coming from, but the best advice I can give you is just not to see "Postmodernism" as a single entity to tackle.
Invisible Cities could not be a less similar book to Gravity's Rainbow or The Recognitions. "Postmodernism" means very little outside of an academic viewpoint.
Read what you'd like, and don't lead broad terms like Modernism and Postmodernism guide you. Some movements, many of the early European modernist movements, many that were consciously 'movements' are more closely related.
But "Postmodernism" is mostly a term retroactively applied to works. I don't think I've ever read a (good) author saying they set out to write something "Postmodern". People like DeLillo who are so often labeled "Postmodern" claim it doesn't even mean anything. In my view, "Postmodernism" seems to surface in all sorts of cultural thought and literature today. In many ways 'Family Guy' is a distillation of Postmodernism, but you're not going to watch that to prepare for reading John Barth. The whole thing is just silly at this point.
Whether or not to read Gravity's Rainbow is a separate issue. It's a tough book, but not because of how "pomo" it is. Because it is a dense historical satire with cryptic use of symbolism and lofty questions. But if you want to prepare for it, you'd be better off reading up on political and philosophical views of War and the military industrial complex - reading Paul Auster's metafictional detective stories will be every bit as useless to reading Gravity's Rainbow as watching 10 seasons of South Park because it's "pomo".
Literature lovers and professors are just going to think you're an asshole if you keep dropping that 'p' word too - so learn to quit it sooner rather than later.
Happy reading !
Great post, my man. You seem to know what you're talking about so I'll drop my preconceived (and memey) misconception of p- and embrace my love for literarture. Also, as a note, I'll stick to Calvino; Our Ancestors is so damn good.
Just a last question: what can you tell me about The New York Trilogy? The premise insterests me.
Thanks again, lad.
The New York Trilogy is a short, fun collection of semi-surreal detective stories each playing with the genre conventions to make a reflection or two on the processes of reading and writing.
They range in style, the first being a sort of magical realist story of a writer of detective stories ending up playing the role of an actual detective due to a case of mistaken identity where he investigates a crazed literary theorist/linguist/theologist. The second is a minimalistic almost pop art story of a surreal web of surveillance jobs. The third is a mostly realist, vaguely Borgesian story about a guy who publishes the works of a friend assumed dead only to find the works very successful and that the friend may not be dead. Some of the ideas explored are the relationship between writer and character, what it means to read and write, the idea of audience, the relationship between a writer and his work, and the death of the author - and just expanding on my previous point in my previous post, none of which is explored in Gravity's Rainbow.
Good books though, each easily read in a day. Always thought the whole "New York" aspect was kind of besides the point, but that's where they're all set too.