20 September 2007

Against the Day, we all must fail

Shaun Mullen at The Moderate Voice relates:
I started reading Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon’s latest magnus opus, in early May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 13,136, the New York Mets led the National League East and 3,361 Americans had died in Iraq.

By the time I got to the 1,085th and final page the other day, the Dow stood at 13,423, the Mets led the National League East and 3,776 Americans had died in Iraq.

I can certainly empathize. I started Against the Day in early summer and my drive to finish what is undoubtedly a worthwhile novel waned a month or so later. I love Pynchon, but good lord, the man's writing is dense. Excellent, worthwhile, and rewarding, but dense.

With the exceptions of Crying of Lot 49 and a couple of others, I don't think I've ever managed to finish one of his books in one stretch. They're like a rich, multi-course meal; most likely, you'll enjoy it, but you may not be able to comfortably finish everything you're served and even if you can, you probably don't want to eat like that night after night for an extended period.

Pynchon should be savored, so when reading his work becomes like... well, work, I put it down without hesitation.

What did I pick up in its stead? Books one through six (thus far) of the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series. It's pretty much the same thing as Against the Day, but with lightsabers.

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