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27 September 2008

Wrist Exerciser and Seven Other Uses for a Thomas Pynchon Novel

As I am wont to do in September (third year running), I packed a Thomas Pynchon novel as my "light" holiday reading material. Of course, Pynchon is light neither in terms of the ease of the read nor in terms of its weight, although in many ways, both Gravity's Rainbow and Against the Day have a very Dantean feel about them in that Dante's Divina Commedia is supposed to be a divine "comedy" because it skips merrily from high to low style, juxtaposing pieces of high liturgy alongside some nasty scatological detail.

AtD is actually a lot easier to read than GR in that it appears to have both a coherent plot and characters who don't keep morphing into other characters and having weird dreams. So much so that I'm already on page 450, having been sidetracked by a couple of books I bought from Housing Works--The Silence of the Lambs and the aforementioned Posh. I'm finding it hilarious (particularly the names of organisations whose title appears to have been made up to produce an amusing acronym) and interesting, with some beautifully written sentences and some good, quotable passages (this time, I've been careful to make a note of the page numbers in my Moleskine so I don't have more Pynchon-related panics and don't need to buy another copy when I'm done).

It's now reaching the stage where I'm tempted to rip my copy in two and leave one half behind as it really is pretty heavy to carry around and even to hold while waiting in a drizzly queue outside the MOMA. I have no problem with damaging books (breaking the spines, folding over corners, underlining passages, etc.) but ripping a book in two still seems all too Fahrenheit 451 and just plain wrong. That's OK, though, as I have found a number of different uses for the book if I keep it intact:
  1. Doorstop (to save me from finding my keycard if I just need to nip next door).
  2. Theft deterrent (who wants to steal a bag that's so heavy it contains a 1200 page book?). 
  3. Anti-mugging weapon (ka-pow!). 
  4. As a second pillow under my somewhat anaemic current pillow. 
  5. A stand to provide additional height for my mini-tripod.
  6. An extra step to allow my short legs to reach the first step of the ladder up to my precarious top bunk (which still doesn't have a safety bar but I still haven't fallen, either...yet...).
  7. As a way of picking up poncey, literacha-lovin' lads in arty coffee shops like Joe or anywhere along Bedford Avenue. ("Ya, I find Against the Day so much less rewarding than Gravity's Rainbow, don't you?")


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