Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon

I’ve always wondered what my reading history would look like as a graphic. I have this idea of plotting every book I’ve ever read on a wall based on how similar the books are to each other taking into account e.g. genre, when and where it was written, maybe even some personal history of the author, and how much I liked it. It clearly won’t be easy. In my head it looks a lot like those walls of evidence in detective movies with maps, photos, newspaper clippings and lots and lots of criss-crossing red string.

Some of the patterns will be quickly obvious–I read a lot of science fiction, or at least I used to, and my fair share of the classics–others, less so. For example, I was in a bookshop once with my friend V. and I was talking about Tom Robbins and comparing him to Thomas Pynchon when we came across a book by Matt Ruff who I also really like. She hadn’t heard of him so I was telling her how it had that same irreverence (which is the best way I can describe these three authors) but not as heavy, when I turned over the book and there was a quote on the back from Pynchon comparing Ruff to Robbins. Stuff like that.

More to the point, Pynchon is amazing, even when I have no clue as to what he’s on about. V., his first novel, was like a 500pp prose poem where the slightest lapse in concentration meant I had no idea where I was, what was happening, or even who we’re talking about. It was eminently unreadable (in the most devastatingly incredible way imaginable!) and every word was solid literary gold. From that moment on I knew I had to read him or die trying. If Mason & Dixon doesn’t do it, or Against the Day after that, there’s always Jelinek’s German translation of Gravity’s Rainbow. That ought to be something.

-Reading the Why


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