Paperback, 152 pages.
Read from January 11, 2018 to January 15, 2018.
It is amazing to me that I have not read anything by Pynchon up until this point. His works are common in University classes but perhaps my professors had more wherewithal than I gave them credit. This is your typical ‘English major’ read that most general readers hate. This novel is a challenging read despite its short length and I think for most people, myself included, no one really fully understands what this novel is about by the time that they finish it. This is the type of novel that needs to be dissected and discussed within the post-modern genre to be fully appreciated and unless you are a big English nerd, most people don’t have the desire or the time to do that so the hate that many people have for this novel is warranted.
Oedipa Maas has recently found out that she has become the executive of a former lover’s estate for which she does not know why. As she proceeds to carry out the will, it leads her down a strange path of new friends, drugs, hallucinations, sex and philosophy. And yes, I would say all of those things go very well together. She also discovers a secret mail delivery service and a century-old feud.
“I am having a hallucination now, I don’t need drugs for that.”
This book has some very clever and funny moments. I did enjoy the bit where Oedipa, in an attempt to win at a game of strip poker, dresses in as many layers of clothing that she possibly can. While in the bathroom she knocks over a can of hairspray and it goes flying around the room at high speed causing her to hide. When all that commotion is over and she finally leaves the bathroom, she is wearing a ridiculous amount of clothing, so much so that she falls asleep during foreplay while her partner attempts to remove it all before they have sex. She only wakes up during the act of it, kind of rapey, yeah. Shortly after, Oedipa discovers the symbol of the secret mail service in a bar bathroom and after, I lost all clue as to what was going on and it is where I started to lose interest in the book.
“[Oedipa Maas] awoke at last to find herself getting laid.”
The novel is a perfect example of a postmodern piece of literature. The movement took place after WII and focused on surrealism and a stream of consciousness type of writing. However, for most readers, it is hard to appreciate that timeframe as we did not live it so a book embodying this genre definitely comes across as strange and even unnecessary.
As I found little enjoyment out this book I cannot rate it higher but I am curious as to what I reread would entail if I knew a little bit more about the background of the book and genre. The book is not long so I would say that it is still worth reading if you already have it on your shelf and have been curious about reading it.