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New Thomas Pynchon book on the way?


Rumors have begun circulating that Thomas Pynchon is at work on a new novel. And the rumors are pretty specific. Author Steven Moore has spoken to someone connected to Pynchon:

The rep told me it's around 400 pages, and is a kind of noir detective story set in the 1960s, with lots of psychedelia as background. How groovy is that!

The famously reclusive Pynchon has never been known for working fast. Fans waited 17 years after "Gravity's Rainbow" for "Vineland," and then another seven for "Mason & Dixon." In 2006 -- after nine more years -- "Against the Day" was published. That novel was, for some, a return to Pynchon at his best: funny, complicated, absurd, smart. Others had kind of a love-hate relationship to the book, like "The Economist," which wrote:

Is it any good ? Baffling, yes. Clever and inventive in a cackling, manic, mad-professor kind of way, yes. Intermittently warmed by paragraph-long sunbeams of iridescent prose-poetry, yes. Rambling, pompous and often completely incomprehensible -- yes to all that too.

Packed with scientific ephemera, "Against the Day" was massive -- 1,085 pages -- and came out less than two years ago. Some readers were exhausted by it. Pynchon, certainly, wouldn't be blamed for taking a rest. But here it is, 22 months since his last book, and we're hearing news of a novel in progress that has not just a premise (noir), not just a tone (psychedelic), but a page count! And it's due next year, in 2009!

This rumor started on a William Gaddis mailing list. And while it might be nothing more than an Internet rumor, the idea of an Internet rumor fits so well into Pynchon's themes of paranoia and secret information that fans (like me) can't help but embrace it. I'm going to go finish the last 400 pages of "Against the Day" so I can be ready.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by bjohnson via Flickr.

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If I ever finish Mason and Dixon, maybe I'll read the new one.

This is very excellent.

Hot diggity! First Denis Johnson goes noir, now maybe the great Mister Pynchon too! Sincerely hope this rumour turns out to be true. BTW, where's the ongoing discussion about part 4 of Johnson's Nobody Move? Have read all four parts countless times now myself and the whole shooting match is a beautifully-crafted little scorcher. Snaps shut perfectly so it does.

With the closing section of Against the Day in mind, and recalling Lew Basnight (Gawd, how that character's name makes one clench reflexively) and his L.A. offices, "in those swank new buildings going up along Broadway..." and his all-girl team of muscle who double as "stunt" performers for the movies, all of this circa the late work of Raymond Chandler... and then maybe stirring this up with the kind of flashback material found in Vineland... well one's still almost certain to fall wide of the mark at guessing what Thomas Pynchon might be up to.
Nevertheless, I was struck by Pynchon's evident fondness for the hard-boiled genre at the end of his last novel... Smashing genres in the particle accelerator that is Thomas Pynchon's imagination is something to look forward to reading the results of. And since Pynchon, along with everything else, is also one of our greatest political novelists, his revisiting the '60s might well prove illuminating come the Summer of '09. Who knows? But oboy, what a thrill to know this book is in our future. Let's hope we do have one...

Dear Ms. Kellogg,

Thanks for confirming.

Something to think about: in certain literary circles---see John Leonard's review of "Vineland",-- it is believed, with some supposed inside knowledge of grant possiblities, that Mr. Pynchon was working on many [big] books simultaneously.

This could explain much regarding Mr. Pynchon's later-in-life 'productivity'---perhaps rivalling the oft-cited Philip Roth's---if true.

Thank You,

Mark Kohut

Maybe a detective story reintroducing Nate Privett ?
Who (really) knows.

After I finished reading Thomas Pynchon's "Against the Day," I thought I'd accomplished something in my reading, not so much the length over 1,000 pages but the way his imagination flows. Including I thought David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" was fun!! I'm looking forward to Pynchon's new novel when it's published. Because next to the great Toni Morrison there's nobody better. Oh I forgot (John Updike & William Gaddis) for different reasons I have to express their noteworthy mention in the check box...


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