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The Crying of Lot 49,
This review is from: Crying Of Lot 49 (Paperback)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 plots.
Speaking of plot, there are two ways to describe it. One is to say that it is about Oedipa Maas wandering California trying to figure out a conspiracy that seems to involve everyone she knows. The other is to read the book. There really isn't any middle ground. The problem with that is that the former doesn't mention Vatican cover-ups, child movie stars, highly lethal cans of hair spray, horn symbols, a band by the name of the Paranoids who aren't, LSD-addicted radio announcers or archaic postal systems trying to destroy American society, while the latter would take up just over 150 pages, far beyond the scope of this review.
The writing is typical Pynchon. Some sections meander into ruminations on a character's psyche, or page-long sojourns into plays, conspiracies, wanderings, etc. Other paragraphs are so fast paced that if your mind wanders for a second, you'll miss something important and have no idea what is going on. Often these crucial sentences are buried within a morass of extraneous information, so readers should pay attention at all times.
The names are fun and ridiculous. Mike Fallopian, the duchy of Squamuglia, Yoyodyne, Wharfinger, Chiclitz, Dr Hilarious, the list goes on. Settings are predictable only in the way that they will be completely unpredictable, in essence, you never know when or where the story is going to take you next.
Does it end satisfactorily? Can Pynchon recover all the myriad threads into a cohesive whole? No. But then, if he did, the story wouldn't make sense. By being about paranoia and conspiracy, an actual concrete resolution would hurt the book more than it would help. The closing sentence is a perfect example of this, and will probably seem frustrating to a casual reader, but if you sit back and think about it, no other ending would suffice. A masterful work, one that is extremely accessible for those people who are (rightly) intimidated by the monster that is Gravity's Rainbow.