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V. Paperback – 16 Feb 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (16 Feb. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099533316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099533313
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Product Description

Review

"A remarkable book" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Screwballs chase alligators in sewers in a chaotic and worlwide chase for V., while literary styles, brilliant and bizarre, chase each other" (Books and Bookmen)

"The book sails with majesty through caverns measureless to man. Few books haunt the waking or sleeping mind, but this is one" (Time)

"Mr Pynchton writes with enormous skill and virtuosity" (Times Literary Supplement.)

Book Description

The first novel by the incomparable Thomas Pynchon.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
Elusive author Thomas Pynchon's 1961 debut novel is a truly fantastic achievement. That is, fantastic not in an entirely positive sense, but more in a 'stand back in astonishment' sense, since it is a work of remarkable maturity, virtuosity and energy, and with a scope, level of invention and diversity of characters that most authors will never come close to mirroring. Purely a work of fiction, but referencing real-life characters and events, Pynchon's novel essentially contains two main narrative streams (although within these there are numerous sub-plots) - that of, ex-sailor, Benny Profane and the antics of his gang of New York associates, The Whole Sick Crew, and that of elderly traveller and son of British Foreign Office man, Herbert Stencil, who is embarked on a worldwide search for the mysterious V (almost certainly a woman, who or may not have been involved in a pre-Great War political conspiracy).

Pynchon's writing is bursting with exuberance throughout as his two main protagonists' paths cross in New York in 1956, and they come to realise that they have elements of shared history. Along the way, Pynchon's kaleidoscopic tale throws up more questions than answers, taking in historical events in New York (including an hilarious sequence hunting alligators in the sewers), Florence, Paris, South-West Africa and Malta, and postulating possible identities for his title 'character', including Victoria Wren, Venezuela, Valetta, Vheissu, Veronica (the rat) and Vera Meroving. For me, I found the 'contemporary' American sections most entertaining and compelling, although Pynchon also captures the early/mid-20th century English social and political sensibility perfectly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Gregory on 2 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
If I have one thing to say about reading Thomas Pynchon, it's this: that by the time I finish reading one of his books, I'm sure that I'd understand more of it if I started now. In fact, I tend to start to feel this from part way through. This tends to be for two reasons: the first is that it takes a long time to get through the books. They're very dense, a lot happens, and it's not necessarily connected in ways you might expect. The second is that the guy is so incredibly bright and has in-depth knowledge in so many fields, that, halfway through reading a book, I will normally notice a reference to something I've only just found out about (be it anything from Caesar as God to specific integrations in mathematics).
I've so far read three of Pynchon's novels: Vineland, Gravity's Rainbow and V. V often seems a precursor to G.R., although it's an awful lot easier to keep track of the characters in this book than the other! Basically, if you enjoyed G.R., you'll enjoy this as more of the same, but you may miss some of the depth of the former. Compared with Vineland, however, this is a much more intricate book, less action-based, but with the same wit and attention to detail that makes that novel so enjoyable.
I've given this book four out of five as opposed to the full five mainly on the basis that it's hard work to read. If you're expecting that (which, with Pynchon, you should, really!) then that's clearly not a problem, and you should dive in. If you haven't read Pynchon before, note that it's very rewarding but an awful lot happens in a relatively small number of pages, there are a lot of different characters whose stories occasionally intertwine, and you can either take notes and try to keep track of what's going on, or just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. I have to admit, that so far I've only done the latter!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "burri" on 16 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon", and wanted to read more of this wonderful author's work. This is an incredible tale, stretching over thousands of miles and decades. The Pynchon style is not for everyone, but is character development is second to none, and his ability to go off on tangents in order to add depth without losing track of the plot in great. If you want you mind stretched and be entertained in the process, then maybe it's time that you went looking for "V".
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By Dave Barrows on 9 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'd heard of Pynchon for years but never got around to reading him until now. I need to read this again it was so epic. But first, Gravity's Rainbow. -a new fan
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2000
Format: Paperback
V is an unholy marriage between two different stories. Benny Profane is a beatnik who hangs around New York with a bunch of scoundrels called the Whole Sick Crew. Herbert Stencil is bent on proving that history has been driven by the letter V. The result of the combination is a book with more scope than you can imagine would fit into 450 pages. The book careens around the darkest and most colourful episodes of history by turns. Pynchon has his fingers in so many different pies that he manages to connect a huge spectrum of groups and experiences, and you're left with a jaw-droppingly global, if madcap, perspective, on what it means to be around in the second half of this century: 'Be cool, but care.'
Follow the participants in the V spree as they savour the thrills of Suck Hour in the Rusty Spoon, pursue alligators through labyrinthine New York sewers where a deranged Father once sought to convert rats to Christianity, and realise that a desert siege party is the worst of all places in which to attempt to monitor alien emissions...
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