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V.

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  15,705 Ratings  ·  807 Reviews
Having just been released from the Navy, Benny Profane is content to lead a slothful existence with his friends, where the only real ambition is to perfect the art of "schlemihlhood," or being a dupe, and where "responsibility" is a dirty word. Among his pals--called the Whole Sick Crew--is Slab, an artist who can't seem to paint anything other than cheese danishes. But Pr ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 640 pages
Published January 2nd 2001 by Contemporary French Fiction (first published August 1st 1963)
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MoviesForYourBrain Yes; I say this because Pynchon's style is really love-it-or-hate-it, so I would read V. first in order to kind of see whether or not you like his…moreYes; I say this because Pynchon's style is really love-it-or-hate-it, so I would read V. first in order to kind of see whether or not you like his style or not. If so, then move on to Gravity's Rainbow. Happy reading, my friend!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aubrey
4.5/5

Knowledge is a funny business. Everyone pretends omniscience in the classroom, but god forbid you spout off like an intellectual outside of it. And then you have the subculture of people making an effort to read Pynchon in public, and the other subcultures that amuse themselves at their expense. The verdict seems to be know it all, but please, spare us from your efforts to prove it.

I'd sell my soul to write like this at the age of six and twenty. There, I admitted to lack of know-how when i
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
How Hard Can It Possibly Be?

"V" isn't so much a difficult novel to read - it is after all just words, most of which are familiar - as one in which it is sometimes hard to understand what is going on and why.

What does it mean? Does it have to mean anything? How does it all connect?

Ironically, if not intentionally, the inability to determine what and why, as well as who, is part of its design. Pynchon mightn't want to answer all the questions he or life asks.

However, that doesn't mean there isn't
...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 13, 2016 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
So I opted to tango once more with Thomas. The results are a mix of the same frustrations I had with the first 150 pages of Gravity’s Rainbow (dropped thereafter), and a newfound appreciation for the most famous maximilist’s skill for writing sentences of incredible inventiveness, rhythm, and frenetic lunacy. After 300-odd pages of this novel, the niggles (new and old) returned—the introduction of innumerable madcap characters and their endless zing-flinging dialogue in the same voice; the overa ...more
Madeleine
I propose that the titular "V." is neither a person nor a place but a preposition.

What, really, is more personal than a first novel? It's that all-or-nothing, balls-to-the-wall debut effort that can either send a fledgling writer plummeting to dream-shattering depths with an effort that falls flat for any number of reasons or it can be the inaugural celebration all starry-eyed young scribes dare to hope for, that which heralds a staggering new talent to a canon populated by the many great wordsl
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Say a man is no good for anything but jazzing around. He'll go live in a cathouse, he'll jazz it all over town.”
When I’ve been reading V. I couldn’t get out of dictionaries and encyclopedias – the book is a carnival of words and ideas.
People like anything: gossip, rumours, hearsay, tall tales, myths – the only thing they don’t like is truth…
“Geronimo stopped singing and told Profane how it was. Did he remember the baby alligators? Last year, or maybe the year before, kids all over Nueva York bo
...more
Jimmy
Nov 16, 2008 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"A phrase (it often happened when he was exhausted) kept cycling round and round, preconsciously, just under the threshold of lip and tongue movement: "Events seem to be ordered into an ominous logic." It repeated itself automatically and Stencil improved on it each time, placing emphasis on different words-"events seem"; "seem to be ordered"; "ominous logic"-pronouncing them differently, changing the "tone of voice" from sepulchral to jaunty: round and round and round. Events seem to ordered in ...more
Sean Wilson
Apr 16, 2015 Sean Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Thomas Pynchon... twenty six years old... first novel... twenty six... first novel... twenty six?

Reads like The Adventures of Tintin on hallucinogens. Full of great comic scenes mixed with political espionage and paranoia amidst philosophical comments on the nature of politics, religion, death, time, sexuality and war. V. is undeniably complex and I can admit that there were moments of mind numbing confusion, but the book is so beautifully written that you just go for the ride. It's a haunting a
...more
Dave-O
Jul 13, 2007 Dave-O rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Thomas Pynchon's first novel is like plunging head first into a room with very little light. As the novel progresses, Pynchon regulates that light sometimes letting the reader see very clearly, narratively speaking, and other times enveloping the reader into near darkness.

The two main characters are discharged Naval officer Benny Profane the self-described "schlemiel" and Stencil, the hunter of the elusive woman/idea known only as V. Though not exact opposites, their destinies do not int
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Feb 21, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: V.
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Stencil
It’s a long distance from 1963 to 2009. The prior, V.’s pub date. The later, when I thought maybe I had found perhaps the Pynchon key in Inherent Vice. I unlocked a bunch of great stuff with that key. Fantastic stuff. Stuff I dug. Stuff I got lost in. Against the Day. The newest thing. That one from the early ‘90s. I’m still waiting to see if it fits Mason & Dixon. Gravity’s Rainbow is next, but I’ve already done 2/3 of that one and know I don’t need no damn key for it.

That key doesn’t fit
...more
Nate D
Nov 17, 2008 Nate D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Schlemiels, adventurers, foreign agents
Recommended to Nate D by: Jeff Geisinger
What to say of Pynchon's half-century spanning epic?

Like Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon's first novel (published, I think, at an astonishing age 26) is concerned with questions of life and death, here both at the internal, personal scale of our relations to people, things, and the outer world, and on a broad international scale of war, colonialism, and political intrigue. Linking the two, Herbert Stencil, adventurer and obsessed historian, tracking the intertwined history of his British foreign off
...more
Geoff
Jul 04, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Ignore talk below of my previously setting this aside - I am giving it try #2 and am enjoying it much more - perhaps it's the timing - it begins on Christmas Eve and the first chapters unfold during the week between Christmas and the new year...
Michael Finocchiaro
The search for the identity of V is the primary question in this masterwork from Pynchon. It is funny and tragic and crazy and totally Pynchon. I honestly cannot remember everything this book - it does not stick in my memory as much as Mason&Dixon, Gravity's Rainbow or Against the Day. I mean, I loved the pleasure of reading it. But months later, I remember just the story of the genocide in Africa and some other snapshots but overall the image remains vague. Perhaps I read too much Pynchon i ...more
Mariel
Nov 28, 2007 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: yesterday didn't know either
Recommended to Mariel by: tomorrow never knows
I'm suffering from a painfully drawn out flu so I feel bad enough already. It can't be made worse by trying to review V. on gr. (If I wanna hit my head in frustration, well, it already hurts plentiful.)
V. was my first Thomas Pynchon. I chose it because it was cheapest (used). I like discounts. The notes in the margins for a college paper were fun too. I'm proud of my mercenary side. Now the self-congratulations end and I'll wrestle my mind and alligators in those mental gutters to convey why thi
...more
Stian
Sep 25, 2013 Stian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, 2016
Thomas Pynchon has written some of the best pieces of English fiction that I've ever read. He projected worlds in Against the Day and in Mason & Dixon that were amazing, magical, utterly enthralling. The world he tries to project in V., however, went over my head.

The writing feels upolished, unrefined, not really the Pynchon I've grown used to. The sub-plots and digressions, which are rambling to an extreme degree even for Pynchon's standards, are less-than-stellar most of the time. Except
...more
Lane Wilkinson
Feb 03, 2008 Lane Wilkinson rated it did not like it
EDIT: I give up again. 'V' is a travesty of juvenile puns, unconvincing dialogue, and (my own pet peeve) characters with impossibly trite names. Seriously, what gives?

EDIT: I decided to try reading it again.


have you ever had the feeling that an author is simply trying to bludgeon you over the head with abstruseness? have you ever read one of those books that all of the "serious readers" swear is an infallible masterpiece, despite its meat-fisted appropriation of the stylistic innovations of Eli
...more
Mk Tantum
Jul 19, 2007 Mk Tantum rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Thomas Pynchon and those who adore reading with a companion.
From this book I learned that:

a) Thomas Pynchon may be the smartest man alive.
b) Pynchon's vocabulary is one of the most extensive I've ever come across.
c) Reading Pynchon is tedious and often unpleasant.

Even with the companion and a book discussion group, reading this novel was like wading through a bog. Every time I grasped the plot, I'd lose track of Pynchon's message, and every time I caught a glimpse of the message, I lost the plot.

No wonder the man's a recluse. Talking to him must be like
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Aug 21, 2015 J.L. Sutton rated it it was amazing
Thomas Pynchon's V is one of my favorite novels (it's on my rotating list of favorites which also includes Dostoevsky's The Idiot, Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead and a few others). Describing it is next to impossible (for me at least). V seems like it's about so many things, but when you stop to think about it, it's not about any of those things at all, but something else. The main protagonists include Benny Profane, Rachel Owlglass, Stencil, a group of artists known as the Whole Sick ...more
Franco  Santos
3.5

Notas tomadas durante la lectura:

(view spoiler)
...more
Nicole
Feb 05, 2008 Nicole rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I tried, lawd knows I tried.

“It is something less than heaven
To be quoted Thesis 1.7
Every time I make an advance;
If the world is all that the case is
That’s a pretty discouraging basis
On which to pursue
Any sort of romance.
I’ve got a proposition for you;
Logical, positive and brief.
And at least it could serve as a kind of comic relief:
[Refrain]
Let P equal me,
With my heart in command;
Let Q equal you
With Tractatus in hand;
And R could stand for a lifetime of love,
Filled with music to fondle and purr t
...more
Mattia Ravasi
Jan 08, 2017 Mattia Ravasi rated it really liked it
Video-review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prMAv...

A puzzling but glorious read that is, paradoxically enough, both breath-taking fast and extremely broody, thrilling and self-absorbed. It will require quite a lot of dedication to be fully enjoyed.
Christopher
Pynchon takes his readers on a wild ride. We attend a party on an abandoned cruise ship. We witness an assassination in Cairo. We hunt alligators in the sewers beneath New York City. We time-and-space travel to 1904 Namibia to witness the Herero Revolt and ensuing genocide. Florence, Italy to watch an ill-conceived attempt at stealing Botticelli's Birth of Venus. We study atmospheric radio disturbances with a crossdressing German lieutenant. The list goes on...

The characters are as diverse as th
...more
Oscar
Si leer 'La subasta del lote 49' es como prepararse la mochila con un bocadillo y una botellita de agua para pasar el día en el campo, la lectura de 'V.' supone sacar la caravana con lo que ello conlleva, es decir, preparar la tienda de campaña, comprar víveres y coger ropa suficiente porque vas a estar fuera una par de semanas, vivienda en plena naturaleza. Por esta regla de tres, el día que me decida a afrontar la lectura de uno de los libros de más de mil páginas de Pynchon, será como prepara ...more
Stela
Sep 22, 2016 Stela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
After 70 pages or so that bored me silly I decided to give it up. I know the author was young (a mere 26 if I remember correctly) but this does not completely justify the sponge-like absorption of so many and so different influences (from Heller to Joyce and Virginia Woolf and magic realism and so on), that cannot really talk to each other so that the narrative seemed to me like a fabric whose threads were all cut and left hanging.

Maybe, another time (another life) I will try to read a maturity
...more
Daniel Chaikin
Dec 31, 2015 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent last night thinking about this book when I should have been sleeping. That's a far cry from where I was a few weeks ago, lost in Cairo and ready to toss the e-book...and where I was again in Florence. Namibia was terribly disturbing, but I had to respect the effort. Malta was a bit slow too. But Pynchon never lost me for a second in Paris and when he got back to Malta again, I was fully engaged

What the hell am I talking about, you might ask, if you haven't read this. (And probably you ha
...more
Jeremy
Sep 24, 2011 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
V. is like some weird, half dreamed dispatch from a mind that is hermetically sealed off from the world. It's a book that seems to revolve more around a specific set of images and motifs, clocks, yo-yo's inanimate objects, Malta, espionage, etc. than around a set of characters, though the characters are often compelling and weirdly poetic in their own ways. It's hard to believe that this book is almost 50 years old. The way it tries to tie together so many odd, all but forgotten historical threa ...more
Cymru Roberts
Oct 09, 2012 Cymru Roberts rated it it was ok
Thomas Pynchon is supposed to be a premier American author. When deciding which book of his to read first, I took some advice from a reviewer and picked up V. V. is Pynchon's first novel, and according to the reviewer, it is shorter and easier than his most famous book, Gravity's Rainbow. Taking this into consideration, it was an ominous sign when I lifted V. from the library shelf to find it so thick. Clocking in at 547 pages, I knew I had a wordpuker on my hands.

Then we get to the names. The n
...more
Oriana
There is an image that I will always remember from this book. The main gal, V, wears spike heels all the time, and lives in NYC, right? And so there's this scene where she is described as the kind of girl who can walk over sewer grates in these heels, and always lands square on the intersection of the beams in the grate, you know? So she never falls in or fucks up her shoes.
sologdin
Nutshell: orthographic mystery spins out of control as narrative ponderously stencils over trifling profanities.

Quite an achievement. Probably should’ve read this prior to reading Underworld, Dissident Gardens, or Bleeding Edge--all New York stories, working out of the same imaginary as Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn. The first chapter of V is the closest to Selby, and it’s almost unreadable. After that, it calms down and is readily digestible in large pieces.

Ian Vance is correct that the marxist
...more
Sentimental Surrealist
That four's more of a 4.5, and I've toyed with the idea of kicking it up to the full five, because here's a book that's really resonated with me. See, I used to live like the Whole Sick Crew. If you've read this book, you know what I mean. If you haven't, imagine this: going from a low-wage job straight to the home of the guy with the weed, staying up until absurd hours partying, reading the beatniks and Palahniuk for the sake of looking like some sort of countercultural badass, and discussing w ...more
Jake
Oct 10, 2009 Jake rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
At one point in V., one of Pynchon's characters is pontificating on his Beat Generation ennui, and decides that the best tact in life is to "Love with your mouth shut, help without breaking your ass or publicizing it; keep cool but care." Much of this novel seems to be about Pynchon's post-college struggle to find a way of living— some middle road between existential despair and the Romantic path of old. Both of the narratives involve groups of people struggling to find meaning against the backd ...more
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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American writer based in New York City, noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known today: V. (1963 ...more
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“Life's single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can ever admit to in a lifetime and stay sane.” 1084 likes
“Keep cool but care” 167 likes
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