Thomas Pynchon — "Against The Day"

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Amazon.Com — die berühmte Amazon–Seite, deren Inhalt kurz da, dann weg und schließlich wieder da war — wie ein Flickern, ein Flimmern, ein Flirren, eine Oszillation.

Penguin group (USA) — Pynchons einleitender Text auf der Seite des Herausgebers.

Random House — die Seite des britischen Herausgebers zum neuen Roman.

"Against the Day" Wiki — von Tim Ware, Webmaster der Hyperarts Pynchon Pages.

Excerpt from Against the Day — From the Penguin Press catalog, The Modern Word.

Against the Day — Collection of reviews at Vheissu.

"Now single up all lines!" — Collection of reviews at The Modern Word.

Abstruse topics in Pynchon’s Against the Day — Wikipedia article.

The Chumps of Choice Blog — "A Congenial Spot for the Discussion of Against the Day, by Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Cornell ’59, and Any Other Damned Thing That Comes Into Our Heads. Warning: Grad Students and Willie–Wavers will be mocked."

December launch for Thomas Pynchon’s latest novelThe Guardian, 21. Juli 2006.

Even Thomas Pynchon Digs Sexy Publicity Stunts!The Phoenix, 21. Juli 2006:

"This is the stuff of dreams! The internerd’s crazy Pynchon cult has got its collective groupie panties in a twist over the author’s not–so–anonymous posting. (…) God, we adore Pynchon fans. Here’s one example of their breathless speculation before Penguin confirmed that it was indeed Pynchon who authored the post: "All new counter culturs are hypertextual, web–based, the best way for Pynchon to push the envelope is to bring the new subculture into the 'game' the best way to do that is hypertextually by entertaining 'tickling the creature' about what they are obsessed with (they are obsessed with Pynchon the recluse, the hoax photos, what have you)." That is, like, totally what we were thinking."

The Literary Saloon Archive — 24. Oktober 2006. — Da packt einen schon der Neid, wenn man jemanden ein Vorausexemplar lesen sieht! Wenigstens erfahren wir so, dass der Roman fünf Teile hat, sich über 1085 Seiten und ungefähr 410000 Worte erstreckt und an Bord eines Luftschiffes beginnt, dessen Passagiere sich auf dem Weg zur Weltausstellung 1884 in Chikago befinden. Das einleitende Zitat ist von Thelonious Monk und die fünf Teile des Romans heissen:

1. The Light Over the Ranges
2. Iceland Spar
3. Bilocations
4. Against the Day
5. Rue du Départ

Song of Himself — by Boris Kachka, New York Mag, Fall 2006 Book Preview:

"No one knows how much readers anticipate Thomas Pynchon’s sixth novel — his first in nine years — more than Pynchon. You can tell from the self–mockingly breathless catalogue copy for Against the Day, which the recluse wrote himself. Promising a historical epic even longer than his 773–page Mason & Dixon, he rattles off a few dozen locales and characters but reassures fans that "Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business."

Promoting Pynchon — The legendary reclusive novelist has a new book out next month. But don’t try to talk to him about it — By Jeffrey Ressner, TIME, 20. Oktober 2006:

"How do you market a book written by a publicity–shy author? That’s the challenge facing Penguin Press as it readies the November 21st publication of Against the Day, a 1,120–page epic by the reclusive literary lion Thomas Pynchon." (…) "The fact that he has a dedicated following makes up for him not doing The Today Show," says Michael Russo, manager of St. Marks Bookstore in New York’s Greenwich Village. "The morning his last book came out, we had people outside our doors waiting for us to open. It wasn’t like a line for a Rolling Stones concert, but it’s the kind of interest only a few authors can generate."

Pynchon’s ‘Against the Day’ GlowsPublishers Weekly, 24. Oktober 2006:

"Knotty, paunchy, nutty, raunchy, Pynchon’s first novel since Mason & Dixon (1997) reads like half a dozen books duking it out for his, and the reader’s, attention. Most of them shine with a surreal incandescence, but even Pynchon fans may find their fealty tested now and again. Yet just when his recurring themes threaten to become tics, this perennial Nobel bridesmaid engineers another never–before–seen phrase, or effect, and all but the most churlish resistance collapses. (…) Now pushing 70, Pynchon remains the archpoet of death from above, comedy from below and sex from all sides. His new book will be bought and unread by the easily discouraged, read and reread by the cult of the difficult. True, beneath the book’s jacket lurks the clamor of several novels clawing to get out. But that rushing you hear is the sound of the world, every banana peel and dynamite stick of it, trying to crowd its way in, and succeeding."

Pynchon Fans Eager to Feast on New Novel — By Hillel Italie (Associated Press), The Globe and Mail, 11. November 2006. Der auf der Pynchon–Liste wohl umstrittenste Artikel zum Erscheinen des neuen Romans des Meisters. Befragt nach ihren Erwartungen werden der Künstler Zak Smith, Webmaster Tim Ware, Charles Hollander und Doug Millison:

"Pynchon fans tend to take his work seriously I think because, beyond the intrinsically interesting subject matter and intriguing stories, his books are so rich and complex, touching on so many topics," says Pynchon fan Doug Millison, a writer, editor and Web design consultant based in El Cerrito, Calif. Pynchon is now 69, but time, and the Internet, have advanced in his favour. It’s been nine years since his previous novel, "Mason & Dixon," came out, and fans have fully digitized their passion, building an online community worthy of an author who as much as anyone brought a high–tech sensibility to literary fiction. Numerous Web sites and a "Pynchon News Service" have been launched, and a team of experts is busy assembling a Wikipedia–like page for "Against the Day." "It will, I predict, quickly become a focus of the several hundred reader–researchers worldwide who read Pynchon and write about his works in academic and popular media," Millison says. "The Internet has made it easy for Pynchon’s academic critics and lay readers to find each other and sustain an online discussion that’s continued now for over a decade."

God Fearing — By John Wilson, The New York Times, 12. November 2006.

"There’s been a lot of talk about the tantalizing announcement of Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, "Against the Day," coming later this month. But let me draw attention to a throwaway line from the one–page excerpt in the publisher’s catalog that may have escaped your notice. "It’s O.K, we’re open–minded," says the leader of a gang interrupted in the midst of a robbery; "couple boys in the outfit are evangelicals." The setting is Colorado in 1899, but Pynchon has his eye on the present. And part of the job of a writer in 2006, so it seems, is to comment on evangelicals or "conservative Christians" more generally, the way that many writers in the late ’60s and early ’70s — novelists, poets, cultural critics, anyone whose opinions regularly appeared in print — felt obliged to weigh in on blackness, often with embarrassing results."

Pynchon vs. the Toaster: The literary master’s dazzling, dizzying 1,085–page new novel is not for those looking for a snack — by Richard Lacayo, TIME, 12. November 2006:

"Ordinary novelists have readers. Thomas Pynchon has decoders. Anyone who has ventured into the manic densities of Gravity’s Rainbow or Mason & Dixon knows the drill. You comb through his superabundance of historical data and scientific arcana. You adjust your nerve endings to operate at his mad frequencies. Day after day you resume the steep ascent of his achievement and just hope to make camp before nightfall. (…) More than in any of Pynchon’s previous books, just what it all means is a problem in Against the Day, where plots and ideas and fantastic developments pile up in exhausting profusion. You’ve been vouchsafed once again his vision of a bright, beleaguered world, this one with more than its share of resemblances to our realities post—Sept. 11. With another few decades of reading and decoding, you may even get the work’s largest intentions to snap into focus. Or maybe not. For all its brilliant passages, this is the book that makes you wonder whether even Pynchon knows what lies behind all those veils he’s always urging us to part. But wouldn’t you know it? Even when he jumps the shark, he does it with an agility that can take your breath away."

The complete review’s Reviewthe complete review, 14. November 2006:

"Yes, "sometimes a Tatzelwurm is only a Tatzelwurm", but Pynchon never seems to make it that easy or obvious. To fully enjoy Against the Day one has to accept that the larger picture won’t come into sharp relief — though many of the pieces and stories from it are (or seem) as clear as day. It isn’t really difficult, but in its multiple progressions can be frustrating (especially since the game goes on for so long). It’s not a book for everyone, but Pynchon’s writing, and his characters and invention, offer many rewards."

Light reading — Thomas Pynchon’s up Against the Day — By Peter Keough, The Phoenix, 14. November 2006:

"Maybe writers should avoid the light, whether describing its effect or analyzing its nature, and instead leave it to experts like painters and physicists to worry about. On the other hand, as the Bible points out, it was the Word that turned on the light in the first place, and perhaps that’s why Thomas Pynchon has written a Bible–length book on that and many other subjects. Undaunted in the past by the big questions that bug a guy, he here takes on, in addition to the elusive quality of light (or perhaps these are all just variations on the same), time travel, multiple universes, the death struggle between anarchism and capitalism, the dance of order and chaos. (…) Having flunked Introductory Calculus in college, I will venture instead that Pynchon is kind of the anti–Beckett. Whereas Beckett”s works grew inexorably shorter as he confronted the intransigence of meaninglessness, Pynchon’s proliferate with Joycean abandon. The day his characters dread, whether nihilist bomb throwers or the Chums of Chance, is the day he stops writing."

Pynchon: He Who Lives By the List, Dies by It — by Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun, November 15, 2006:

"After reading "Against the Day" (Penguin Press, 1,085 pages, $35), however, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Pynchon’s difficulty is really just the costume worn by his simplicity. The complexity of his novels, and of this eagerly awaited sixth novel in particular, is really a matter of simple multiplicity: They are stuffed to bursting with oddities, so that the reader moves through them at the halting pace of a rubbernecker. In "Against the Day," which spans the quarter–century between the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and the end of World War I, Mr. Pynchon dispenses his oddities in double fistfuls. We get a hot–air balloon crewed by boy adventurers, a dynamite–toting anarchist, a mysterious fourth dimension, a crystal lens that splits time, a ship that can sail through sand, the legendary Tibetan kingdom of Shambhala — and that doesn’t even begin to exhaust the list." The list — there is the glory, and the downfall, of Mr. Pynchon’s fiction."

You Hide, They Seek — by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, 15. November 2006:

"The NEW novel itself is long (not quite 1,100 pages) and dense, sometimes brilliant and sometimes tiresome, and occasionally very silly (the cameo appearance, for example, by Elmer Fudd). It is also remarkably resistant to capsule summary. Oh, what the hell. Here goes anyway: Against the Day is a historical novel about the secret relationship among dynamite, photography, and multidimensional vector spaces that treats the emergence of the 20TH century Zeitgeist from a clash between revolutionary anarchism and the plutocratic Establishment. See? To discuss the book adequately would demand a seminar lasting four months, which is also the ideal period required for reading the book — instead of the four days it took one reviewer, who then promptly had a mild nervous breakdown. (…) As readers will soon be able to see for themselves, Against the Day certainly feels like a man writing two or three novels at the same time. Whole dissertations will be written about how the different parts and layers create a consciousness–bending structure in four–dimensional spacetime. But it was the passing mention of a two–dimensional surface that gave me a slightly deja vu–like feeling. At one point, a character reaches for "a block of paper quadrilled into quarter–inch squares." Graph paper, that is, exactly like the kind Pynchon used for his letter. More than a coincidence, but less than meaningful? Like Oedipa Maas at the end of Lot 49, I’m really not sure."

"Against the Day": Thomas Pynchon’s novel is high–voltage — by John Freeman, The Seattle Times, 17. November 2006:

"Welcome back to Pynchonland, where wormholes in time are as common as potholes, and the real world overlaps with the imaginary in a most colorful weave. (…) Electricity, as Pynchon has noted before, has a kind of Nietzschean "will to power" — it wants to be discharged, but it must be guided by a humanity. In the wrong hands, it becomes dangerous or simply a vehicle for making more money. Remarkably, and with a whiff of optimism that is new for Pynchon, "Against the Day" proceeds as if the verdict is still out on which way our ability to light up the skies and obscure the heavens might go."

Reviewing Thomas Pynchon — In Installments: Pynchon on the Installment Plan — by Malcolm Jones, Newsweek, 17. November 2006:

"Reading a Thomas Pynchon novel can feel like a life’s work — so this reviewer decided to respond in kind: herewith part one of a serial review of ‘Against the Day.’"

Es ist natürlich schwierig, ein so dickes Buch in so kurzer Zeit zu lesen und dann auch noch etwas Verständiges darüber zu sagen.

'Reader beware ...' — by Ian Rankin, The Guardian, 18.November 2006:

"It will be a challenging book — Pynchon’s novels are nothing if not challenging — and I’ll be first in the queue to buy it, because (in an all–too–Pynchonesque twist) the joint UK and US embargo on reviewing the book meant I was not able to read it prior to commencing this appreciation. (…) Pynchon himself describes Against the Day as 1,000 pages of "stupid songs, strange sexual practices … obscure languages" and "contrary–to–the–fact occurrences". To which I say: bring it on."

Rankin fühlt sich bei dem Pynchon–Charakter Zoyd Wheeler aus "Vineland" an "The Dude" aus dem Film "The Big Lebowski" erinnert und als jemand, der Beides mag, den Roman wie den Film, möchte ich sagen: kein schlechter Vergleich.

Back in the Aether Again — by Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch, 18./19. November 2006:

"Some critics will gripe that the novel is incomplete; that it leads nowhere, but this is not the case. This novel leads to the beginning of the human catastrophe we now call history–the Twentieth Century. Just as Gravity’s Rainbow provided a uniquely subversive and anarchistically creative perspective on the world created in the destruction of World War Two, Against the Day provides us with a similarly subversive perspective on the opening act to the drama in which that war was Act Two. Despite the bleakness of the times that these tales are told, an indomitable beauty resides within them, thanks in large part to the characters Mr. Pynchon creates, the stories that they live, and the approach to the telling by the author."

It’s a sprawled world, after all — by Scott McLemee, Newsday, 19. November 2006:

"Thomas Pynchon’s complex ‘Against the Day’ features bomb–throwing anarchists, pre–Einsteinian physics, Balkan politics and bisexual romance. (…) It is brilliant. It is oblique, and in some ways obtuse. Very few people will finish it. I read the whole thing in a few days, which is not an experience to be recommended. (Sometime around page 800, it felt as if my brain were trying to claw its way out of my skull.) You should expect to do some homework. It certainly helps to keep E.T. Bell’s classic "Men of Mathematics" close at hand, in case references to William Hamilton’s quaternions or Georg Riemann’s zeta function do not produce an immediate glimmer of recognition."

Post–modern Pynchon: The novelist considers modern times — by Christopher Sorrentino, LA Times, 19. November 2006:

"Nearly 50 years into the Thomas Pynchon era, it’s our failing if we don’t understand the author’s manner and method, which are inseparable from the artifacts he has produced. Despite the legendary slowness of his process, and his even more legendary "reclusiveness," Pynchon has delivered seven books, including four massive novels. Yet is there another contemporary "master" whose career is more routinely subjected to reassessment with each new work? Pynchon, of course, has brought a lot of this upon himself. Though his fiction helped to define the very idea of literary postmodernism, the best and most concise adjective to define it is still the tautological "Pynchonesque" (…)."

The Marxist Brothers — by Steven Moore, The Washington Post, 19. November 2006:

"A long–awaited work from the elusive cult novelist. News of an upcoming Pynchon novel has the same effect on the literati that an unscheduled return of Halley’s comet would have on astronomers. The Internet started humming with rumors last June, and, after five months of anticipation, the mammoth volume has arrived and is everything a Pynchon fan could hope for. Against the Day is his longest novel, his most international in scope — from the mountains of Colorado to the deserts of Inner Asia — and is perhaps his funniest. (…) Pynchon fans will accept this gift from the author with gratitude, but I’m not so sure about mainstream readers. While Against the Day isn’t as difficult as some of Pynchon’s other novels, its multiple story lines test the memory, and some folks may be scared off by the heady discussions of vectors, Brownian movements, zeta functions and so forth, not to mention words and phrases from a dozen languages scattered throughout. Politically, this is blue–state fiction: It will not play well in Bush country. "Capitalist Christer Republicans" are a recurring target of contempt, and bourgeois values are portrayed as essentially totalitarian. As in his last historical novel, Mason & Dixon, Pynchon draws parallels between the past and present — there’s a brilliant evocation of the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, where Pynchon lives — and it’s clear that the worldly author doesn’t see much difference between the corruption of the late Gilded Age and that of our own era. Not for everybody, perhaps, but those who climb aboard Pynchon’s airship will have the ride of their lives. History lesson, mystical quest, utopian dream, experimental metafiction, Marxist melodrama, Marxian comedy — Against the Day is all of these things and more."

Thomas Pynchon’s "Against the Day" — by Roger Gathman, Austin American Statesman, 19. November 2006:

"This is the saddest review I will ever write. (…) All writers write under some threat. Some have immediate deadlines to meet. Some have reputations to make. Some have reputations to maintain. Pynchon, famously reclusive, tried not to become a writer–celebrity. With "Vineland," he almost visibly ratcheted his reputation down to a more manageable level. With "Mason and Dixon," he mainstreamed himself for the critics who found him slightly scary. "Against the Day," weighing in at more than 1,100 pages, promised a return to form for those of us who were still hanging in there. Forget it, fellow Pynchonians. This isn’t "Gravity’s Rainbow II." That time, that place and that writer won’t ever come together again."

Ehrlich gesagt hatte ich das auch gar nicht erwartet, und nach den bisherigen Beschreibungen klingt es auch eher wie "Vineland II", was da aus den Reviews zu entnehmen ist.

Pynchon weighs in: Jokey, dense, 1,085 pages — by by Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 19. November 2006:

"Beginning with Chicago’s World Fair of 1893, and progressing through the end of World War I — a Gilded Age of corrosive capitalism and religio–scientific eccentricities and clashes—- the four children of murdered Colorado anarchist Webb Traverse (Reef, Kit, Frank, and Lake) go their separate ways (settings include Mexico, Colorado, New York, London, Russia, Paris, Budapest, Gottingen, and "Shambala"), in some cases seeking revenge on murderous magnate Scarsdale Vibe while mysterious international groups of hydrogen–skyship fliers, arcane mathematicians, and anarcho–terrorists do their skulky business."

Plugging away at a new leviathan — by Jean Dubail, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 19. November 2006:

"Against the Day" has all of the trademarks of vintage Pynchon — zany humor, allusive dialogue, fascination with dark corners of science and history, a general air of mystery and paranoia. But it also has something rare in his other books — a shrewd understanding of family, and even scenes of real tenderness, particularly between parents and children. It could be read, in fact, as a family saga, which is the last thing most of us would expect from the author of "V." and "Gravity’s Rainbow."

It’s worth breaking out of author comfort zone — by Donna Liquori, The Times Union, 19. November 2006:

Until recently, the novelist Thomas Pynchon wasn’t even on my radar screen. That lapse in my reading background was brought to my attention — somewhat forcefully — by two guys at a Halloween party. Their excitement about his upcoming new book, "Against the Day" (Penguin; 1,120 pages; $35) was so powerful, I just had to order a review copy. It took me a while to embrace his style of writing, and I’m still working my way through it, but every word is worth it. At first, I didn’t think I’d like the book but I found some of his characters floating through my dreams. It’s a departure from my usual fare, and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I never read Thomas Pynchon. It is, I’m afraid, a girl thing."

Inspired Chaos — by Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, 19. November 2006:

A skyship, 'Anarchism,' and characters from robber baron to rebel blaze in the reflection of Pynchon’s pyrotechnics (…) "Against the Day" is Pynchon’s longest novel — a not–unterrifying 300 pages longer than "Gravity’s Rainbow." It’s as much genre–bending as mind–bending, with elements of epic (of course), sci–fi, Western, historical novel, paranoid thriller, comedy, adventure story, young adult novel (that skyship), picaresque novel, political novel, and musical comedy."

A Pynchonesque Turn by Pynchon — by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, 20. November 2006:

"Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, "Against the Day," reads like the sort of imitation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that a dogged but ungainly fan of this author’s might have written on quaaludes. It is a humongous, bloated jigsaw puzzle of a story, pretentious without being provocative, elliptical without being illuminating, complicated without being rewardingly complex."

Return of Pynchon, the literary hermit — by Matt Ford, The First Post, 20. November 2006:

"Like the baby–boomer beatniks who first discovered him in the early 1960s, Pynchon has grown up and become part of the establishment; accepted and unchallenged. Does he still possess the fiery talent that justified his elevation to this lofty post? If I could only get hold of a copy of the book, I might be able to offer an opinion."

Do the Math — by Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 20. November 2006:

"Thomas Pynchon is the apostle of imperfection, so it is arguably some sort of commendation to say that his new novel, "Against the Day" (Penguin; $35), is a very imperfect book. Imperfect not in the sense of "Ambitious but flawed." Imperfect in the sense of "What was he thinking?" (…) So what was Pynchon thinking? To begin with, he was apparently thinking what he usually thinks, which is that modern history is a war between utopianism and totalitarianism, counterculture and hegemony, anarchism and corporatism, nature and techne, Eros and the death drive, slaves and masters, entropy and order, and that the only reasonably good place to be in such a world, given that you cannot be outside of it, is between the extremes. (…) Authorial sympathy in Pynchon’s novels always lies on the "transcend all questions of power," countercultural side of the struggle; that’s where the good guys—the oddballs, dropouts, and hapless dreamers—tend to gather. But his books also dramatize the perception that resistance to domination can develop into its own regime of domination. The tendency of extremes is to meet, and perfection in life is a false Grail, a foreclosure of possibility, a kind of death. Of binaries beware."

Shy novelist delivers sixth book — and wishes his readers luck — By Alex Massie, The Telegraph, 20. November 2006:

"It’s amazing," said Tim Ware, "curator" of a fans’ web site. "It’s really the culmination of all that Pynchon has written before, with the myriad characters, humour, technology, intricate structure and wonderful writing."

Pynchon’s First Novel in 10 Years Has Sex, Math, Explosives — by Craig Seligman,, 20. November 2006:

"Having finally finished, I felt like an exhausted swimmer crawling onto the far shore of a body of water that turned out to be even wider than it looked. And like the swimmer, I remember more about the effort than the scenery I passed along the way."

Sky’s the Limit — by John Freeman, New City Chicago, 20. November 2006:

"Welcome back to Pynchonland, where wormholes to other dimensions are as common as potholes, and the real world overlaps with the imaginary in a colorful weave. "Against the Day" opens somewhere between the two in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, where a group of verse–happy balloonists named the Chums of Chance (tidier cousins of the Whole Sick Crew of "V") alight to discover a city bathed in light, a hallmark of the arrival of the Second Industrial Revolution, which would electrify the nation’s factories. "Vagabonds of the void," their purpose in the Windy City is to keep an eye on some anarchists on the street below for a shadowy employer. (…) Electricity, as Pynchon has noted before about technology, is a conduit for power. In the wrong hands, it becomes dangerous—lethal—or simply a vehicle for making more money. Remarkably, and with a whiff of optimism that is new for Pynchon, "Against the Day" proceeds as if the verdict is still out on which way our ability to light up the skies and obscure the heavens might go."

The Modern Word Review — by Allan Ruch, The Modern Word, 20. November 2006:

"As the committed Pynchon fan will have certainly noted, Against the Day continues the author’s life–long obsessions: the border between magic and science, the reduction of commerce to transactions of flesh, the destructive capacity of classification, and the projection of new worlds. All the lines are indeed singled up: Against the Day shares the historical breadth of V., the lyrical clarity that illuminates the enigmas of Lot 49, the lunatic cast and hybrid vigor of Gravity’s Rainbow, the spirit of political inquiry that humanizes Vineland, and the manic, creative density of Mason & Dixon. Adding to these tropes of wonder, paranoia, and division, Against the Day seems to be developing a set of complex metaphors revolving around altitude, light, and mirror imagery. Again, being less than a quarter of the way through, I’m reluctant to say more on this topic; but there is a signal there, building slowly, like a background noise heard throughout the book: the throbbing of engines humming through the rigging. After I have finished, I will return and elaborate on this "review." Undoubtedly for some, Against the Day will remain a bloated gasbag bereft of direction and meaning. But for those willing to suspend disbelief and leave the ground behind, Pynchon’s great Inconvenience proves to be one hell of a ride."

American Lit’s All–Night DJ — by Malcolm Jones, Newsweek, 21. November 2006:

"Plots converge and split apart, but somehow there is the haunting feeling (and you get the idea that it’s a haunting feeling for the author as well) that everything connects, if only you had the wit to sort it all out. I’m not sure I have that kind of mind, but I’ll say this for Pynchon: the guy knows how to create a world that you don’t mind living inside for a good long time. And who knew that we’d look back over his career and see books about the 20th century, World War II, colonial America and turn–of–the–last–century America and Europe and finally realize that he’s our most ambitious historical novelist? Go figure."
Teil 2 der Buchbesprechung von Malcolm Jones.

The fall of the house of Pynchon — by Laura Miller, Salon, 21. November 2006:

"Slogging through the science and history, sex and paranoia that crowd Thomas Pynchon’s cartoonish new novel, it’s obvious his disciples now write better Big Idea novels than he does. (…) One of the seldom–mentioned dangers of having a long, storied and influential career as a novelist is the increasing likelihood that a master will live to see his pupils surpass him. Sure enough, slogging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel, "Against the Day," it’s hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better. The book is titanic, crammed with characters and events both historical and fantastic, a blend of both fuck–you braininess (yes, there are equations) and puerile humor, diverted by both exegeses on science or politics and passages of swashbuckling adventure. It’s that kind of novel; you know the type."

Gravity's author just got heavier — by John Crace, Comment is Free, 21. November 2006:

"You can read it or you can weigh it. My guess is that most people will opt for the latter. Thomas Pynchon has never been an easy read at the best of times – only the very stoned or the uber deep crunched their way through "Gravity’s Rainbow" and "The Crying of Lot 49" — and as the author himself has promised more of the same bizarre conspiracy theories, characters "singing stupid songs" and "speaking obscure languages — not always idiomatically" and "con–trary–to–the fact occurrences" in his new 1,085 page novel, "Against the Day", which is published this week, the chances of more than a handful of people completing it must be slim."

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind — by John Leonard, The Nation, 22. November 2006 (Printausgabe vom 11. Dezember 2006):

"Gravity pulls along the third dimension, up to down," says one of the many mad scientists we meet in these feverish pages; "time pulls along the fourth, birth to death." (…) Everything ends up polarized, because we are working our way through ideas of light as thickening as they are wavy; and everybody ends up paired, as if for Noah’s Ark. (…) And in our own brave new twenty–first century it’s not only hard to find a spare Wobbly, but where did all the liberals go? If the gringos in their villas dream at all, it's of sugar–plum stock options. Never mind social justice, what happened to habeas corpus? Faith–based globocops police the words in our mouths and the behaviors in our bed while sorehead cable blabbercasters rant them on. Blood lust, wet dreams, collateral damage and extraordinary rendition; Halliburton and Abu Ghraib; an erotics of property, a theology of greed and a holy war on the poor, the old, the sick, the odd and the other—when oh when will the Tatzelwurm turn? None of this, of course, is news to Pynchon, which is why we’re left with brilliant patter, fancy footwork, wishful thinking and a plaintive ukulele."

Dieser Text ist vielleicht die beste Besprechung des neuen Romans, die ich bis jetzt gelesen habe. Der Autor hat seinen Pynchon gelesen und weiß daher die nötigen Bezüge herzustellen, um einen großen Pynchon–Roman adäquat lesen und verstehen zu können.

The gathering storm: Pynchon cuts a wide swath in masterful WWI–era epic — by Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journey Sentinel, 24. November 2006:

"In "Against the Day," the glue is the story of light and electricity. On the one hand, the ability to split a light ray in two when passed through certain types of material holds forth the possibility of simultaneously being in different places. And because Pynchon and his characters can therefore see the world from multiple perspectives and points in time, they can conjure up lateral worlds, "set only infinitesimally to the side of the one we think we know." Imagining themselves moving at the speed of light, characters in "Against the Day" repeatedly embark on journeys through time, revisiting younger and occasionally better selves or catapulting forward into futures that run the gamut from nuclear winter to heavenly utopia. Conversely, light can be harnessed for weapons of mass destruction, and electric light can extend the working day with what "Against the Day" refers to as an "unmerciful whiteness," which, by imposing a single way of seeing, reduces shadow and colonizes night, eliminating its magic and power. Pynchon draws the battle lines early and never lets up. The untapped potential he always sees in "unshaped freedom" and the "irregular seethe of history" squares off against "a hundred forms of bourgeois literalism" and their "progressive reduction of choices, until the final turn through the final gate that led to the killing–floor." More than in any prior Pynchon novel, the characters in "Against the Day" rebel against their would–be jailers and choose instead to believe, as one character puts it, "that History could be helped to keep its promises" to all those it has forgotten."

Pynchon’s flying circus — by Tom Adair, The Scotsman, 25. November 2006:

"The dream of Venice, Pynchon suggests, is possibly greater than its fulfilment. As is the American dream, and the striving towards the great American novel, which this is not. But it is a serious book, and the finest thing Pynchon has done since "Gravity’s Rainbow." It should be acknowledged, nonetheless, that "Against the Day" is immensely, if intermittently, funny, an intricate, wheezing shaggy dog joke which characteristically lacks a punchline, yet plays along with our expectation of a punchline — in a sense, it’s the perfect postmodernist, mocking jest. Yes, Pynchon’s comedy stares straight back at you, demanding that you recognise your complicity in the joke. It’s a stare not unlike the challenging gaze he brought to the photograph of his youth. An interesting face — a gaze that holds you in its grip for a thousand pages. Quite a feat."

And all that jass — by Sam Leith, The Spectator, 25. November 2006:

"It is brilliant, but it is exhaustingly brilliant ... It drags, it forces you to struggle, but it does so for its cumulative effect. There’s a wonderful, gathering tenderness — and Pynchon writes some of the most beautiful sentences you are ever likely to come across. (…) About a third of the way through "Against the Day," we find ourselves in a bar on the bad side of town, thick with dope smoke and anarchists, jiving to the syncopated rhythms of one ‘Dope’ Breedlove. Talk turns to anarchist theory, and a young Irish insurrectionary volunteers that the Land League was ‘the closest the world has ever come to a perfect Anarchist organization’. ‘Were the phrase not self–contradictory,’ commented ‘Dope’ Breedlove. ‘Yet I’ve noticed the same thing when your band plays — the most amazing social coherence, as if you all shared the same brain.’ ‘Sure,’ agreed ‘Dope’, ‘but you can’t call that organization.’ ‘What do you call it?’ ‘Jass.’"

Dream Maps — by Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times, 26. November 2006:

"In "Against the Day," Pynchon’s voice seems uncharacteristically earnest. He interrupts his narrative from time to time to lay down pronouncements that, taken together, probably constitute the fullest elaboration of his philosophy yet seen in print. (…) And so, in "Against the Day," Pynchon takes to the sky, as if to gain a better vantage on what lies beneath. However, setting his narrative (notionally) around the turn of the last century, he soon decides he would rather not look down after all. Far better to ponder alternative realities: "a giant railway–depot, with thousands of gates disposed radially in all dimensions, leading to tracks of departure to all manner of alternate Histories." Beating a retreat from the injustices of capitalism and the looming atrocity of World War I, he builds himself the refuge of a dream–draped world by overlaying bloody late–19th–century labor disputes and 20th–century catastrophes with the raiment of escapist popular literature."

There’s no doubting Thomas — by David Gale, The Guardian, 26. November 2006:

"Over at the Pynchon–L internet mailing list, the lid comes off. The subscribers, hardcore textual stalkers to a man (there seems to be only one female subscriber), some of whom have been discussing the finer points of the oeuvre for years, go into overdrive. One of the topics discussed was the significance of the cover design. On the bottom left–hand corner of an otherwise rather plain dustjacket is the image of what appears to be a seal or official stamp, depicting what might be mountains, encircled at the seal’s circumference by lettering in an unfamiliar script. The subscribers get to work: there’s a snow lion in front of the mountains; the mountains resemble giant adenoids; it’s not a seal, it’s a coin; the coin is a forgery; the script is Tibetan; it’s a Tibetan wireless telegraph stamp; the dustjacket is referencing either reincarnation, time travel or tripolar disorder. Remarkably, a subscriber unearths a photo of a 19th–century Tibetan coin that closely resembles the enigmatic original."

Mystery man’s last hurrah — by Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman, 26. November 2006:

"The American writer Thomas Pynchon is a figure shrouded in mystery. Not only is he pathologically private — the only corroborated photographs are 40 years old, he gives no interviews, never appears at book festivals and his only 'media' appearance has been two cameos on The Simpsons, where he was depicted with a bag over his head — his work is notoriously 'difficult'. (…) In contrast to his previous novels, the sentences here are less dense, the syntax less tortuous. As for plot — well, it has at least one. With such a broad canvas, and with so many characters, the reader is caught up in countless different stories: nonetheless, these individual lives and interlocking narratives add up to something more than a kaleidoscope of incidents. "Against The Day" is a fantastic chronicle about how the modern world came into being. (…) When "Mason & Dixon" came out in 1997, it felt like Pynchon’s farewell novel. How wonderful, then, to have "Against The Day" as well; an exuberant, imaginative and ultimately life–affirming coda to an illustrious career. Pynchon is the only living American author who unreservedly deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature — although, of course, he would never appear in public to accept it."

Thomas Pynchon unpacks a big–bang story — by Richard Melo, Oregon Online, 26. November 2006:

Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, "Against the Day," is not a new "Star Wars" movie. Nor is it the next installment in the "Harry Potter" series. It’s not even the release of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s "Smile" after nearly 40 years in mothballs. Instead, it’s a densely written, 1,085–page novel by a writer as notorious for his complex style as for his reputation as the most publicity–shy writer this side of J.D. Salinger. (…) For the uninitiated who are simply curious about the hubbub, the novel reads more easily than previous Pynchon tomes, encompasses many of the author’s signature themes, and serves as an appropriate introduction to complex works such as "Gravity’s Rainbow," which earned Pynchon the National Book Award in 1974. Although, at more than 3 pounds, it’s heavy. (…) "Against the Day’"s themes relate more closely to "Gravity’s Rainbow" than any of the author’s other works, and as the earlier book spoke to its times, the Cold War/Vietnam era, "Against the Day" provides Pynchon’s perspective on the post–9/11 present day. It shows Pynchon at his angriest, placing capitalism at the root not only of war and human misery but in the sullying of scientific and inventive thought. The narrative also posits theories that merge the scientific and the spiritual, while leaving organized religion out of it. In terms of historical background, the time frame covered in "Against the Day" ends not long before the action of "Gravity’s Rainbow" begins. Place "Gravity’s" famous first line, "A screaming comes across the sky," at the tail end of the new novel and it fits quite naturally. (…) Whether or not Pynchon writes future novels, "Against the Day" can be seen as his "Brothers Karamazov." It ties up the loose ends of his career and shows that his past successes were not a fluke. It stands on its own and will enhance the reputation of his previous books. With a writer as publicity–shy as Pynchon, there is no way if with this novel he is calling it a day. If he is, then he’s going out with a bang louder than an obliterating asteroid screaming across the Siberian sky."

Gweetings, gentlemen — by Tim Martin, The Independent, 26. November 2006:

"Against the Day is a startlingly discontinuous novel, a work of full–spectrum intelligence and erudition that is at times bafflingly tiresome and ungenerous to the reader. Reading it is not unlike that of swivelling the dial on a radio, or dropping a bundle of snapsnots, or watching light split through a prism. Something in it will mean something important to almost anybody. But the parts make a chaotic whole."

Aubade, Poor Dad — by John Clute, Sci Fi Weekly, 27. November 2006:

"Due to Pynchon’s fully earned iconic status as great American writer and Zeitgeist voice, Against the Day has already been widely reviewed in the general press, and various versions of the list of popular genres given above have appeared in some of these notices. There’s a problem, though. Nongenre critics seem generally to presume that Pynchon accessed this material more or less raw, that Against the Day represents a direct and unfiltered mining of prelapsarian ore, and that therefore the tonality of the book—its doom–haunted desiderium—is in itself uniquely or even particularly Pynchonesque. Given the depth and range of his conversation with a vast range of previous writers and genres, however, as well as the fact that over the past 45 years his own works have become an integral part of that conversation, I suspect Pynchon himself would disavow any sense that his grasp of previous genres was anything like that simpleminded. The intervening filter is, of course, the literatures of the fantastic as they actually exist. We needn’t rehearse the obvious at length here—that for the last 50 years or so, SF and fantasy has increasingly focused on our pre–World War I past; witness steampunk and the gaslight romance, witness the huge proliferation of pastiches of earlier genres, witness the alternate history inhabited by escapees, witness the boom in time–travel tales back to a past that needs preserving and witness Michael Moorcock’s creation of the literary device of the multiverse in order to give lebensraum to various otherwise incompatible genres and tales within the pages of one book—but we should say that Against the Day honourably adds to that conversation. It is a pure science fiction novel of these latter days of sorting."

Thomas Pynchon and the myth of invisibility — by Sophie Ratcliffe, The Times Literary Supplement, 29. November 2006:

"Pynchon is playing out, on a textual level, the very experience of being obliterated that he is writing about. For this loss is representative of what the novel protests against — loss of life, loss of plot, but, in particular, the loss of the individual in a mass of capitalist greed."

A Gas–Guzzling, Tailfin–Sporting Masterpiece — Teil 3 der Buchbesprechung von Malcolm Jones.

Pynchon’s characters chat their way through his novel’s tedious, jerky plot — by Terrence Doody, Houston Chronicle, 01. Dezember 2006:

"There is a lot of talk in Thomas Pynchon’s new novel Against the Day. It is 1,085 pages long, so there is a lot of everything else, too. But it is the talk that indicates what is wrong with the book and why it is so disappointing. (…) Since I have always thought, from the first moments into it, that Gravity’s Rainbow is one of the 20th century's masterpieces (and that Mason & Dixon is very very good itself), I am sad that Against the Day isn’t one of the 21st century’s early benchmarks. And, of course, I am fearful I’ve been stupid about it and missed the boat. But now, in retrospect, his first novel, V., seems less than some of its parts, and Vineland, which has a lot of things in common with Against the Day, has always been a real stinker. Even Homer nods, they say, and Pynchon’s gotten slack and sleepy here. There may be some thrilling speculation in the math I do not understand, but there’s no terrible beauty, no fearful Rilkean awe, not much that is really horrifying, no dread. Not much fun, either."

Invisible man — by Ludovic Hunter–Tilney, The Financial Times, 02. Dezember 2006:

"If there’s such a thing as a Luddite novel, then "Against the Day" is it. Even in an age of 900–page Harry Potter tomes, its gargantuan size and complexity are fabulously impractical. You’ll need to go on holiday to read it, and then take another to recover. I reckon it’s almost 500,000 words long; not a patch admittedly on the million–plus words of "Clarissa" but close enough behind "War and Peace" for Tolstoy to feel Pynchon’s breath on his neck."

Required reading: Take with a big Pynchon salt — by Douglas Kennedy, The Times, 02. Dezember 2006:

"(…) Against the Day eventually settles down into weirdly compelling reading — that does not require the reader to assume higher cognitive powers or a love of all things recondite. Enter the book thinking of Pynchon as P. T. Barnum — a great ringmaster, about to take you on a guided tour of the material, technological, geopolitical and philosophical forces that shaped the early years of the previous century — and you might just find yourself (as I did) caught up in its circus–like reveries. Pynchon can be totally maddening, but he has a great sense of mischief."

Let Pynchon be Pynchon — by Greg Hollingshead, The Globe and Mail, 02.Dezember 2006:

"Does it work? Well, first remember that nobody nowadays, not even Don DeLillo, can do what Pynchon is doing here at this level of craft, intelligence and sheer range of knowledge. There are many wonders."

Critical Eye: Pinning down PynchonThe Guardian, 02. Dezember 2006.

Heapin’ helpin’: Thomas Pynchon’s 1,000–page novel serves up multiple narratives, wacky humor and highbrow ideas — by Ariel Gonzalez, The Miami Herald, 03. Dezember 2006:

"In Monty Python’s ''Summarize Proust'' competition, contestants were given a laughable 15 seconds to recite the plot of In Search of Lost Time. At 1,085 pages, Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is roughly oney–quarter the length of Proust’s seven–volume masterpiece, and yet word–limited critics will also find themselves hopelessly struggling to summarize its multiple narratives. The attempt is worthwhile, however, for Against the Day, as insufferable as it can be, vibrates with the wacky humor, highbrow ideas and imaginative aliveness we have come to expect from an encyclopedically minded author whose maintenance of personal anonymity has not tempered his desire to engage with a fallen world."

Pynchon himself — by Chris Packham, Kansas City Star, 03. Dezember 2006:

"Book critics have an unfortunate tendency to approach sprawling novels by compiling lists of narrative elements without context. A reviewer of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, for example, might produce this one: mathematicians, anarchist bombers, literate dogs, teen adventurers, Nikola Tesla, motorcycle gangs, evil plutocrats, assassins, magicians, spies. The book is more than the sum of these parts. Pynchon’s preoccupations move from any documentation of history to contemplations of what history might mean if time is illusory, imaginary or irrelevant. The result is a more fantastic place, in which characters not only speculate about time travel or parallel worlds but also find themselves transported to impossible places."

Thomas Pynchon vs. the World — by Keith Gessen, New York Magazine, 4. Dezember 2006:

"The fun of Pynchon’s books—and they are in fact more fun than not, and this is for better and worse one of the key differences between Pynchon and the major novelists who preceded him—has always been to read them into the present. Gravity’s Rainbow, while ostensibly about World War II, was actually about American Cold War hegemony and Vietnam; Against the Day likewise works with what feels like contemporary material, though its subject is ostensibly the turn of the twentieth century. The route of railroad tracks determined political arrangements then, just as oil pipelines do now; anarchists (or terrorists) blew them up; and all of this was watched from above by capitalists and air–balloon enthusiasts. The great invention of the mid–nineteenth century was dynamite, used by miners to blow railroad tunnels through mountains, then by anarchists to blow the railroad tracks into the sky. By the end of the century, the latest invention was wireless, and everyone was in a race to use it, for profit and for glory. Part of the reason Pynchon is a more important writer than his successors William Vollmann and Richard Powers is that he’s politically more radical and more committed (he can also construct sentences, and sometimes even edit them)—and his view of power is tirelessly grim, if also cartoonish. Against the Day is very much against the present day. At the same time, it holds out a kind of hope, in the very technologies it knows are being used to destroy human freedom."

Beauty durch technik — by Rachel Aspden, The New Statesman, 04. Dezember 2006:

"Against the Day is not only the longest of Pynchon’s works, it’s the largest of the super–sized books written over the past half–century by a loose cluster of American novelists — Pynchon, William Gaddis, John Barth, Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace. These are the Great Big American Novels — sprawling postmodern epics apparently limitless in their political, technical, formal and comic aspirations. Their greatest ambition, however, is to talk to America about itself. "Every American writer of ambition," Martin Amis once suggested, "is trying to write a novel called USA." Their tool of choice is metaphor — even, sometimes, allegory — though the way in which they map reality is usually less than clear. In Gaddis’s The Recognitions (1955), a tormented painter forges Old Masters; in Barth’s Giles Goat–Boy (1966), a goat becomes Grand Tutor of the New Tammany College; in DeLillo’s Underworld (1997), a single baseball is sold, stolen and pursued over 50 years; and in Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996) a fatally addictive video does the rounds among tennis prodigies and substance abusers — narratives that suggest all sorts of (largely unflattering) things about 20th– century America."

Read the Novel, Then Update the Wiki — by Chris Thompson, East Bay Express, 06. Dezember 2006:

"(Tim) Ware sits in the Jack London Square loft offices of his company HyperArts, where a poster of the Monterey Pop Festival hangs near an oversize flat–screen monitor. At age 58, with sandy hair thinning above reedy spectacles, he’s a cheery, unassuming musician and Web professional. He’s also perhaps the world’s foremost authority on Pynchonalia, having created an exhaustive index of every character and historic event in Pynchon’s 1973 classic Gravity’s Rainbow. Professors around the world advise their students to consult Ware’s Web site,, and he’s been invited to academic conferences in Great Britain and Belgium. Now that Pynchon’s latest novel, Against the Day, has arrived to the delight of fans everywhere — fifty people packed Moe’s Books in Berkeley on November 20, waiting for the stroke of midnight to buy copies — Ware has taken on an even more ambitious task. He is coordinating the global Wikipedia project to annotate, categorize, and investigate every single detail in the novel."

Na, da kriegt der gute Tim ja eine gute Presse!

Pynchon Me, I’m Dreaming: A sprawling, overstuffed new novel brings us anarchy in the U.S.A. — by John Haskell, The Village Voice, 07. December 2006:

"The cloud of foreboding that hangs over this book is a fear, a Pynchonian paranoia, that the martial instincts of capitalism, having already corrupted Tesla’s idea of free electricity, will come to control and limit the very act of thinking. Who, living in the world now, with wars erupting (or about to erupt) and plagues spreading (or about to spread) can’t feel the sense of impending catastrophe? We’ve all heard (from parents or grandparents or the cultural ether we live in) about the Great War and the Great Depression, and wasn’t the event of the twin towers a kind of catastrophe we were waiting for? Against the Day reminds us that the world is out of balance, that the famous center isn’t holding, and aren’t we all waiting for something big that "will change us forever?" And of course we don’t want that thing to happen, but we act as if to encourage it. So maybe we do want it. Maybe we want something big, because that something big might give us meaning. (…) It’s no accident that Pynchon has set Against the Day about a hundred years ago. It’s instructive to look back on that time and witness what has happened since that time, to see what we were and see (in what we were) what we are. And yes, what we are is basically the same, but our understanding of the world, whether we knew it or not, has been in constant flux. Pynchon’s novel is trying to respond to that flux, and the difficulty, if there is one, is describing the world with a template that was established so long ago. The great sprawling novels of the past are great and sprawling and wonderful because that's what we know. We’ve been taught to love them and validate them and hold them up for emulation. But I’m wondering if Milan Kundera is right. He has said that the novel has an elastic structure, that its possibilities are infinite. But I’m wondering if our new century might need a new kind of book, not to replace the novel, but to augment the arsenal of what is possible to say with words. I’m a slow reader, who likes to savor words. I don’t want to speed–read something that’s supposed to be… well, that’s just it, what is a book supposed to be, now, in our, perhaps, utopian age of the world wide web and all that goes with it? I’m not sure, but as I was reading this book I was, first of all wishing it would have been smaller, and secondly, thinking about what a new kind of book might be."

Enigmatic novelist delivers another dense, majestic plot — by Bruce Allen, The Washington Times, 10. Dezember 2006:

"Thus far, both the Library of America and the Nobel prize givers have declined to honor him, despite impressive (if not oppressive) evidence that Thomas Pynchon is an American writer like none other before him. Behind the cloak of reclusiveness he has worn for more than 40 years lurks the possessor of a versatile intelligence that straddles almost casually what C.P. Snow called the two cultures of science and literature, and an analyst of historical, contemporary and future shock who observes the likely consequences of our global endgames with a grief–stricken stand–up comedian’s cadaverous grin."

Pynchon throws down the gauntlet: Peripatetic text won’t be for everyone, but has rewards for those who brave its wildernesses — by David Hellman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10. Dezember 2006:

"Against the Day" is probably the most brilliant book most people will never read. The reason it will probably fail to garner much of an audience is that at almost 1,100 pages it is, to put it bluntly, the novel as literary whirlwind, cryptically dense and unrelenting in its demands on the reader. Depending on what kind of reader you are, that could be either a good or a bad thing."

Und was ist mit "Finnegan’s Wake" und "Tristram Shandy"?

It’s all about bigging it up — by John Dugdale, The Sunday Times, 10. Dezember 2006:

"Three of Thomas Pynchon’s five previous novels are lengthy, historical and set in worlds about to explode. His 1963 debut, V. (full of panicky, paranoid types yelping "the balloon is going up!"), depicts a series of crises between 1898 and 1956 for the dying British empire; Gravity’s Rainbow takes place in England and Germany in the final phase of the second world war, just before Hiroshima; and Mason & Dixon in the 1760s in a colonial America soon to fight a war of liberation. His sixth, the gigantic Against the Day, continues the pre– apocalyptic pattern. Revisiting an era that fascinated the author in V., it largely unfolds in the years leading up to the first world war, opening with the Chicago World Fair of 1893. The multistranded plot involves a typically motley cast of travellers, spies, mathematicians, revolutionaries, mystics, engineers, femmes fatales, entrepreneurs, sleuths, actors, saboteurs, entertainers and sexual avant–gardists; and the novel teems with countries as well as characters, in addition to taking in half the nations of pre–1919 Europe."

Inside the List — by Dwight Garner, The New York Times, 10. Dezember 2006:

"Thomas Pynchon’s "Against the Day" steps onto the fiction list at No. 13. It may stay awhile — his last novel, "Mason & Dixon," spent eight weeks here in 1997."

Flight of fancy: Pynchon’s in top form with airborne satire — by Dorman T. Shindler, The Denver Post, 12. Dezember 2006:

"As a nation that prides itself on being a successful democratic society, America has been asleep at the wheel for more than a century. It’s a point Gore Vidal made lucidly in "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace." In that short, sharp, shock of a book, Vidal says that ever since the war against Mexico in the mid–1800s, America has been a nation run by the imperialist desires of the upper–class and power hungry, a point that is driven home in a more round–about, and rambling fashion in Pynchon’s 1,000–plus page new opus. (…) Although the author has claimed otherwise in pre–publicity material, "Against the Day" is a winsome satire of both America and much of the world today. It’s a backhand against over–reaching corporate greed and capitalism, government chicanery and malfeasance and religious groups both false and ignorant. Coming straight to the point, late in the novel, one character says, "I like to lose myself in reveries of when the land was free, before it got hijacked by capitalist Christer Republicans for their long–term evil purposes." "Against the Day" – funny, wise, poetic and always over–the–top – offers the reader both a way to lose him or herself in a tale of escape and a way to take a hard look anew at the world around us. A satisfying result to what is arguably Pynchon’s most complicated, mind–bending and frustrating–yet–satisfying novel since "Gravity’s Rainbow."

Into the Light of Day — by Anthony Miller, LA City Beat, 14. Dezember 2006:

"With his mesmerizing intelligence, unrepentant shtick, and polymathic and panoramic synthesis of the historical, technological, and metaphysical, Thomas Pynchon resembles no other author. (…) Against the Day reflects on the start of the previous century, an era of rapacious capitalists, seditious anarchists, and ingenious mathematicians, scientists, and inventors. Summarizing a Pynchon novel is a fool’s errand, not only well nigh impossible, but also beside the point. (…) Against the Day is among the most all–encompassing but also the most accessible of Pynchon’s novels. As characters crisscross the pages, not all the story arcs are equally engrossing, and the sense of grand design can be difficult to discern within the exuberant storytelling. Readers frustrated or even outraged by the lack of a central character should recall the multifarious narratives of such previous works as Gravity’s Rainbow, in which Slothrop, the ostensible hero, vanishes well before its final page."

Against the Day — Reading Thomas Pynchon’s latest, gigantic novel is exhausting, but worth the effort. — by John Bailey, Fairfax Digital, 22. Dezember 2006:

"Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel is a bloated, obscene and unwieldy cacophony of uncertain registers, mixed meanings and bad gags, at times tedious, often mysterious, never simple. For those who’ve encountered the American literary giant’s previous gargantuan novels, this will come as no surprise. For those who are fans: oh boy."

Against the Day: Thomas Pynchon’s sixth novel is exhaustively and exhaustingly rich; just don’t expect any answers — by Don Anderson, The Australian, 23. Dezember 2006:

"It is surely impossible not to like a novel that, on the third of its almost 1100 pages, features in the year of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 a dog named Pugnax which is "reading", or at least curled up with, Henry James’s 1886 novel The Princess Casamassima, as fine an aestheticising account of anarchist outrages in late 19th–century London as you might encounter. Not only is this moment cute, it is also thematically germane, for Thomas Pynchon’s long–awaited sixth novel is concerned with, among many and various topics, the combat between anarchy and capital in the US. (…) Pynchon may be America’s Last Old Hippie. He is certainly strongly opposed to "Republican Christers", to plutocrats, to capital, possibly to the Capitol. Late in the novel, a child, grandson of a union man and anarchist dynamiter, brings home from school the assignment "Write an essay on What It Means To Be An American". He writes: " It means do what they tell you and take what they give you and don’t go on strike or their soldiers will shoot you down. " (Pynchon’s italics.) It comes back with a big A+ on it."

Nett ist auch die Fussnote zu dem Artikel: "Don Anderson once foolishly presumed to "teach" Gravity’s Rainbow at the University of Sydney."

New Pynchon lacks fire — by Craig Seligman, Detroit Free Press, 24. Dezember 2006:

Thomas Pynchon’s sixth novel, "Against the Day," is more than 1,000 pages of extravagant images that lack the intensity of his early work.

"Against the Day" by Thomas Pynchon: Pynchon’s past strengths decline into overkill — by Kristofer Collins, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 31. Dezember 2006:

"It’s a very bad sign that, when no more than 50 pages into a book, you not only begin to question why you are bothering to read the thing, but are wondering aloud why the book even exists. (…) All in all "Against the Day" is the most disappointing book I’ve read in a very long time."

The worlds around us — by Matt Zalaznick, Vail Daily News, Vail, CO Colorado, 01. Januar 2007:

"Perhaps Pynchon thinks all readers should read all literature through a piece of spar. More importantly, Pynchon is telling us human beings should "read" the world through a piece of double refracting crystal — humans, in other words, should look for the worlds that exist "against the day." There are two rays of light shining through the spar, we are told, one "ordinary" and the other "extraordinary."

Against the Day — Critic finally finishes Pynchon’s latest doorstop — by Luke O’Neil, Dig–Boston’s Weekly, 03. Januar 2007:

"There’s nothing particularly great about this would–be Great American Novel, save perhaps its size (1,085 pages). In fact, Against the Day barely even qualifies as a novel. (…) To call reading this book a waste of time is almost an insult to activities like picking your toes and staring at the wall. (…) That said, there are still moments of sheer genius at work here. This is Pynchon, after all."

Against the Day — by Drew Toal, The New York Press, 03. Januar 2007:

"Thomas Pynchon’s new offering might best be described as unrestrained proto–modern magical realism with a Western lilt. His verbal spewage results in a nearly 1,100 page novel, of biblically density, that will leave even the most serious of readers daunted. That being said, Against the Day is decidedly easier to wrap your head around than the trenchant genius and near–incomprehensibility that characterizes his earlier works. (…) All told, Against the Day is both rewarding and ostentatious enough to justify the substantial investment of time, optical fortitude and upper-arm strength required to see it through. Indeed, merely lugging this book around is enough to satisfy any casual glances from the NYC subway literati set."

Humming along — by Michael Wood, London Review of Books, 04. Januar 2007:

"Pynchon has an extraordinary, open–ended affection for whoever and whatever is not serious — that is, not wholeheartedly committed to rationality, purpose and greed. Most of his stories — and his novels are crowded with not always connected stories — are about drop–outs of some kind, or people who would drop out if they could, characters who are trying to focus their disagreements with what he calls, in his new title and throughout the text, ‘the day’. ‘He had learned,’ we are told of one character, ‘to step to the side of the day.‘ Resistance to exploitation ‘must be negotiated with the day’; people who don’t know what’s about to hit them are said to be ‘pretending to carry on with the day’. Of course, ‘against the day’ also, or even chiefly, means ‘till the day comes’, and that is part of Pynchon’s point. Beyond or outside the current day is our image of its counterpart, a lure or a threat, a world far worse or far better, doomsday or deliverance or even both."

Books that worked magic — by Jeet Thayil, The Hindu, 07. Januar 2007:

"A new Thomas Pynchon book is an extra–literary publishing event, and Against the Day is no exception. At 1085 pages, this one is also a master class in fiction, especially boy’s adventure and spy novels, and dime–store westerns and pulp. Somewhere in there you will also find an epic family feud probably borrowed from the Mahabharata. Also (since you can’t write about a Pynchon novel without resorting to a list at some point, here it is): references to high and low art, sometimes in the same paragraph, the history of anarchism and travel in air balloons, the inner workings of modern mathematics and science, shamanism and drug–taking, and characters who "stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs". This is a big, important book and I don’t want to finish reading it."

Two Encyclopedias, Fat and Thin: Ditching Pynchon for James Brown — by Tom Nissley, The Stranger, Seattle, 09. Januar 2007:

"It is stupid to be constantly talking about the size of Against the Day. It’s a way of avoiding the book itself and its vast, intricate, and rare knowledge, and I’m a little ashamed to be doing it. But it’s also stupid to ignore what it’s like to read a book of that scale, especially one that doesn’t draw you heedlessly in but rather fends you off at every turn with new characters, unexplained situations, and veiled references. Its vastness and your stamina become part of the story. But its encyclopedic size is part of the appeal: It carries the promise of complete knowledge, of a system solved and fully explained (although every Pynchon fan knows that promise will be frustrated and even mocked)."

Inside the Time Machine — by Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books, 11. Januar 2007:

"Pynchon’s novels always have their own peculiar rhythm and logic, setting the reader in terrain that is continually shifting and thus requires an athletic suppleness of attention and mood. Digression is the constant, not the exception. (…) The overall impression is of a vast piece of architecture, something with wings and turrets and redoubts and flying buttresses, that has been entirely constructed by hand and without blueprints. It may appear titanic and overwhelming from a distance, but close up it is oddly homespun, friendly, accommodating, and free of such oppressions as symmetry and hierarchy. (…) Here as in his other books, Pynchon is writing a sort of parahistorical fiction, extrapolating from the known the way science fiction writers do with science. He can evoke the texture of the past as vividly as anyone (…) Pynchon thinks on a different scale from most novelists, to the point where you’d almost want to find another word for the sort of thing he does, since his books differ from most other novels the way a novel differs from a short story, in exponential rather than simply linear fashion. Pynchon’s work has absorbed modernism and what has come after, but in its alternating cycles of jokes and doom, learning and carnality, slapstick and arcana, direct speech and poetic allusiveness, high language and low, it taps into something that goes back to the Elizabethans, who potentially addressed the entire world, made up of individuals with differing interests and capacities."

Less than epic — by Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times, 13. Januar 2007:

"History and geography have provided what passes for structure in a zany picaresque that may well be a metaphor for the sick and deadly times in which we live. Not that this is all that new a theme for the famously elusive Pynchon, whose preoccupation has tended to be the sick and deadly times in which we live."

The Science of Light, Space–Time, and Vectors in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day — by Michael White, Adaptive Complexity, 15. Januar 2007:

"Thomas Pynchon is well known for the dense and obscure references to history, pop–culture, and especially science in his novels. His recent novel Against the Day is set during the turn of the 19th Century, a time when our understanding of space, time, and light, rooted in classical physics, was completely overturned and replaced by a revolutionary new perspective based on the theories of special and general relativity. Pynchon takes the science of this period and incorporates it deeply into the language and structure of Against the Day, more so perhaps than in any of his other novels. Against the Day is suffused with meditations on light, space, and time, and often plays with the tension between different perspectives in math and physics — classical physics versus relativity, or Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism described with the imaginary numbers of quaternions versus the real numbers of vector analysis. This material is not just filler — it’s critical to the core of Against the Day, a fact which has been underappreciated in early reviews of the novel. (…) Pynchon’s achievement in Against the Day proves that he is peerless as a poet who can mine the most abstract realms of very real science for gems of insight, and set them beautifully into the context of the humanity that is the ultimate concern of his novels."

Against the Day: Pynchon’s latest book falls short of expectations — by Ben Clarke, The Utah Statesman, 19. Januar 2007:

"While monumental and expansive in its own right, "Against the Day" doesn’t meet the expectations of its own rhetoric and expansive plot, not to mention the expectations of a student book reviewer who will have to wait a few more Christmases for Pynchon’s next masterpiece."

Against the Day — by Steven Shaviro, The Pinocchio Theory, 20. Januar 2007:

"The way that Pynchon so casually passes over, or through, World War I in a few distant and allusive pages is itself expressive and meaningful: the war’s horrors simply defy representation, cannot be narrated in this otherwise amazingly capacious volume. Almost at the end of the novel, in Paris in 1920 or so, one of the characters remarks that "We’re in Hell, you know… The world came to an end in 1914. Like the mindless dead, who don’t know they’re dead, we are as little aware as they of having been in Hell ever since that terrible August" (page 1077). And arguably, we still are, to this day."

The World is All That is the Case: Against the Day — Patrick Quinn, blogs, Monday, January 22, 2007:

"I finished Against the Day. Head spinning like a surrealist’s kaleidoscope, I wandered into the Pig and sat on the deck, smoking furiously, mostly silent, thinking about grace, the electromagnetic spectrum, defenseless families consigned to misery by wicked wealthy men, silver–nitrate photography, quaternions and the mathematics of four dimensions, dirigibles, the Ludlow Massacre, star–crossed lovers, Bosnian ghosts, death rays, the White City, Minkowskian space–time, Nagant 8mm revolvers, bilocation, the Great Game, the set of all sets that are not members of themselves, grim long–riders crossing death–haunted mountains in winter, Nikola Tesla, dynamite and its many practical uses, the Hallucinati, non–Euclidian geometries, passion and its inevitable cessation, the Golden City Lost To History And Time, transnational blood vendettas, Mysterious Bob Meldrum, the E region, Bela Lugosi, tunnel rats, the Ace of Spies, mayonnaise, vector space, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his regrettable self–insertions into European history, calcite, simultaneity, the Tunguska Event, tesseracts, the Mexican Revolution, the direction of "remembering," penance and redemption, colliding parallel universes, multiple copulatory combinations I am unlikely to experience first–hand, infernal machines, Philip Marlowe’s mean streets, Third Ypres, an elegaic Chopin nocturne plinked upon a ukulele, the aether, girls with wings, serial killers, the birth of the movies, a dog reading The Princess Casamassima and much more zooming through."

Book Review: Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon — by Richard Marcus, Blogcritics.Org, 06. Februar 2007:

"Inasmuch as you can ever say what a Thomas Pynchon novel is about or where it is set in time and place, regarding characters, locations, and other extraneous story line details, Against The Day is set in the years just preceding World War One and some of the years following. As the world we live in now is dealing with the wonders of digitalization, and the realisation that we’ve only scratched the surface of its potential, so were the learned folk of science grappling with electricity, combustion engines, and the power and energy of light in that time. (…) But where somebody is reaping profits, many bodies are being broken to make that money. Out in the coal, gold, and silver mines of the west, men, women and children are worked six days a week and up to fourteen hours a day, and when the unions start to form, war is declared in the office towers of the east. Anarchism is afoot in the wilds and in the streets of America in the form of the "eight hour day" and the "five day week". How can a man grow sinfully rich under those conditions? But not to worry there are plenty of men who will gladly split open the heads of their fellows like melons for a quarter and a badge giving them the legal right to do it. Hell, they even get to be patriots and heroes of the nation for conducting lynch mobs and burning women and children in their miserable shacks by the mines. But the mine bosses have made a bad mistake in teaching their minions the means to fight back. Dynamite is a great tool for democracy in the right hands. It speaks louder than any speech and causes more disruption than a strike. In the right hands, or two pair of hands, because it takes less time to lay the charges and string the wire with two people, a trestle bridge can disappear during the Sunday morning church service when the miners gather to pray for the souls of their bosses in the far off eastern towns."

Die gleiche Buchbesprechung bei Desicritics und Leap In The Dark : "Richard Marcus is a long–haired Canadian iconoclast who writes reviews and opines on the world as he sees it."

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon — by Adam Roberts, Infinity Plus, 18. Februar 2007:

"Pynchon’s latest supersize masterpiece: a steampunk airship crew, a Deadwood–style Western revenge plot, spies, Shambala and a beautifully complex take on alternate–realities, 1893–1920. Extraordinarily extraordinary."

Michael Silverblatt on Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day — by Michael Silverblatt, Good Magazine, März 2007:

"In Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, convergences, refractions, and congruencies of every sort open a metaphysical door to allow travel through time and space. (…) For all of the extraordinary research he has done, the geopolitics, the maths and sciences, the languages, Pynchon seems to be traveling back in time to look for an escape route. He wants to find the turning point on time’s axis that will prevent the world from turning into the materialistic and ignorant Hell it is today. He is exploring the past to take refuge in the memory of what could have been. Reader, beware! (…) Though these dreams of another world—a second world, a double world—are tempting, yesterday’s faulty science is today’s pseudo–science, and Pynchon is looking at the world through eyes that have seen the reawakening of creationism and the threatening concoction of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Pynchon, ever the dualist, knows that fantasy can mask deception, fantasy camouflages the real. In Against the Day, every time a scientist has a hypothesis, a capitalist smells the possibility of a merchandisable weapon and potential ownership of the world’s future. (…) Pynchon’s original title for his earlier work Gravity’s Rainbow was "Mindless Pleasures." It could stand as an alternate title for any of his books. Here in Against the Day the author explores the temptation to escape into the extravaganzas of mindless pleasure, but he gets to the heart of the matter. His fiction invites you to suspend disbelief in order to return you to reality as a disbeliever, a mindful visionary with clearer eyes."

Against the Day, re–examined — by Dan Conley, Pynchon Blog, 01. Mai 2007:

"First, let me propose a theory. It’s an accepted view of Pynchon’s fiction that he has a discernible method to his work he picks a point in time, mines the scientific knowledge, cultural artifacts and paranoid fantasies of the era, then spins a work of science fiction as it might have been written in that age. The theory pretty much holds up for all six Pynchon works and never more so than in "Against The Day." I would like to extend this theory beyond subject matter to embrace style. I believe that Pynchon is a stylistic chameleon who alters his prose style and literary construction techniques based on the popular literary styles of the times he writes about, so that any reader could pick up the most acclaimed and popular books of these eras and slip easily into a Pynchon novel … perhaps someday in the deep future blissfully unaware that his universe is radically skewed from those of the contemporaneous authors."

Back to the Future: On Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day — by William Logan, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2007:

"In his almost seamless integration of history into the fictional world (which, to the reader, gives the illusion of the reverse), the story gets pried this way and that to accommodate whatever lumps of fact the past requires; but the leverage is so obvious it contributes to the maniac comedy. The verisimilitude that licenses Pynchon’s flights of fancy may corrupt (may even intend to corrupt) a reader’s faith in any chronicle, whether of antiquity or the day before yesterday."

Against the Day: une alchimie de la lumière — par Julien Schuh, La Revue des Ressources, lundi 18 juin 2007. Auch als PDF erhältlich.

"The Exact Degree of Fictitiousness": Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day — by Bernard Duyfhuizen, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Postmodern Culture, Volume 17, Number 1, September 2006.

"We need to recall Pynchon’s publishing history for any assessment of Against the Day because in this new novel Pynchon is particularly aware of his earlier texts. We have come to expect so–called "Pynchonesque" features in his work, such as thematic concerns with paranoia, the role of technology in controlling human lives, and more importantly, the role of governments and corporations (the line between them becoming ever thinner) in guiding those technologies for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. (…) When we put Against the Day in the context of Pynchon’s other novels, we see vectors (a metaphor drawn from the mathematical matrix of the text) that clearly connect it to the earlier novels. The most obvious is arguably the major plot line in the saga of the Traverse family and their response to Webb Traverse’s murder. At the end of Vineland, Webb’s grandson (Reef’s son) Jesse is the patriarch of the Traverse–Becker family that gathers for its annual reunion, thus making him the father of Sasha, grandfather of Frenesi, and great–grandfather of Prairie. The genealogical connections track not only family DNA, but the transformation of Webb’s anarchistic spirit through generations of decline to Frenesi’s role as a government snitch. In the larger story of America that Pynchon’s oeuvre presents, Against the Day redirects our attention to Vineland and to the commentary each Pynchon novel makes about the forks in the road America did not take and to our collective complicity in those decisions."

Against The DayGerman LinksScene Guide

Index Hauptseite Vorwort Die Parabel Michael D. Bell-Summary Against The Day Biographie Dekonstruktion Richard Fariña Robert Frost Galerie Literatur Luddism Mason & Dixon Monographien u. Aufsätze Muster — Patterns Schweine Slow Learner Soccer Sterblichkeit und Erbarmen in Wien Tod und Begnadigung in Wien Proverbs for Paranoids Vineland Weblinks Weiterführende Literatur Wernher von Braun Fay Wray The Wizard of Oz The Zero

Douglas Adams John Barth Samuel Beckett John Bunyan William Gaddis Ivan Jefremow Wassily Kandinsky Douglas K. Lannark Stanislaw Lem Bert Brecht: Laotse David Mitchell Vladimir Nabokov Victor Pelewin Salman Rushdie J. D. Salinger Neal Stephenson Laurence Sterne Arkadi und Boris Strugatzki William Carlos Williams Ludwig Wittgenstein Frank Zappa

WebLinks: Astro–Literatur Comics Downloads Esoterics Galerie Die Genesis Haikus Homepages Jump Literatur Links Lyrics The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Die Milchstrasse Musik Links News Oldenburg@OL Philosophie Playlist Poesie Postmodernism Science Fiction Short Stories Space Space Links Suchmaschinen Zeitarchiv Zitate Home Impressum Blog Gästebuch Page up/Seitenanfang

© Otto Sell — Tuesday, October 24, 2006
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