Not sure when it happened that I started looking back more than I look ahead.
It used to be when, when, when–I was sure that the best was in front of me and I would get there eventually, now I’m not sure. And for this I blame Thomas Pynchon.
Gravity’s Rainbow was the fundamental turning point in my literary edumacation. It turned reading a book into a process of self-flaggelation, humiliation and ultimately, snide elitism (since I could then boast that I’d finished the damn thing).
Okay, maybe not. It really is a grand book, filled with the kinds of inside jokes (in German), rollicking belly laughs and totally inappropriate sexual encounters which I value so highly.
So, why has Pynchon’s newest sent me into such a tailspin of self-doubt? After all, I confidently skimmed through much of Vineland and can’t remember if I’ve even finished Mason & Dixon, after slavishly reading all of his earlier work. Could it be that I’m not sure I have what it takes to read such a book anymore?
So, here in this personal echo chamber of a blog, I am calling myself out–I’m going to read Against the Day–and I’m going to detail my painful progress back to the self-respecting (nay, self-loving) intellectual snootiness that filled so much of my early twenties with loneliness and (most likely) adult acne.
And I’m happy to report that I have opened the book, and it starts out, promisingly enough, with hot-air balloonists on some kind of mission, stopping at the Chicago World’s Fair, the one detailed in The Devil in the White City.
So, progress so far: 10 days — 15 pages
Fuck you, Pynchon. You haven’t killed me yet.