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text 2016-04-04 21:19
I'm not dead, I'm reading 'Against the Day'
Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon

Greetings! I don't usually make posts unless I've got a book review, however, today I'm making an exception because it's been a while. Four months I believe. Why no book reviews?


Well, firstly, I've been busy. Bad excuse, but there you go. Moving flat, new job, teaching abroad, all sorts. 


Secondly... I've been reading Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon. Anybody who's read this behemoth will understand why it's taking me so long. But I shall persevere.


So, that's it for now. Happy reading.


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review 2013-11-07 23:30
Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon

In the end I don't know what I think of this mess.  There is one good complete novel and the guts of probably one more good one here.  But there are about four more incomplete skeins that aren't very good.  The whole thing seems bolted together by the Webb Traverse thread, or maybe the Chums of Chance narrative.  Hard to say.  I really liked parts of it, but the whole thing was so padded with drivel that it took away from the whole.  


It seems like Pynchon had a lot of ideas and decided to just throw them together without any plan for resolving or connecting things, like writing six novels at the same time and just separating them by chapters.  Each narrative has a different style/genre which is fine as long as the writing is good, but the endless encyclopedic details that fail to advance setting, character, or plot are just tedious.  It reminds me of a kid in high school English trying to impress a teacher with a photographic memory.  It seems like Pynchon wants to emulate War and Peace or Life and Fate.  But the astute reader realizes the man behind the curtain is no Tolstoy, at least not in this novel.


Each part should have been able to stand on its own, but too frequnetly they didn'.  I found the whole Eurasian TWIT parts to be the worst part, full of badly written eroticism and wandering nowhere, just like the characters.


I'm sure the literati see this blender full of words as brilliant and perhaps experimental but I think the emperor has been caught with his pants down.


All that said, it was at times a very funny and shocking book and Pynchon has a talent for the wry metaphor and an interesting narrative.

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text 2013-10-31 00:35
Truly Appalling?
Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon

I'm about 80% finished with Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon and I have to say it is just awful.  Dull to distraction.  The problem is not that it is all that bad as parts.  There are multiple threads and some of them are quite interesting, written in distinct styles, but there are others that are just dreadful.  The other problem is there is little to no connection between the various plot threads and I don't have much hope that they are all going to come together or resolve (the latter isn't always necessary, after all real life does not "resolve").  However I get the distinct impression that Pynchon had the guts of about six different novels here and made an attempt to combine them in a less than satisfactory way.  I have the sense it is like the side of The Beatles' album Abbey Road where there are a bunch of incomplete good/great songs just sort of appended to each other.  The result is less than satisfactory here (unlike Abbey Road).


I have to admit it is a challenge to finish this one.  I just don't care about anyone or anything anymore and the historical framework makes the outcome somewhat inevitable.


Oh, and encyclopedic fact checking that advances neither character nor plot is just pretentious.

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quote 2013-09-14 22:57
“So of course we use them,” Scarsdale well into what by now was his customary stem-winder, “we harness and sodomize them, photograph their degradation, send them up onto the high iron and down into mines and sewers and killing floors, we set them beneath inhuman loads, we harvest from them their muscle and eyesight and health, leaving them in our kindness a few miserable years of broken gleanings. Of course we do. Why not? They are good for little else. How likely are they to grow to their full manhood, become educated, engender families, further the culture or the race? We take what we can while we may. Look at them—they carry the mark of their absurd fate in plain sight. Their foolish music is about to stop, and it is they who will be caught out, awkwardly, most of them tone-deaf and never to be fully aware, few if any with the sense to leave the game early and seek refuge before it is too late. Perhaps there will not, even by then, be refuge.
“We will buy it all up,” making the expected arm gesture, “all this country. Money speaks, the land listens, where the Anarchist skulked, where the horse-thief plied his trade, we fishers of Americans will cast our nets of perfect ten-acre mesh, leveled and varmint-proofed, ready to build on. Where alien muckers and jackers went creeping after their miserable communistic dreams, the good lowland townsfolk will come up by the netful into these hills, clean, industrious, Christian, while we, gazing out over their little vacation bungalows, will dwell in top-dollar palazzos befitting our station, which their mortgage money will be paying to build for us. When the scars of these battles have long faded, and the tailings are covered in bunchgrass and wildflowers, and the coming of the snows is no longer the year’s curse but its promise, awaited eagerly for its influx of moneyed seekers after wintertime recreation, when the shining strands of telpherage have subdued every mountainside, and all is festival and wholesome sport and eugenically-chosen stock, who will be left anymore to remember the jabbering Union scum, the frozen corpses whose names, false in any case, have gone forever unrecorded? who will care that once men fought as if an eight-hour day, a few coins more at the end of the week, were everything, were worth the merciless wind beneath the shabby roof, the tears freezing on a woman’s face worn to dark Indian stupor before its time, the whining of children whose maws were never satisfied, whose future, those who survived, was always to toil for us, to fetch and feed and nurse, to ride the far fences of our properties, to stand watch between us and those who would intrude or question?” He might usefully have taken a look at Foley, attentive back in the shadows. But Scarsdale did not seek out the eyes of his old faithful sidekick. He seldom did anymore. “Anarchism will pass, its race will degenerate into silence, but money will beget money, grow like the bluebells in the meadow, spread and brighten and gather force, and bring low all before it. It is simple. It is inevitable. It has begun.”
Source: omnilogikos.blogspot.pt/2013/09/quote-citacao-14.html
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quote 2013-08-26 10:50
"Trying to kill somebody like Vibe," it seemed to Dally, "best take your lesson from the famous attempt fifteen years ago on Henry Clay Frick, the Butcher of Homestead, which is never go for a head shot. Aiming for Frick's head was Brother Berkmann's big mistake, classic Anarchist mistake of assumin that all heads contain brains you see, when in fact there wa'n't nothin inside damned Frick's bean worth wastin a bullet on. People like 'at, you always want to go for the gut. Because of all the fat that's built up there over the years at the expense of poorer folk. Death may not be too immediate - but in the course of probin around in that mountain of lard lookin for the bullet, a doctor, especially one that treats the upper classes, bein more used to liver ailments and ladies' discontents, is sure to produce, through pure incompetence, a painful and lingering death."
Source: omnilogikos.blogspot.pt/2013/08/quote-citacao-9.html
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