Thursday, July 07, 2011

Against the Day: Where the hell am I?

So I wanted to write about a brief sentence I read just last night in Pynchon's Against the Day. It was a little thing he did with dialog, which I was going to blow up into a larger thing we could all learn from.

But, leafing through the book, I can't find the line anywhere. It should, shouldn't it, be somewhere just to the left of the bookmark? Apparently, a few nights ago I put the bookmark in the wrong place, and so last night I resumed reading about 100 pages ahead of where I had actually stopped. Here's the thing: I did not notice. I am used, with Pynchon, to not remembering who each character is, and not knowing exactly where I am, setting-wise, in any given section. I had given myself over to the gestalt of the thing, and was reading along quite happily.

This is not so much a criticism of Pynchon (or me) as an aspect of the experience of reading him, which I think is mostly a fine one: sort of riding the whirlwind rather than trying to parse it. Parse away if you want, but I don't think it's strictly necessary to enjoy or even "get" the work.

On the other hand, after visit #2 in three days to Kitty ER, I was not at my sharpest last night. Keep a good thought for Zee. She is tired but feeling better--for much longer, this time, I hope.


Arlee Bird said...

I recently reviewed a book by Rick Moody which I found in some ways to be similar to what you've described here. In fact, there is a quote about the book from Thomas Pynchon on the book jacket. I've done something like this before where I scour a book trying to find something I wanted to quote, but never find it. Frustrating.

Tossing It Out

Ann said...

I suppose if we had e-readers we could just search for the phrase...but where's the fun in that?