Against the Day.
The Penguin Press, 1120 pages, $35.
Thomas Pynchon’s many fans love him the way teenagers love pop idols. For this kind of attention to be accorded to a writer of long, hermetic novels goes against everything we think we know about what kind of books people like and buy. Pynchon’s anchoritism—no photographs, no interviews, no readings, no appearances—stokes the enthusiasm with which his work is received. There is something delicious in the thought that he could walk among us taking notes without us knowing it. Better yet that he might not even exist—perhaps it’s “Pynchon.” But of course someone knows a guy who knew a guy who smoked pot with him in California. Etc.
Mystery foments interest and Pynchon is in word and deed mysterious, if not perhaps unnatural. Properly manipulated, of course, this situation is a