I have a guest post over at the excellent Berfrois in which I review the newly released Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon. The piece is licensed under a CC-BY-NC-ND license, so I could post the entire thing here, but I'll let you read the entirety over at their site. For now, here's a taster:
The Cambridge Companion series has become, in academic literary circles, the equivalent to the Hollywood walk of fame; it comes with connotations of canonization, recognition and acceptance. It would seem somewhat surprising, then, to see Thomas Pynchon, the most notoriously elusive author of the twentieth century, a figure who has consistently subverted award ceremonies and rejected honours, bestowed such insider recognition. Of course, the fame is not here heaped upon the man, but as the editors themselves note, in light of the fact that Pynchon’s writings, in their infamous complexity, bind readers and critics together as a community.
This volume, published on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of V. , brings together seventeen of the foremost heavyweights from over forty years of Pynchon criticism in a work tailored for those “who study and teach Pynchon […, to] the non-academic fan” (2). The editors here propose the common reader’s Pynchon, a disentanglement from the various Wikis, obsessive mailing lists, close textual analysis and scholarly works for “advanced researchers”. It is against these ambitious self-imposed standards, then, that the work must be judged.
Featured image by TomSwift46 under a CC-BY-NC-ND license