Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick question

I'm planning on making my first attempt at Pynchon soon, one or two books from now. When given a body of work I'm largely unfamiliar with and faced with a question of "where to start," I usually either approach randomly or chronologically. For those of you with familiarity, is starting chronologically, with V., advisable? Or should I begin elsewhere?

16 comments:

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

I've read Slow Learner, Crying of Lot 49, and Vineland. Started each of V and Gravity's Rainbow, finished neither. Have Mason & Dixon and never have cracked it open.

I liked Vineland. I'd start there.

BDR said...

Gravity's Rainbow. Dive straight into the deepest pool. If you dig, then Against the Day. It's the prequel, if written thirty years after.

Anonymous said...

I started with V, and it did me no harm at all before going on to Gravity's Rainbow. Crying of Lot 49 is early Pynchon and pretty short, so that may work for you as well. It's kinda weird to me that Pynchon has a rep for being "hard" or inaccessible - to me he's anything but.

Richard said...

I'd go with Crying of Lot 49, mainly because of length. I found V largely unreadable, but it may do with a second attempt. (To be fair, I'm not a big fan, so take my comments with the requisite grain of salt.)

George Jones said...

I've read GR, Lot 49, and about 300 pages of Against the Day. Of those, I'd start with Lot 49.

I'm not a terribly big fan either, though. The geeky tweeness can overwhelm.

Sally said...

I started with The Crying of Lot 49, then read Inherent Vice when it came out. I haven't read his more ambitious works, but both Lot 49 and Vice are very entertaining. I'll get around to the others eventually.

¯\(°_0)/¯ said...

V is my least favorite of his books, so I could not recommend starting with it. Crying of Lot 49 and Inherent Vice are both called "accessible," which I think is a euphemism for "short." I would go with CoL49 because it is short and gives a good taste of what his longer books are like.

Christopher M said...

Lot 49 was the first of his I'd read, and while it's not my favorite of his, I think it's a decent place to start - a lot of his themes are still present, but the cast and the narrative itself are at a more manageable size.

Ethan said...

Thanks everyone!

Crying of Lot 49 seems to be the larger consensus, I'm starting to weight it more heavily than I had before. V and Gravity's Rainbow also heavily in there. Augh what to do.

Anonymous said...

lot 49, then vineland, then everything else if you still like the guy.

Soj said...

V sucks, Gravity's Rainbow is on my top 5 books of all time. Dense as hell but don't let it discourage you. Just keep slogging through it and by the time you get to Raketemensch you'll be enthralled! :D

davidly said...

Trust me, Lot 49 is the way to go. It has elements you'll appreciate that you might not in the others; whereas if you begin with something else, it may keep you from this one.

Jonathan Versen said...

Yes, Crying of Lot 49. It's short and early.

Ethan said...

Thank you everyone--I think I've decided to go with Lot 49 and then, if all goes according to plan, an attempt at tackling Gravity's Rainbow shortly thereafter.

Soj said...

Enjoy your reading! And if you ever DO decide to tackle Mason & Dixon, be sure to have a copy of the OED on hand as there's a ton of antiquated words (such as "tangerine man") which cannot be parsed by a modern reader.

Ethan said...

Thanks for the tip. M&D isn't on the top of my list, but I do want to get to it eventually, it seems fascinating.