Monday, January 21, 2008
Against all odds
Well, I finally finished Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel. Unfortunately, I found its length excessive, even for Pynchon, and would have a hard time saying what the novel was about. The novel is set in the twenty years or so preceding World War I, based around the Traverse family in the coal mining fields in Colorado. The patriarch is killed by capitalist interests, and the novel follows his four children in the aftermath. There is also an airship and its five-member crew, a counterfactual group sort of like Tom Swift, who don't appear to age at the same rate as everyone else. But the plot is too byzantine to matter much, and even though there were some occasional moments of levity, I'm left wondering what else I could have done with the month that I spent on the novel. I loved Gravity's Rainbow and the more recent Mason and Dixon, and would recommend either of those before this one. If you want more details on Against the Day, there are some excellent resources on the net, including an excellent article at Wikipedia, which in turn has links to many other reviews and discussions.
My favorite line from the book, after some characters had a hard night of partying: "Morning came straining in through eyelashes and bootsoles, welcome as a marshal with a saddlebag full of warrants."