Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Clump of Prose a Bit More Mangled Than Usual

I don't think, re: Jack's comment on last week's post about books, that become a completist for any one author suddenly makes my reading any less diverse. Certainly not the case. What I am more curious about, is his comment to the post before that's reference to Powers being like Pynchon--a comparison that almost certainly was gleaned from some blurb or another. My one German friend who reads these dudes in German translation reads them both and he also made the association--possibly from a blurb translated into German, so I reckon its there for the making. But, knowing that Jack is out of town for a week (though I'm sure he'll read this soon enough, with just me and Nate blogging (which is practically just me), there probably won't be much backlog of posted matter (I've been pretty successful, at least for May, in only going to the internet intermittently, which should keep up, so even if I wanted to post every day, "every day" is only a couple days a week anyway)), maybe I should wait, since he's the only person I know that reads this blog that has also read enough Pynchon (Jack, since he's apparently against such things, has not read all of Pynchon's books the way I have (not that anyone can read the way I do--I read often and doggedly--even in my holiday mode of reading this May (just reading novels) I've still read more than necessary (just finished Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle yesterday), or more than I have at any period of my life where I haven't spend relatively large portions of most days on public transport... man, sorry, I lost track of this sentence, got caught up in my own self-celebrating, I guess... I mean, kind of preemptively embarrassed, like "here he [Pete] goes again, talking about how much he f-ing reads all the time..."

But, the aforementioned Murakami book also had a blurb comparison to Pynchon, as did a blurb on the next book I started reading, David Foster Wallace's Broom of the System (a book which, given my apparent track record as a reader, above-terribly-failingly-self-praised, many associates of mine had assumed I'd already read by now). So I guess, if a modern American (male) that isn't Philip Roth and isn't Richard Ford writes a book that seems at all ambitious, it gets compared to Pynchon. Reasonable and not. And there's many ways to compare different authors. I'm trying to think if The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was compared to Pynchon in any of its blurbs (could've been compared to Infinite Jest, though, since it joins the quasi-pantheon of great-novels-with-footnotes (filling out said grouping: Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman and Danielewski's House of Leaves; others out there?)). It sort doesn't mean anything, though, comparing stuff to Pynchon, like comparing stuff to any other established masters, except that I don't get any sense of lineage from Pynchon to these younger writers, certainly an influence, but not lineage.

I'm liking Broom of the System quite a bit, incidentally. Reading it pretty swiftly (or maybe that's just the being-unemployed day-melt of hours-less-meaningful-as-units-of-time-when-you-only-do-what-you-care-to-be-doing-at-any-given-mini-epoch); I'm remembering fondly the breakneck pace at which I devoured Infinite Jest (something I actually nostalogize about kind of often), and then the way that slowly, with time, I liked IJ less and less. Reasons: 1) nobody else has read it, or not all of it anyway, so I've never had a conversation about it that didn't mostly go "Wow, you read that whole thing? I got maybe 200 pages into it and just stopped..." (not quite true; I know two friends that read it and like it more than me (but neither of them have read Gravity's Rainbow)) 2) DFW's oft-maligned-by-me book about Cantor/infinity, which was bad to the point of making me dislike IJ in retrospect.

Not that I'm about to go on a tear and complete my DFW readings (I'll wait 'til his unfinished last novel is published before even beginning to bother).

Anyhoo, all for now.


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