Lit & The Arts Review: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Discussion in 'Literature & The Arts' started by amantine, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. amantine

    amantine Premium Member

    Thomas Pynchon is one of the strangest novelists around. He has written postmodern classics like V, Gravity's Rainbow and this small novel, The Crying of Lot 49. This is not a normal novel, nor one that is easy to understand.

    Like most postmodernists, Pynchon writes stories that are on almost absurd. Oedipa Maas is married to Mucho Maas, when one day she receives a letter that she is to become executrix of the will of her ex-lover Pierce Inverarity. With the help of the lawyer Metzger, she agrees to do this.

    When she's going through Inverarity's papers, she finds evidence of a strange conspiracy called W.A.S.T.E. Meeting a lot of strange characters on her way, she slowly figures out more about this conspiracy and at the same becomes more detached from reality and more paranoid. The novel really makes you wonder what is real and what is imagined by Oedipa.

    The storyline is certainly strange and Pynchon leaves the novel behind unended. Some characters simply disappear without having realized their full dramatic potential (e.g. the Manni di Presso storyline), but this is all part of the novel's theme of miscommunication and the problems of today's information-based society (e.g. Maxwell's demon). The reason that those characters disappear is that Oedipa simply doesn't realize that they are important.

    When I started reading, I was not sure how good this novel was. As it progressed, I became more enthousiastic. It's fun to read and Pynchon is a great writer. Although, the storyline is a bit absurd, it captivates you and fits well with the themes of the novel.
  2. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member


    Sounds intriguing - I'm going to have to find it - but it also sounds infuriating. I get so caught up in the characters, I wonder how ticked off I'll be when I finish it.

    Thanks for the tip,