Another common thread that I've noticed in the works of Thomas Pynchon that I've read so far (Gravity's Rainbow, V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Mason & Dixon, Vineland, and Slow Learner (which to date is all I know of that he's written) ) is a focus on the behavior of people in situations where things are just getting weird enough that they are just hovering on the edge of losing objective reason and stepping into a world of chaos be it internal or external. This provides both an enjoyable tension and an immersive environment so that the story can take wild turns and follow a huge range of directions at once, and still seem very real, even when filled with wonderfully ridiculous things including talking dogs and random orgies.

This craziness comes from several sources, but more often than not draws out the quirkiness of the characters.

Another thing I've noticed is a really cool method of character development where the characters describe themselves through their assosciations and stream of consciousness tangents that dredge up the deep psychological roots of their actions and motivations. This gives his characters a much richer feeling than your average novel.

He also includes lots of puns, dirty songs, and limericks. All in all, I'd say he's my favorite author.

Recurrent characters in Pynchon's novels:
  • Pig Bodine, on stage throughout V., appears several times in Gravity's Rainbow.

  • Fender Bodine, an ancestor of Pig's, appears briefly about 30 pages into Mason & Dixon. Pig Bodine is reportedly an anagram of "Ping Bodie," who was a baseball player.

  • Tyrone Slothrop's nephew, Hogan, appears as a central character in the short-story "The Secret Integration".

  • Yoyodyne appears in both V. and The Crying of Lot 49, and is mentioned near the end of Gravity's Rainbow. Incidentally, even the unattentive viewer will notice it in Buckaroo Banzai and the 8th Dimension.

In seeking to substantiate strange rumors about Pynchon's life I have succeeded only in uncovering new ones. But what did I expect really?

Had he been a member of the Residents? Was Gravity's Rainbow the product of a walkabout in Mexico and informed by little more than a decrepit model kit and a book about swine? Had it been written on graph paper with one character per square? Where would I find my answers?

Before I tell you, I just want you to know that you may really be risking something here, even more than by reading one of Pynchon's books in the first place. These people. . . they're crazy. And maybe you dropped V. before it drove you there, or maybe you are like me and your ignorance seemed to keep you afloat like a life vest in an endless sea until you were picked up by putting it down.

Anyway, go to http://www.themodernword.com/pynchon/pynchon_intro.html, and ask why they call his work a Spermatikos Logos, and why the bio is written in prose more spastic than that of the author himself, ask what they do at their celestial Pynchon gatherings and whether or not the Great Quail is in fact Pynchon himself. If it's true that you never get to touch the Master, this is definitely the place to start tickling his creatures.

But although the site is chock full of info, it did not answer the most burning question I had. Apparently some sick grad student got his hands on the manuscript of Gravity's Rainbow, which the site verifies was written on a quadrille pad, and entered it tit for tat into a computer. He then calculated the median. Since the total number of characters happened to be even the computer spit out the two letters on either side of the line: n/t. The grad student looked up the spot in the book, or maybe called it up on the screen and found an impossible joke had been played on humanity. The n and t had come from the word 'center'.

The answer might be in there somewhere, but I'm afraid to go back.

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