In May of 1966, Richard Poirier wrote an article on Thomas Pynchon's latest novel at the time, The Crying of Lot 49. Clearly a fan of Pynchon's earlier novel V, Poirier praises what he calls another sample of Pynchon's "technical virtuosity" at "apocalyptic sat[ire]," of "saturnalian inventiveness" comparable to John Barth and Joseph Heller (Poirier 1). He admires Pynchon's adept confidence with philosophical and psychological concepts &endash; "his anthropological intimacy with the off-beat" (1).
Before addressing what he believes to be flaws in the author's narration (the heaviest focus of the scope of his opinions), Poirier starts with a broad survey of Pynchon's intentions with form. Poirier suggests that the various interwoven quests of the protagonist Oedipa Maas is willfully elaborate to reflect the intricacies of the mind, a wasteland of suspicion and imagination. The imagination of the novels characters "first create and is then enslaved by its own plottings, its machines" (1). Late in the novel, as connections to the Tristero cult stack up, Oedipa wanders into the dense environs of nighttime San Francisco, dizzy with her imagination (or was it?) of the underground symbol: "This night's profusion of post horns, malignant, deliberate replication . . . one by one, pinch by precision pinch, they were immobilizing her" (Pynchon 124). Like the characters in V, Oedipa Maas runs from the responsibilities of love and finds herself in a maze. Pynchon mocks these situations "devoid of love" with "Byzantine complications of plot" (Poirier 1).
Concerning Pynchon's characters, Poirier also notes their desperate efforts of co...
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...ility to describe objects within the American scenery with a tenderness for the "very physical waste of our yearnings, . . . the anonymous scrap heap of Things wherein our lives are finally joined" (5). Pynchon has extraordinary metaphoric skill illustrating his reverence for the human endeavor to code, decode and leave messages, to communicate; his own cry at the pathetic and the haunting failure to communicate. Finally, Poirier states that the largest character throughout the Crying of Lot 49 is Pynchon himself, whose voice moves passionately "with its capacity to move from the elegy to the epic catalogue . . . like a survivor looking through the massed wreckage of this civilization" (5).
Poirier, Richard. "Embattled Underground." New York Times on the Web 1 May 1966. 22 September 2000.
Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: Har
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