Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Prongs - Eighth Review - The Crying of Lot 49

Dear loyal readers- Prong's here bringing you a new review from the quarantine that is my room. I am pretty sure I have caught the plague and have no intentions of getting up, or functioning like a real human until I feel better. Luckily for you that means I have an ample amount of time to write for the blog. As long as I am up from my death bed by Friday, I have plans to visit Padfoot for the weekend and we should have some other fun posts up for you.
Also, if you enjoy this review please be sure to check out some of my favorite quotes under the quotes section in the side bar. If you have read this book and have any of your own to add please feel free. We are trying to get a good database of quotes from our favorite books.
Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!
"Shall I project a world?"
The Crying of Lot 49
Thomas Pynchon
When my English teacher first assigned us this book to read in a weeks time, I was apprehensive to say the least. While I tend to believe that I am a more proficient reader than most, this was still to be my first Pynchon, and word on the street was that slumming through his writing wasn't a picnic. However I quickly realized that this was far from the truth. What started off as a slow crawl through his complex and intricate details, soon became a full on sprint to the end while I, like the main character, raced forward to arrive at the books final meaning. In this short, but fairly dense novel, Pynchon was able to create an entire world full of satire, conspiracy, and emotion that easily pushes him into the top 5 of post-modern writers. However don't get the idea that this will be an easy Sunday-afternoon read, because that is far from the case. This is the type of book that seeps slowly in your mind and sits there, hovering until you force yourself to be done with it.
As the book opens we are introduced to the main character, Oedipa Mass and given a glimpse into her safe yet tiresome life, when 'so out of nothing' comes the ring of a telephone, and the start of her journey. Oedipa is informed that her once former (and excedingly rich) lover has died, and it is up to Oedipa to execute his will. Here, Oedipa decides to leave behind everything, her life, her husband, and her sense of understanding, to preform her ex's final wish. Through a sheer set of either coincidences or elaborate plans, Oedipa is soon caught up in a whirlwind of mystery where nothing is what it seems, or it is exactly what it seems. LSD, under ground conspiracys, and shoot outs, are just a few of the extreme situations that Oedipa throws herself into, all at the expense of learning the truth behind her quest. As the reader, you begin to find yourself scanning for the countless clues with her, trying desperatly to pieces the puzzle together in your mind before the last page turns.
"…fragile girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in this tapestry, and the tapestry was the world."
But if you are the type of reader who prefers a story with all the T's crossed and I's dotteded then this book certinatly is not for you. After all of the emotional and mental time invested into discovering the truth behind the novel, Pynchon gives the reader a nice slap in the face in the end by revealing nothing. You are left to ponder, along with the characters, how much of what you read was true and how much was just the product of paranoia. There is so much that could be read into this brief novel that I could probably take years to write and interpret the different meanings that Pynchon intended for us to end with. But if you look just carefully enough start to realize that the real lesson of this book is in fact to do just the opposite. Pynchon has created this beautiful and compelling story, all of the sake of a good book. He does not want you to read to much into it, for exactly that reason.
"You could fall In love with me, you can talk to my shrink, you can hide a tape recorder in my bedroom, see what I talk about from wherever I am when I sleep. You want to do that? You can put together clues, develop a thesis, or several, about why characters reacted to the Tyrstero possibility the way they did, why the assassins came on, why the black costumes You could waste your life that way and never touch the truth. Wharfinger supplied words and a yarn. I gave them life. That’s it. "
Pynchon only wants you to enjoy this book for the sake of the book, and that is my best advice to you. Take this book and all of the mystery that comes with it at face value, or you will loose yourself in the complex web of secrecy and conspiracy. Pychon's writing is beautiful and provocative and is worth a 2nd or 3rd read to truly grasp its poetic nature. All in all if you are looking for a good challenge, or at least a way to ease yourself in to this master's works, start with The Crying of Lot 49, you won't be disappointed.

-mischief managed-


  1. This book is on my list of goals...I hope it ends up being one I can stomach.

  2. Hmmmm I can't decide how I feel about this one.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  3. Amazing review :) It sounds good to me. I can't believe you write so well when you feel sick...pretty amazing! You rock, girl :D
    I hope you feel better really soon!

  4. Thanks Chic!! It's only when my fever is up that I start to get kind of loopy haha.

  5. Eeep! Get well soon!

    I haven't read this yet, but it's on the list for this year and I'm really looking forward to it. I loved your review.

  6. Thanks glad you enjoyed it! It is a fun but indepth read. Make sure you are nice and settled in when you tackle it.

  7. This is on my list of books waiting to be read, having read V. Reading Thomas Pynchon's like entering a dreamscape, it appears to make sense as you go along with it but talk to someone else about it & it comes apart, then you're left with fragments & half remembered dialogue. liked your review


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