Pynchon Me, I'm Dreaming

A sprawling, overstuffed new novel brings us anarchy in the U.S.A.

Thomas Pynchon on The Simpsons
Courtesy of The Simpsons TM and TCFFC ALL RIGHTS
Thomas Pynchon on The Simpsons


Against the Day
By Thomas Pynchon
Viking, 1085 pp., $35

Let's say you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You've gone to see a show of Steichen's photographs say, or maybe the portraits Rembrandt painted of his wife. Let's say at the entrance you're given an audio tour, a set of headphones that lead you through the museum's collection. Not parts of the collection, but the whole of the whole museum, from Greek vases to Impressionist paintings to early American furniture to religious icons, back and forth, on and on, across every floor and wing and gallery. And in a way, that's what Pynchon is doing, showing us the entire museum. And although some of the detail, and some of the intimacy, gets lost or diminished, a sense of the whole is both worthwhile and inspiring. Against the Day creates an overstocked world, and it's our world, and he reminds us that we're creating that world. In its way, it advocates for the freedom to create the world we want, and although you may be satisfied with a more circumscribed and condensed version of the experience, Pynchon, with all his ambition intact, rails against the day that freedom might ever be curtailed.

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