The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon (1966)

The Crying of Lot 49 is a 1966 novel by American author Thomas Pynchon. The shortest of Pynchon’s novels, the plot follows Oedipa Maas, a young Californian woman who begins to embrace a conspiracy theory as she possibly unearths a centuries-old feud between two mail distribution companies; one of these companies, Thurn and Taxis, actually existed (1806–1867) and was the first private firm to distribute postal mail. Like most of Pynchon’s output, Lot 49 is often described as postmodernist literature. … In the mid-1960s, Oedipa Maas lives a fairly comfortable life in the (fictional) northern Californian village of Kinneret, despite her lackluster marriage with Mucho Maas, a rudderless radio jockey, and her sessions with Dr. Hilarius, an unhinged German psychotherapist who tries to medicate his patients with LSD. One day, Oedipa learns of the death of an ex-lover, Pierce Inverarity, an incredibly wealthy real-estate mogul, who has left her as the executor of his massive estate. Inverarity appears to have owned or financed nearly all the goings-on in San Narciso, a (fictional) southern Californian city near Los Angeles. … Critics have read the book as both an ‘exemplary postmodern text’ and an outright parody of postmodernism. Contemporary reviews were mixed, with many critics comparing it unfavourably to Pynchon’s first novel V. One reviewer in Time described the novel as ‘a metaphysical thriller in the form of a pornographic comic strip’. In a positive The New York Times review Richard Poirier wrote: ‘Pynchon’s technical virtuosity, his adaptations of the apocalyptic-satiric modes of Melville, Conrad, and Joyce, of Faulkner, Nathanael West, and Nabokov, the saturnalian inventiveness he shares with contemporaries like John Barth and Joseph Heller, his security with philosophical and psychological concepts, his anthropological intimacy with the off-beat–these evidences of extraordinary talent in the first novel continue to display themselves in the second.’ …”
Pynchon’s Demon: Entropy in The Crying of Lot 49
John Pistelli
The Crying of Lot 49 Chapter 1

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