@Irish – I’m still trying to figure out what happened with me and fiction, but my best guess is this that after about ten years immersing myself in fiction film, I found myself decreasingly interested in reading fiction. Maybe I hit a point where I was getting all the narrative fiction I needed from the movies. I haven’t stopped reading by any means, but it’s just non-fiction these days. I’m sure I’ll return to it one day (Lord knows I scan through this thread and see tons of things you all are reading and find myself getting the itch), but for now I’m just gonna let it be what it is.
That makes sense, think I’ve begun feeling the same way but in reverse. As I’ve been reading more this year, I’ve been more off-and-on about my interest in films, in general that is, than I’d been in the past.
@Irish — give GREAT EXPECTATIONS a shot. It has all of Dickens’ strengths with less of his weaknesses, and it has the virtue of being comparatively short. It was the first Dickens I read, and 30 years later I’m still at it.
Thanks, I’ll keep GE in mind for when I’m up for some Dickens. :)
Still reading White Noise, but fool that I am, figured I’d get a jump-start on McCarthy at the same time. Unfortunately, library didn’t have The Crossing [the one I wanted to start with,] but this is the first volume of the trilogy so, why not?
Polaris – Sorry – I wrote and edited that post really quickly before having to go out and do something, so it wasn’t very coherent.
But I guess I’ve never liked the idea of a McGuffin all that much to begin with. Usurped narratives just make me feel annoyed. In *Ubik*’s case, the whole half-lifer thing was more interesting, but I just didn’t think it jived that well with the other themes in the book. It kind of seemed like Dick just threw a bunch of concepts together and made a narrative from them.
Whereas in Androids (which, coincidentally, I felt compelled to immediately re-read after I finished it the first time), there are wildly different ideas, but I thought they came together in a really satisfying way.
SIDENOTE: I’ve got several friends who seem really excited about the possibility of living on other planets, which is something I just cannot feel after having read any of Dick’s books that involve Martian colonization!
I found Dick’s work to be quite coherent and self-consistent.
I find it to be coherent and self-consistent often – all I’m saying is that sometimes they don’t come together in a satisfying way for me.
joining DFFOO reading:
We should all read it and have a book discussion….
I liked Denis Johnson’s Nobody Move better.
I’m about 100 pages in, but don’t have much to say yet. Except that it’s impossible for me not to imagine the Dude (the film character, not the Mubi user) as Doc Sportello, which is a little bit annoying. Anybody else have this problem?
Seeing as Pynchon doesn’t bother describing Doc at all (hell, he doesn’t seem to get around to descibing anything!) you can pretty much imagine him as you like. This isn’t nearly as much fun as I’d hoped.
I’m beginning to wonder what I ever saw in Pynchon in the first place.
^ :( I’m at least enjoying it… I’m interested to see where it goes. It’s definitely Pynchon-lite, but I think that’s kind of a good thing. It’s got that everything is interconnected vibe, but not to the complicated extent that made me have to give up on Gravity’s Rainbow. But, then again, it’s not to the extent that made me love The Crying of Lot 49.
So I guess I mean to say that I’m interested to see where it goes. I’m reserving judgement until I read more.
Yeah, VERY lite. I didn’t expect a Crying of Lot 49 but I was at least hoping for a Vineland, AND I find it has no feel for the era. Very disappointing.
^ I don’t know, I don’t really think it’s supposed to be a realistic take on the era. It is a PI novel after all!
There’s a lot of emphasis on “acting” so far… I bet when I’m done with it I’ll try to construct some kind of bridge between that and the way it depicts the era. It is kind of stilted.
“Anybody else have this problem?”
I imagine everyone as the Dude until it is proven otherwise.
“It is kind of stilted.”
Disagree a thousand times over.
“Today, after a deceptively sunny and uneventful spin up through the Hughes Company property — a kind of smorgasbord of potential U.S. combat zones, terrain specimens ranging from mountains and deserts to swamp and jungle and so forth, all there, according to local paranoia, for fine-tuning battle radar systems on — past Westchester and the Marina and into Venice, Doc reached the Santa Monica city line, where the latest mental exercise began. Suddenly he was on some planet where the wind can blow two directions at once, bringing in fog from the ocean and sand from the desert at the same time, obliging the unwary driver to shift down the minute he entered this alien atmosphere, with daylight dimmed, visibility reduced to half a block, and all colors, including those of traffic signals, shifted radically elsewhere in the spectrum.”
“An old Gordita reflex, dating back to shortly after the Second World War, when a black family had actually tried to move into town and the citizens, with helpful advice from the Ku Klux Klan, had burned the place to the ground and then, as if some ancient curse had come into effect, refused to allow another house ever to be built on the site. The lot stood empty until the town finally confiscated it and turned it into a park, where the youth of Gordita Beach, by the laws of karmic adjustment, were soon gathering at night to drink, dope, and fuck, depressing their parents, though not property values particularly.”
“The husband, a tax accountant who thought he’d score some quality surveillance on the cheap, had hired Doc to keep an eye on his wife. After a couple of days of stakeouts at the boyfriend’s house Doc decided to go up on the roof and have a closer look through a skylight at the bedroom below, where the activities proved to be so routine — hanky maybe, but not panky — that he decided to light a joint to pass the time, taking one from his pocket, in the dark, more soporific than he had intended. Before long he had fallen asleep and half rolled, half slid down the shallow pitch of the red-tile roof, coming to rest with his head in the gutter, where he then managed to sleep through the events which followed, including hubby’s arrival, considerable screaming, and gunfire loud enough to get the neighbors to call the police. Bigfoot, who happened to be out in a prowl car nearby, showed up to find the husband and the b.f. slain and the wife attractively tousled and sobbing, and gazing at the .22 in her hand as if it was the first time she’d seen one. Doc, up on the roof, was still snoring away.”
Karmic accounting of the passing narratives through these spaces, from a doper’s perspective.
What does give the novel trouble is actually a rather Pynchon thing, in that he does not, anywhere in his career, take the time to lead in to his digressions long enough so that if you miss the few words here or there that signal it, you’re on a whole new anecdote feeling like a different story before you’ve had time to collect. And I think he does it on purpose, though he gets criticized for it. He also commonly gets criticized for ‘distance’ from his characters, another one of those things where yeah but he’s the type of writer where if a character speaks, the dialog is supposed to describe so much more. For instance, in the first chapter it’s shown that Doc Sportello is short fellow, based on his dialog quips. Even when he’s writing pulp, Pynchon defies easy first reading.
‘Stilted’, maybe, in the sense that if you fall out of the flow you’ll trip, but the flow is there and if you can keep up with it, moves at just the rhythm it should.
You all have inspired me to read a novel again.
Polaris – even those paragraphs you posted seem a little stilted to me. And I mean stilted in the best sense of the word, of course. But there’s something in them that seems a little artificial. Maybe it’s just because the descriptions are so flowing and elaborate.
Of course, I have never lived in California (and I’ve only spent like two days in LA ever), and I was born in 1989, so I have absolutely no idea what California or the 60’s were actually like. And then there are all these cultural depictions of what “the 60’s” were like, so that’s basically my reference point.
But I think Pynchon is doing something interesting with these stereotypes. He’s writing this in 2009, so he knows we’ve got all these ideas and stereotypes of that era. I think the stiltedness is deliberate – both because it is his natural style, and because he’s playing on the cultural perception of that time.
And then you can also say that it’s from the perspective of a perpetually pot-addled hippie. So there’s that, too.
So, basically, I’m really enjoying it so far! :)
Well one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Pynchon, one of the reasons I always return, is because of passages like what I shared — moments in his books where he starts off on a thought that initially seems like mere description or background, but by the time it’s weaved through his entire process, has become an entire narrative complete with punchline.
And I mean punchline. There’s a sixteen page long pun in Gravity’s Rainbow.
And the bulk of Vineland is a single one of those jokes. As in, the book itself is an eighty page story with a two-hundred page long vignette inserted into the very middle of it.
But just because they’re jokes I’m not saying they aren’t meaningful or anything like that. ‘Depressing their parents, but not property values particularly’ is a very scathing point about suburbia that sums up the entirety of all those suburbanite critical movies like American Beauty in a single line while also giving a better quality of the history and development of that thought. The Santa Monica bit is harder to describe but sort of shows how California is a real life Disney World of the Dumbo elephant dance variety.
Which then explains… everything.
And the other one I shared is the book you expect to be reading with the ironic ending you’d be frustrated with if that was the whole 200 pages, but in the single page Pynchon clears away the genre so you’re satisfied and also subverts it before his bigger, wider story is getting ready to Crying of Lot 49 style frustrate.
And once you get to the ending, you will see how these segments perfectly represent what Pynchon is building up to.
Color me excited then! :D
“And the bulk of Vineland is a single one of those jokes. As in, the book itself is an eighty page story with a two-hundred page long vignette inserted into the very middle of it.”
[Brainfart.] Now I’m eventually going to want to give that another shot . . .
It’s weird, Vineland for a while was actually my favorite Pynchon but it’s possibly the best case study of some of his worst tendencies. In other words, if you like Pynchon you’ll like Vineland quite a bit but if you are one of those critics that complains about
his flash forwards in backflashes within flash forwards
his ridiculous character names
his mugging distance from his characters
his opaque language
which are all apt criticisms except for the fact that holy shit they weirdly work (why????), then Vineland is probably infuriating to read, I would imagine. Most people can, for instance, cite those criticisms of Gravity’s Rainbow and at least still recognize that there are clearly ‘big ideas’ in there, in a manner that’s intellectually both playful and satisfying, whereas my mother ended up picking up Vineland however and said, “I hated it. It was painfully accurate about things I can’t stand thinking about anymore.” So in other words it’s about things that people don’t like thinking about (the relationship, for instance, between the feminist activist and the fascist CIA agent) and also stylistically his most excessive and least coherently structured.
(Seriously guys I can talk about Pynchon all day, the cat is out of the bag)
I don’t have a problem with any of those elements myself [in fact, I enjoy most of them,] but with Pynchon [or really any author] I’ve never been sure how well I’ve picked up on the themes and content, not being an English major, member of a book club or even really discussing the things I read . . .
That being said, Vineland may very well have been the Pynchon I most enjoyed reading which makes it even more puzzling why I stopped. Thankfully I can revisit it any time I wish since I’ve got a copy.
Ok I’m gonna start a topic about this cause I want to hear Polaris talk about Pynchon all day!
Ok, here is the thread – let’s continue this discussion there!