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Thomas Pynchon's novels will finally be released as e-books

June 12, 2012 |  2:26 pm

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For the first time, Thomas Pynchon's back catalog will be available as e-books starting Wednesday. Pynchon was a major writer whose absence from the e-book canon was notable -- particularly since his most avid readers tend to be intellectually curious, the kind of people who are often technology's early adopters.

Many of Pynchon's books deal with technology in one form or another, from the bombings of "Gravity's Rainbow" to the fringes of the aerospace industry of "The Crying of Lot 49" and the oddities of the 1893 World's Fair in "Against the Day." As e-books have emerged, Pynchon has let the technology pass by; not anymore.

“There has been a great desire to have all of Tom’s books in digital format now, for many years. He didn’t want to not be part of that,” Ann Goodoff, president of his publisher, Penguin Press, told the New York Times. “I think he wants to have more readers,” she said. “Every writer wants to have as many readers as they can possibly get. But I don’t think this will change his public profile, in terms of him being out there in public. In fact, I know it won’t.”

Pynchon, 75, is a notoriously private author who has declined to speak to the media for decades. Although it's not easy to be a recluse in the Internet age, Pynchon has largely avoided being photographed and has otherwise stayed out of the public literary sphere. Apparently, his books being available electronically will not change that.

Seven Pynchon novels and his short story collection "Slow Learner" go on sale Wednesday as e-books. Chronologically they are "V" (1963), "The Crying of Lot 49" (1966), "Gravity's Rainbow" (1973), "Vineland" (1990), "Mason & Dixon" (1997), "Against the Day" (2006), and "Inherent Vice" (2009). They will be priced from $9.99 to $12.99.

One technology that Pynchon has welcomed is the fax machine. His old friend, Phyllis Gebauer, when announcing a donation of a (very rare) complete set of signed first editions of Pynchon's books, talked about communicating with Pynchon via fax. "I was planning to skydive into the middle of these proceedings," Pynchon joked in a fax to her. Gebauer donated her Pynchon collection to the UCLA Extension writers program, where she had taught for many years. "Thank you for your teaching," Pynchon's fax continued. "Good work and good vibes to everybody there."

RELATED:

Happy (day late) Pynchon in Public Day!

Book review: "Inherent Vice" by Thomas Pynchon

When Thomas Pynchon is just Tom: A remarkable collection debuts

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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