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New Thomas Pynchon book on the way?

October 3, 2008 |  8:05 am

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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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