4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look out for the muted post-horn
Truth be told, I ought not to like this book. I've never been much of a fan of post-modernism, and this novella almost certainly falls within that category. As for conspiracy theory novels, well, don't get me started! But, and here is a very big 'however', this book is funny, perceptive and thought-provoking. It has all the density of Pynchon's other works but in a much...
Published on 17 May 2012 by Mr. M Errington
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curious Tale
Having just completed William Gibson's 'Neuromancer', 'The Crying of Lot 49' came as a welcome contrast. Pynchon's clarity of thought, taste for the absurd, and dark humour distinctly refreshing.
I enjoyed much of the curious digressions of the story, the jumble of odd-balls, the growing paranoia of Oedipa Maas, our reluctant co-executor of a Californian...
Published 13 months ago by Woolco
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look out for the muted post-horn,
Truth be told, I ought not to like this book. I've never been much of a fan of post-modernism, and this novella almost certainly falls within that category. As for conspiracy theory novels, well, don't get me started! But, and here is a very big 'however', this book is funny, perceptive and thought-provoking. It has all the density of Pynchon's other works but in a much shorter form. Read other reviewers to learn something of the plot and characters, but just be warned, reading this might send you seriously paranoid. Unmarked white vans, strange symbols and the revenge of the disposessed all come into it. Then there is the evidence of a collection of strangely defaced postage stamps. It is precisely because there is no satisfactory resolution to the story that you start to worry that some of it might just be true.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Thomas Pynchon,
Some people will find Thomas Pynchons's style almost inpenetrable(it's been described by critics as turgid and overwritten before) - so rather than getting stuck straight into V or Gravity's Rainbow (500 pages +) those who wish to read Thomas Pynchon may like to try this first at a little over 100 pages.
Although there are many comic scenes in the book the overall effect is starkly melancholy, as the main character, Oedipa Maas, prompted by the contents of an ex-lover's estate of which she is unexpectedly made executrix, obsessively pursues a secret postal service with medieval roots in Europe, which appears to exert a malign yet unclear effect on society...or does it? The book never answers this, as it ends just as Oedipa may be about to find an answer.
Instead the reader is left with a bleak sense of Oedipa's growing paranoia, neurosis and unhealthy fixation with the apparent secret society, in a likely metaphor for conspiracy theorists and cults everywhere. It's a funny book, but the madness of obsession and paranoia are well conveyed in the subtext of the plot, and might leave you feeling creeped.......
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, surreal and strangely addictive,
This review is from: The Crying of Lot 49 (Kindle Edition)
For a very short book, this took me a long time to get through it; and the only reason for this is that Pynchon's writing demands that you give your undivided attention to every single beautifully crafted word. This book is the curious (sometimes downright strange and surreal) tale of Oedipa Maas, married to the pitiful DJ Mucho, who can't believe in himself any more after his traumatic post as a salesman in a used car lot, who is appointed executor of her former lover, Pierce Inverarity's estate.
From that point on, Oedipa goes on something of the classic American road trip, attempting to untangle the convoluted affairs of Inverarity, but along the way, uncovering a conspiracy underlying the US mail system, uncovering the source of a text of an obscure Jacobean revenge play, but principally discovering (and losing) much about herself along the way.
The book has a plot which is something of a spiral in form as earlier strands are constantly picked up and dropped again, until the reader, as well as the heroine, is going round and round in circles in the attempt to discover... well, what I'm not really sure, but it was a lot of fun getting there.
I loved the plot of the Jacobean revenge play - I've got to say all those bits about the text and only "words" being left over were my favourite bits, but there's something for everyone in here (music lovers, philatelists, historians, conspiracy theorists... I could go on).
This is a smart, short, slick, funny book - but reading it is a serious undertaking.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good starter to Pynchon,
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If you have not read Pynchon before, this is the one to start with. Tough going but really interesting. I understand from my expert daughter that longer Pynchons are real serious hard work to get through.
Brilliant writing. Hard to describe, but even if you don't continue with his stuff, you must read this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-Modernist Masterpiece,
This book changed the way I think about the world. It's a fun and intrigueing detective story in its own right, but read this in conjunction with some Baudillard anf Lyotard and it will make you question not only the world we live in, but the way you understand it too.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, shocking, or just overrated?,
Thomas Pynchon is widely regarded as one of the great American writers of the twentieth century; an author who leads us down the dark paths of the human mind towards the light of the post-modernist utopia. The glowing reviews of this very book testify to his writing talent and (perhaps surprising) popularity. He is, therefore, indisputably a literary giant, and anyone who purports to have any interest in twentieth century America better have read him. He is also, however, - as another reviewer pointed out - pretentious in the extreme; any author who calls their protagonist Oedipa (oh, I wonder what the allusion is there?) is undeniably that. Having said that, in this book he has managed to reign in his natural tendency to obfuscation. I personally found 'Gravity's Rainbow' virtually impenetrable, not so much because it's too 'complicated' for me to understand, as the fact that it's actually quite boring not knowing what's supposed to be going on, the lengthy Slothrop digression down a toilet being not so much intellectual as pointless, and frankly the final straw before I gave up at about the one hundred page mark. Having read little else in the Pynchon oeuvre I hesitate to comment on his other books (although the mammoth size of 'Mason & Dixon' and 'Against the Day' don't fill me with confidence), but my experience of 'GR' was negative. This, however, is exactly what draws me to recommend 'The Crying of Lot 49'. It suffers much less from the Pynchonesque confusion, and forms a neatly self-contained mystery, a pocket sized post-modernist allusion. It's rewarding as a read in those terms - don't look for realism here - and as an attempt to pierce under the surface of things. Where 'GR' gets lost in its own self-referentialism, 'The Crying' just manages to walk the tightrope of Pynchon land; balanced between collapsing into nonsense and turning into pulp fiction. By managing to tread so close to these twin dangers and escaping Pynchon creates a taunt black comedy, one that leads the reader to the very precipice of literature's own contemporary decline and fall. Don't bother with his great tomes, this is his small masterpiece, and if you don't much like it, well, at least it's only a hundred or so pages.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oedipa's Mess, but what an impressive one,
This review is from: The Crying of Lot 49 (Picador Books) (Paperback)
Despite its brevity in pages, Thomas Pynchon's `The Crying of Lot 49' is one of the most bizarre, erudite, referential and absurdly compelling texts of the post-war period. Truly a text for the intrepid reader, Pynchon's novel centers (if it can be said to do so at all), on Oedipa Maas; an intelligent woman given the task of executor of her employer and one-time lover Pierce Inverarity's estate. In true Pynchonian fashion, Oedipa's apparently routine duty drags her into a world inhabited by The Paranoids, a teenage rip-off of the Beatles, briefly into the embrace of charming former child star Metzger, and finally, into the bizarre world of W.A.S.T.E, a secret postal service, borne out of dissent from a centuries old feud in Europe, between Trystero, and Thurn and Taxis. These strands of plot, though they make a fascinating and purposefully disorientating narrative between them; sometimes press too many themes into too few pages, and whilst this battering of information and experience is impressive, there's a sense of issues overlapping and running into each other a little too much for Pynchon's implied meanings and symbolism to always be garnered by the reader.
There's an absolute wealth of reference in the novel, almost to the extent of `Against the Day' and `Gravity's Rainbow', which will prove both a delight and a frustration, depending on the reader. I personally found Pynchon's reference mixed; with his evocation of Thurn and Taxis' battle for power with Trystero fascinating, and the ten or so pages of a short novel describing a forgotten Jacobean play, a little on the side of overkill. The novel's evocation of Oedipa's experience is perhaps it's strongest point though, with it's interesting indications of her growing uncertainty and excitement, and fears of madness, over seeing the postboxes of W.A.S.T.E everywhere she goes, and acceptance of the loss of her husband Mucho, to the heady peace he seems to find in LSD. `The Crying of Lot 49' is a novel which will frustrate many readers, and one with imperfections; but for those who enjoy a rollercoaster ride through European history, bizarre TV specials and postal conspiracies, all underlined with some suberb subtext and commentary on the postmodern condition and the America of the `60s, then you're likely to find this novel one of considerable enjoyment and worth, even if it's bound to baffle even the most academic readers, at times.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's practically perfect!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Classics) (Paperback)
I haven't attempted Gravity's Rainbow yet but after reading The Crying of Lot 49 know that I will - it's on my bookshelf for the moment I finish DeLillo's Underworld which is an epic journey in itself. If you haven't read any Pynchon, don't even try it without making yourself very comfortable with a notebook, a biro and a perplexed look. Combining a vast complexity of narrative themes and strands, this novel (and it is tremendously novel) also makes startling use of different types of media including film and drama ensuring that the reader is never allowed to relax and miss the point. The reader is torn between voyeurism and genuine fear as Oedipa appears knowing but unwitting and definitely not in control. She's a great creation through which to explore the notions of modern femininity, marriage, religion, our attitudes to death, to drama, to mass media and our insatiable consumption of it, and so many other things that this book explores. Read it at your peril, ignore it at your peril - it's one of those books you didn't know you couldn't live without until you'd finished reading it.
19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hhmm...,
This is one of the strangest yet most haunting novels I’ve ever read. It seems to stand apart from many other novels just by its seemingly obscure subject matter and the way in which it draws you into it. The novel is written in quite free flowing, dense text. This, whilst not making it indecipherable can be quite a challenge at times. It is by this method Pynchon draws the reader themselves into the story. The fact that Pynchon can create so much atmosphere in such a short novel is a testament to his craftsmanship.
The Novel (for me) was mainly about the notion of possibility. Nothing much is resolved in the story but so much is suggested. Is WASTE just an isolated cult in that part of California or is there a sector in every town in America? Oedipa goes through the novel with all these possibilities running through her mind. The more she finds out the more possibilities appear to her. It’s like staring at a dark wall and then suddenly realizing is crawling with ants. Her discoveries could change everything, even the ground beneath her feet or it could just be a joke set up by a dead guy with a sense of humour.
The crux of the novel is quite a frightening prospect. If such a massive network, like this can exist beneath Oedipa’s nose and she has never even considered the existence of it, what else could be there that Oedipa and all of us are not aware of?
Pychon draws the reader into this world which resembles an old fashioned X-Files tale. The detail of the historical information in the novel even makes the reader question whether WASTE exists in the real world. Thus putting us on a par with Oedipa and making the experience of the novel all the more vivid. WASTE could just be a small benign thing that is kept running by a few devoted anti-establishment types or maybe, just maybe...
This novel will certainly stay with me for a long time to come.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Altering Achievement,
Yay... I've read a book without dr who in it... quite an achievement :-)
In most circumstances I'd be left with a feeling of "yes... and...?" if a tale finished like this one did... but strangely enough I don't... it is closed... even though it is totally left unfinished... very weird you get this build up of intensity and pace throughout as the plot twists and mysteries deepen... and then towards the end it kind of slows down, almost like thought processes as you realise you might not actually want to resolve things...
It's an unusal journey for a character... and as I say is pretty much left unresolved... there are still loads of questions about Oedipa and what happens next... but that's right... there should be no resoltuion...
I looked stuff up on Wikipedia - Tristero, Thurn & Taxis... the latter was real... which has made me slightly curious about how much else is factual... books like that are always intriguing... ones that mix fact and fiction into a big mush and you can no longer see where ones ends and the other begins...
I've never been much for conspiracy theories... always figure people are to busy or too stupid to actually conspire... but this is at least plausible... in a surreal sort of way... and as I've mentioned has helped open my eyes to coincidence, or synchronicities - I mean I had always noticed the big ones... just maybe not taken in the actual number of them... or really noticed the little ones... like coming home after reading about the SS Salesman and Tristero to find my partner watching "The Doctor" and on screen are guys in SS looking uniform and others blacked up, all in black and looking all spooky and scary... I wouldn't have really noticed before...
The way that each character that we meet is on their own journey... many peripheral characters in novels serve to advance the plot, and I suppose each journey does do that... but strangely some people get a better conclusion that Oedipa... a more resolved conclusion as opposed to a better one... I don't think walking out to sea, or losing your mind to paranoia or LSD is a "better" conclusion, just more conclusive... Obviously not all... but some...
I did find I had to go back and read some bits over, but i think that's more to do with the distracting nature of trying to read on the bus, rather than any criticism of the author... Some bits made me laugh out loud and made everybody on the bus look at me... Hmmm... paranoia... :-)
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The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Classics) by Thomas Pynchon (Paperback - 1 April 1999)
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