Monday, November 20, 2006

One Thumbs Down for "Against the Day"

Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times has weighed in heavily on the negative side for the new Thomas Pynchon, writing in "A Pynchonesque Turn by Pynchon" that the new novel is like an undergrad's take on Pynchon, written on quaaludes. Gravity's Rainbow got plenty of bad reviews by lesser mortals who just didn't "get it", but it's pretty obvious that Kakutani gets the evolution of Pynchon all too well, and doesn't like it. What Kakutani would like to see is the goofy humanism of the characters in Mason and Dixon, alongside the conspiratorial terror of the earlier novels. The review suggests that what we get instead are Potemkin-village versions of conspiracies in the years of the Ludlow strikes in Colorado, and the events surrounding the Spanish-American War and lead-up to WWI.

I'll be busy through December finishing Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, with its massive goofy conspiracy theories of the Louis XIV era, so I won't be getting to Pynchon until early 2007. No matter how much I love and revere the guy, I worry that Kakutani may be on to something.

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