Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

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Specific List Books > The Crying of Lot 49

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message 1: by Megan (new)

Megan Lyons | 14 comments I just did not understand this book. I liked it, I could see that it was clever, but when I finished it, I wondered what on earth it had been about. Anyone have any strong ideas about what the point was? I feel like I should re-read it, but I don't really want to.


message 2: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (A_Bishop) | 74 comments Welcome to Pynchonland. My advice is to wait a year, read some criticism on the book and then read it again. New doors will open, I promise.


message 3: by Gaston (new)

Gaston | 26 comments I think it was largely a social satire wrapped in a conspiracy of sorts (which ultimately drove the main character insane). Pynchon seemed to have an opinion on everything going on during the time of the novel: drugs, doctors, middle aged persons, divorce, big business, etc. Wait till you pick up Gravity's Rainbow. That's when things really start to unravel...


message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin I am reading this right now, and I'm wondering if I'll even make the effort to finish it. The story is fine so far, no big deal, but the sentence structure is just bothering me non-stop! I read some of the reviews on here, and most make me want to at least read a few more chapters...but I don't know if I'll end up liking it or even "getting it" in the end.


message 5: by Gaston (new)

Gaston | 26 comments stay with it. i finished it, didn't understand it, read a different book, then picked it back up. the second time around was like reading a completely different novel. for the better...


message 6: by Megan (new)

Megan Lyons | 14 comments I should read it again.


message 7: by Kecia (new)

Kecia | 46 comments It's about entropy. Pynchon is too smart for his own britches.


message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin I finally finished it, but it took some time. I still don't really know what to say about. I thought it got better towards the second half, although it also got more confusing. I didn't hate it, but I don't love it either.


message 9: by Chel (new)

Chel | 377 comments It was kinda cute and kinda bizarre. I think I would recommend it but just barely as it is almost too absurd for my taste.


message 10: by Zee (new)

Zee (shimizusan) | 97 comments Bizarre is putting it lightly Chel... as with everyone else, i do recommend a second re-reading. It's got so much going on in there that you can't take it all in at once. I actually read it with a critical study guide.. and that's the reason why i have more of an idea about the different things Pynchon was trying to get across.

He's frustrating, but ever so satisfying once you get a grip on it. Mad stuff.


message 11: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte | 5 comments It's been awhile since I read it. Initially, I found the language difficult to get into (I wasn't sure if that was an American-British problem or not). Once I got over that hurdle, I found the story gripping and it raised some very interesting issues, but then it seemed to end at just the moment that it needed something more. Perhaps I am missing something, but it almost felt as though the ending was a 'cop out'.


message 12: by Zee (new)

Zee (shimizusan) | 97 comments :D The ending does feel like a cop-out. But it's actually a device used widely in early gothic fictions, and this 'something missing' feeling is present throughout the novel. It's intentional on Pynchon's part. The reason why the plot turns on letters and a ghostly postal service is to support this theme. We are always led towards a 'secret', and in the end, Pynchon never tell's us that secret. Disintegration, entropy, paranoia and distorted communication; and finally, the actual 'crying' of the lot... but the curtain falls and you never get to see if the Trystero group actually exists. The 'crying' out of the secret is muted (just like the Trystero emblem) by Pynchon himself.

A more understandable version of this device can be found in Edgar Allan Poe's 'Rue Morgue' stories, 'The Purloined Letter'. It's a really short read, but I recommend it. You can study the method in a simpler more accessible format there (if you are interested in that kind of thing!)


message 13: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Hurst (plechazunga) | 1 comments Just re-read after reading his new novel "Inherent Vice". If your new to Pynchon I would first recommend Inherent Vice or The Crying Lot. Both introduce you to his intentionally complex/incomprehensible plots and conspiracies while keeping it short and (for Pynchon) to the point. "Inherent Vice" is probably his most accessible and follows a more-or-less linear narrative structure.

You should also check out his introduction in "Slow Learner" where he reflects on "Crying Lot" and other stories.


message 14: by Zee (new)

Zee (shimizusan) | 97 comments Hi Spencer! I'm putting 'Slow Learner' on my list of 'to-reads'. Thanks for the advice.


message 15: by Paula (new)

Paula | 59 comments I liked it, but only after a friend talked through the book with me. Our discussion lasted longer than it took me to read the book, though. I liked the ending because it was the only part where I imagined I felt the same thing the main character felt throughout the book. That feeling of coming close to comprehension, of feeling like you allmmmosst understand, then ... nothing.


message 16: by Anthony (new)

Anthony DeCastro | 169 comments Paula you've touched on what I took as the "point" of the book. Oedipa as symbolic of the reader. Her search for understanding...our search for understanding. And sticking with it only to find that a true answer is always just out of our reach.

I enjoyed the book, and like others intend on re-reading it - probably later this year - to see if my reach is just a little bit greater.


message 17: by Christine (last edited Aug 17, 2010 05:53PM) (new)

Christine | 124 comments The only reason I finished this book is because it was short. When I read a book like this that everyone seems to think is so wonderful, it sort of reminds me of going into an art gallery and staring at some ugly piece of crap and I'm thinking "that's an ugly piece of crap" and the stranger next to me seems to see something deep or inspiring in it and tells me all about it. I'm left wondering if there's something missing in me that I don't get it, or if that other person is seeing something that really isn't there.

The rest of the Pynchon books on the list have now been moved to the very bottom of my to be read pile. If I live long enough to read everything else on the lists, then I'll consider picking up the rest of the Pynchon.

I'm with this guy, I think http://nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/5...


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol | 99 comments I've read some intense books in my time but you shouldn't have to work so hard to like a story. Fun images but not that great a book.


message 19: by Emma (new)

Emma (WriterInAWheelchair) | 18 comments I am so glad to see I'm not the only one who read this and didn't understand it! I've got another of his on my shelves waiting to read and I'm now wondering if there's any point? (Gravity's Rainbow)


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