About to start it, my buddy claims it's the best Pynchon.
I've only read lot 49 & a failed attempt to trudge through GR (but i enjoyed the former). Is this a viable next step? What can I expect? Is it really dense?
It's not quite as dense or intense as Gravity's Rainbow, but it's one of his best books for sure. You don't sound like a particularly experienced reader so you might be put off by the grammar and vocabulary since it's written in a stylized reconstruction of 18th Century English.
I'm on chapter 61, the whole thing has been great so far.
It's definitely more accessible than Gravitys Rainbow and even V. The archaic writing is easy to get used to. The difficulty only comes from unfamiliarity with the time period and the occasional obscure/fake phrases and words.
Ive been looking over the pynchon M&D wiki before or after each chapter, which answers most of my questions and provides page numbers for characters if you forget who exactly someone is.
I prefer Gravity's Rainbow by far, but Mason and Dixon sure is good. An older, wiser, more restrained Pynchon. Incomprehensibility at a minimum, only a few short passages that left me going "HUH?"
I'll enjoy reading this around Christmas at 70 in my Thoreau-esque cabin with some pipe tobacco and hot coffee.