Friday, January 6, 2012

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 46.2 (Thomas Pynchon)

Slow Learner
Pynchon, Thomas
Slow Learner

I don't know where I bought this. I know I bought it when I was in college.

I went through a brief period where it seemed interesting to know more about Thomas Pynchon, quickly discovering that he was famously private. While trying to avoid studying for exams and the like, I can recall sifting through books on Pynchon in the basement stacks at the Fordham library.

There wasn't much to discover outside of his fiction. There was an essay on the Watts riots that appeared in a magazine, but other than that there was very little non-fiction and even less biographical information.

I stumbled upon this book at a bookstore somewhere and was happy to find that it contained a brief, introductory essay that revealed a bit about Pynchon's thinking on writing, politics, the beats, the fifties and sixties, etc. It's actually a great little essay.

One part that always stayed with me was this passage on death:

When we speak of "seriousness" in fiction ultimately we are talking abut an attitude toward death–how characters may act in its presence, for example, or how they handle it when it isn't so immediate. Everybody knows this, but the subject is hardly ever brought up with younger writers, possibly because given to anyone at the appropriate age, such advice is widely felt to be effort wasted.

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