5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crying of Lot 49
The Crying of Lot 49 was Pynchon's response to people who considered his first novel, V, to be too difficult, too complex and just plain old too weird to stomach. It is considerably shorter, clocking it at only 152 pages, but each one is jam packed full of patented Pynchon weirdness, with zany characters, ridiculously implausible scenarios and plots within plots within...
Published on April 17 2004 by Damian Kelleher
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You need to like the writing style to like the book
I was told that this book was a very good intellectual read. I am someone who had previously struggled through Joyce's Ulysses. As difficult for me as that book was, this one was a lot tougher to get through. I am not big on stream-of-consciousness writing and enormous difficulty understanding and following what was happening in this book.
I can see that the book...
Published on Oct 30 2003 by Michael A. Newman
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3.0 out of 5 stars Left me feeling kind of stupid,
What makes this different? Most importantly, I think, is that I felt no great attachment to any of the characters, especially not Oedipa Maas. Therefore, the intrigue is not nearly as compelling as it could be. Who cares about the conspiracy, W.A.S.T.E., Tristero, or Thurn and Taxis? Especially given the final outcome.
I do, however, give it three stars because it has some moments of brilliance. The revenge play is fantastic, the word play is often amusing, and it does have a hallucinatory feel.
Obviously, some people will like this more than I did. I fully accept that. If you're up for a challenge, enjoy language, and don't put a high premium on characterization or plot, then this is worth the read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy It - Point Blank!,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars .94 toL fo gniyrC ehT,
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't have much to say, really,
5.0 out of 5 stars Short Stunning Epic,
Enter the journey of Oedipa Maas, who follows the trail backwards in time of her dead husband. Is somebody following her? Or is she the one who is following? Pieces start fitting together, slowly- the etching of a muted horn on a bathroom stall, old stamps with spelling errors, a man-made lake with an interesting bottom, characters in a play with a little bit too much information- all this and much, much more.
Pynchon's novels are about 'information', regardless of how historical, accurate, absurd, erronous, redundant, symbolic, inconsistent, incomprehensible they are, or seem. Most authors create an objective autonomous system of values, characters, and logic within their novels. Pynchon trangresses these conservative formalisms- his writing is so distant and awkward, yet so humane and flesh-like. He is like no other writer. He stuffed an epic into a novella, about a woman who found out what was happening to her all along, in the end.
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than I can see.,
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and Fun!,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the Other Book.,
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite an Introduction,
However, that is not to say it is a bad novel. The story surrounds Oedipa Maas and the adventure she begins when she is called upon as executrix of the estate of her deceased ex-lover Pierce Invererity. Her quest forces her to confront her beliefs about the workings of society, her own lack of perception in the world around her and ultimately her own sanity. Pynchon writes in a dense, overflowing style where one often has to slow down or reread in order to fully absorb the utter volume of information that is either explicitly or implicitly stated in Pynchon's furious and emotional prose. Character depth is notexistant, but that is evidently Pynchon's plan as they are merely his tools to explore the various issues he raises and are not as vital to the work as his often philosophical pseudo-interpretation of events.
If you are into dense, high-intensity literature of the postmodern persuasion, then The Crying of Lot 49 is highly recommended. However, if you are looking to be entertained and don't want to sit around for hours afterward trying to puzzle out the implications of what you have read, Don DeLillo or Jack Kerouac are easier introductions to similar themes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awaiting Silent Tristero's Empire,
Which is not to say that it is a breeze--in fact, I'm sure I missed things in my first reading that will become more clear the second or third time around. The plot itself is quite complicated, and when you consider the book's brevity, the cast of characters can seem almost Tolstoyan (they tend to walk on and disappear later in an endless stream). Also, Pynchon makes good use of some richly gothic prose equal to anything by the deadly serious Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy--but we can rarely be sure if we should take Pynchon's prose at face value.
The first thing you'll probably notice here is the sheer humor. Just the names of the characters make me laugh: Oedipa and "Mucho" Maas, Dr. Hilarius, "Bloody" Chiclitz, Arnold Snarb. And as usual with Pynchon, you can count on a generous helping of hilarous, sometimes awful, songs. Try the corporate ditties from the Yoyodyne Aerospace company. This book had me practically rolling on the floor again and again.
The story centers on Oedipa Maas, the very likeable young woman saddled with the unfortunate task of executing the estate of Pierce Inverarity, her former lover. As she attempts to get his affairs in order, she becomes increasingly entangled in what may or may not be a worldwide conspiracy called the Tristero (also spelled Trystero). This conspiracy evidently began as a sort of terrorist group opposed to the mail-carrying family Thurn und Taxis, who really did have a monopoly of postal services in Europe for many decades. Thurn und Taxis are represented by the symbol of a post-horn, so Tristero chose a muted post-horn as its sign.
All this is meticulously researched by Pynchon, who's interests and reading experience seems to be endless. We get accurate information here about entropy and the perpetual-motion concept of Maxwell's Demon, the Thurn und Taxis family, Elizabethan Drama--too much to list here. Speaking of Elizabethan drama, Pynchon also includes the best parody of a revenge play ever written.
There is much more than knockabout humor here. The dreamlike night scene in San Francisco, when Oedipa keeps seeing the muted post horn again and again, is richly evocative, the scene in which Oedipa comforts the old man in his apartment is surprisingly touching, and near the end Pynchon gives us some eloquent philosophizing, but without interrupting the novel's flow. These scenes stick in the mind as much as the hilarous comedy parts with Metzger, the rock band The Paranoids, and the ex-Nazi psychiatrist Dr. Hilarius.
I wouldn't ever give away the ending, but be forewarned that it is enigmatic. If you want Dickensian wrap-up, don't touch this with a 30-foot pole. But it's not just the ending that's open: critics tend to agree that one of the major characteristics of Lot 49 is interpretive openness throughout--almost any event can be read in more than one way. Most salient is the question (raised by Pynchon himself) of whether the Tristero is real, a practical joke, or just in Oedipa's mind. This uncertainty is what fuels the claustrophobic paranoia in the book--a Pynchon trademark.
Other things are left unclear as well. For instance, what does Pierce Inverarity have to do with the plot? The Tristero seems inextricably tied in with him, and his last name, as at least one critic has pointed out, seems to suggest untruth. Pynchon leaves open the possiblity that the Tristero is simply the posthumous masterpiece of the jokester Inverarity. Another possiblity, mentioned by Harold Bloom, (though he doesn't agree with it) is that "lot 49" is related to 49 days after Passover--in other words, Pentecost is just around the corner. Pentecostalism is mentioned by one of the characters in the parodistic play, so we have yet another interpretation on our hands.
I'm pretty certain Pynchon intends for us to be mystified by all this, and that he doesn't know himself whether the Tristero is real or "what happens" after the end of the book. Extrapolating this mystification to the whole universe is an easy step to take, and clearly embodies Postmodern thought-- a system which has essentially given up the search for truth and assumes that, though many hypotheses can be proposed, the universe is ultimately inscrutable. Though I disagree with Pynchon's conclusions, they are very well-written conclusions. I couldn't accept the philosophical secion near the end, but I enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed the ending very much after I got over its bizarreness, and it's strangely effective, even infuriatingly delightful.
I'm annoyed by the fact that books are never reviewed for content the way movies are, so I'll briefly mention that here. This book is pretty much fine for high schoolers, with hardly any language and just a bit of sex--about one page. It's refreshing to see a living writer give us an effective book without the gratuitous vulgarity which characterizes so much modern literature.
In short, if you're looking for a piece of fiction a cut above the fluff which comprises 99% of current publications, read The Crying of Lot 49, and don't let the gothic prose daunt you. It'll have you in stitches, and make you think hard about some philosophical questions too.
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The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (Paperback - Oct 26 2006)
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