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Friday, December 1, 2023

Final Open Letter to Thomas Pynchon

Dear Thomas; I've tried. Really, I have. 

After failing on at least three separate occasions to crack V - your critically acclaimed debut novel from 1963 - I decided to switch tactics. Did some research and discovered in 2012 that one of my all-time favorite literary critics - John Leonard - had read you widely enough to quote passages from all three of your earliest books - including V - in his 1990 review of your novel Vineland. Although Leonard's review in Reading for My Life intimidated me, months after reading it - and writing you the first open letter on my blog - I tried V, again. Still only managed to get as far as page 61. But the remaining 402 pages of V was not the end of my Pynchon-quest. 

Reflections From The Bell Curve: A Bookworm's Catnip

Although I can offer no plausible explanation for my behavior, after noticing The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) cited in the appendix of Kenneth Davis's Great Short Books (2022), I began lobbying a reading soulmate to help me prolong my quest. At just 152 pages, I guessed it wouldn't be difficult to coerce this discerning, adventurous reader and good friend to join me even if doing so might result in us crying in lot 49 ourselves. After she signed on, we invited another serious reader to join us, and the Pynchon-A-Thon was scheduled.  

The good news: 1.) We all finished The Crying ... and conducted our Pynchon-A-Thon amicably. 2.) The quest has ended, even though I took the easy way out via reading your shortest book, by a wide margin. I have one final question for you before I depart Pynchonstan forever. In 2014 - while still licking my V wounds, but years before being persuaded by Kenneth Davis to ask others to join me in my quest - I saw the film adaptation of your 2009 novel Inherent Vice. In your view, how well did director/screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson get your book? I know I asked you a similar question about John Leonard in my first open letter in 2012 but please indulge me. My two reading friends may also be interested, if indeed they are still my friends.

Reflections From The Bell Curve: Open Letter: Thomas Pynchon


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