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Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Happy Birthday, Thomas Pynchon
U.S. writer Thomas Pynchon got started in the early 1970s, when the Cold War made the threat of Armageddon omnipresent. This is reflected in his post-modernistic writing style as well as his themes and characterization. Pynchon employs multiple perspectives to tell the stories in vivid bursts. Snippets of poetry alternate with long, incredibly detailed passages and introspective stream-of-consciousness narratives; he often throws in complex, seemingly interminable puns and detailed, if hard-to-parse, historical accounts. The total effect gives his prose a dramatic, often shocking quality, sometimes increased by scatalogical references to the human body.
Pynchon's first novel, V. (1963) is an absurd tale that juxtaposes scenes of 1950s hipster life with symbolic images of the entire century. The idea of conspiracy is central to The Crying of Lot 49 and his masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow, a moving novel about the end of World War II. He has lived in hiding or incognito for years, refusing to grant interviews or be photographed.
Rumored to live in California, Mexico, and most recently, New York City, Pynchon has remained reclusive and largely unknown, but his reputation as a significant American writer is assured.