Jericha's Reviews > Against the Day

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
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"Fuck you, Thomas," explaining, gently, after a thousand pages, that maybe she was oh just a little bit tired of the nonsense and wished he'd just find himself a goddamned editor already, but no, there he was again, two miles into the sky and yeahp here it comes, more nonsensical time-travel to nowhere, last she checked the reason to travel was to get somewhere, or at least to see the sights maybe, not to drift around endlessly in the what-the-fuck-have-we-here until everybody died of boredom...

Hard not to believe after page one thousand sixty-nine or so when she realized that nope, it wasn't going to make any sense, 'course not, shoulda known better to hope for anything on that level of sanity, that most likely nobody else making it through the long stark desert of the act of reading could make head or tail of it either. Contenting herself with the knowledge that they were all figuring incomprehension was shorthand for meaningful artistic experience, lots of big words in there after all and since when is art supposed to be easy anyway.

Not that she didn't love him, well love what he had maybe been at least, like right around Vineland he had been some beautiful football star fresh out of high school and just sweating with sex and promise, and here he was at the reunion old and fat and a little hopeless, all the old beautiful lines still there but lost under the blubber. Dreaming about the glory days under some delusion that it was all still there, if maybe he just talked loudly enough and long enough. Nobody of course willing to tap him on the arm and whisper "Tom...Tom, you're not making any sense, come over here and have a beer, take the load off why don't you, look, even Henry Miller got mediocre in the end..." all the men still admiring him from afar, yep that Pynchon sure is a solid one, why everyone knows he's a genius, remember back during Crying of Lot 49 when we all got the W.A.S.T.E. tattoos, so okay maybe none of us know what he's on about these days but he always was smarter than any of us. The women rolling their eyes in the background. She could still kind of see it, especially around page 800 when all of a sudden he broke into lyric harmony, the first vast graveyard chunk of the book all forgiven for the tenderness, the warmth, the story emerging from its massive four-pound cocoon like a rare and delicate butterfly -- only to collapse, overburdened and confused, a hundred and fifty pages later, with the inexplicable return to total incomprehensibility that would prove to be the rest of its lot in life...

She tried to make excuses for him for a while, but none of it stuck. "Okay," she told herself in the mirror, "turn of the century, the Great War, total chaos and confusion lie on the Earth, why of course it makes sense to write a book just as chaotic and confusing as the time itself, full of math and magic and possibility, and sure let's throw in boys' adventure novels, and a predilection for explicit double-penetration, and higher math and anarchy because that's probably what it was like, maybe," ignoring strenuously the obsessive use of the word "rectal" to modify "fear" and also maybe a dozen or so broadly objectionable one-note ethnic caricatures (peyote-toting shaman, Japanese girl talking -- like this!, assorted "Mexican spitfires," kind of a departure from the living breathing humans like Hector Zuñiga and Takeshi he had written once upon a time, broad though they might have been too, at least not caricatures, no, they were better than that, what had happened?).

But it came to her, maybe somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned pages so unexpectedly like what she had come to think of, gratefully, as a real story, that it wasn't so much that he wanted to put her right in the middle of the dark miasma of the beginning of the century as that he had fallen into it himself. As if he'd found, there traveling through the war-ravaged landscape with three characters he had unaccountably begun to care about, Yash and Reef and Cyprian, a sudden moment of lucid clarity like a man getting his hand above the quicksand in which he is slowly and interminably drowning. She felt less as if he had subjected her to the weight of the book, falling like a cartoon safe on her head, and more like he, Pynchon, was the Wile E Coyote crushed and cross-eyed under the cataclysmic mass of the thing he'd written - dropped out the window onto himself, basically, and left her standing by in something more like annoyance than pain.

She kind of knew at the beginning that he wasn't going to explain anything, of course, and so the whole thing unfolded pretty much predictably, as much her own fault for not throwing it down halfway through as anything. Like sex with someone you once found unattainably beautiful and discover to be now, forever, messily ordinary (still convinced of his own looks, or pretending to be), a little pathetic, too much work, more for the nostalgia value than anything else. Except at those rare, fleeting moments when you catch some old forgotten glint in the eye that leaves you seventeen and shivering again. It's almost worth it. Almost, but not quite.
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Reading Progress

November 19, 2013 – Started Reading
November 19, 2013 – Shelved
November 20, 2013 –
page 203
18.71% "It's not that the writing isn't good, but seriously, we just had the entire life story of a character whose only purpose was to show up, have kids, and die. Just for, I dunno, atmospheric contextulization? No wonder this book is A THOUSAND FUCKING PAGES LONG."
November 21, 2013 –
page 287
26.45% "I'm almost 300 pages in and I still don't know what or who this book is about, except maybe interdimensional beings, but that's just being darkly hinted at."
November 23, 2013 –
page 748
68.94% "Nope, I still have no idea what this book is about. Family revenge, Wild West style? Time travel? Discarded mathematics? I got nothing. And I LIKE Pynchon. \n \n ...or thought I did, anyway. Ackpth."
November 23, 2013 –
page 840
77.42% "More than 800 pages in there's suddenly a deep, touching, intense, meaningful story about an escape through the mountains. Gorgeous, moving. Maybe twenty pages long? Now BACK TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED NONSENSE."
November 24, 2013 –
page 1069
98.53% "Oh god, the horrible, horrible moment twenty pages from the end when I realize THIS IS IT. IT ISN'T GOING TO MAKE ANY SENSE."
November 24, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura ha ha ha. ok, but why'd you give it three stars then?


Jericha Because he's still a genius. I mean, I FINISHED it, didn't I?


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