Thomas Pynchon is one of America’s great authors. His magnum opus, Gravity’s Rainbow, has bent minds and frustrated critics since its publication in 1973. He is the perfect model of post-modern literature, where every experience is disjointed and nothing is what it seems. You cannot make it through a Pynchon book and come out the other end trusting your senses. My favorite book from him is Mason and Dixon. It is set in colonial America, yet retains a palpable sense of modernity and “trippyness”. Only after you read it do you begin to understand what an accomplishment it is. I am proud to say that I made it through Gravity’s Rainbow as well, but not so proud to say that I can stand to read it a second, third and fourth time before I begin to understand it. There is still much more for me to read from Pynchon, but I am still recovering from my last venture into his world.
He is also very reclusive, rarely giving interviews and never showing his face. Again, this is the Pynchon irony. He writes books steeped in modernity, yet eschews the celebrity culture that defines a large part of that modernity. That explains the humor in the following clip from the Simpsons. Pynchon did the voice himself.
The Simpsons defines post-modern in 14 seconds:
Pynchon is the closest thing to an acid trip in American literature.