|V by Thomas Pynchon, 1961 - Picador.
I would like to know what it feels like to have read this book in 1961. I want to be 23 in 1961 and to have bought this book and read it without the future having happened yet and without the homogenisation of huge aspects of western culture. It is difficult for me to imagine this for several reasons. Without intending to be self depreciating; I am not intelligent enough to understand the complexities of this novel or why it is such an important work of Postmodern fiction. Also as far as I understand it Postmodernism was a relatively new word in 1961 (and it probably meant something completely different, something useful and easily definable) and so now it is the word that created the world around it, like modernism was intended to do I suppose. Without wanting to be, I am postmodern and so is the world that I live in and every book that is written and, more significant to my appreciation of such things, every television programme, ITV news report konk out.
What this means is that for me, uneducated, desperately interested, forgetful, absent minded, postmodern, V just passes through. I enjoyed it and I wanted to finish, perhaps so that I can tell people that I have read it, but any significance was lost because I am spread to far apart.
Now is the time to explain that this is a rewrite of what I tried to say just after I finished reading V over a year ago (see below). Since then I have read The Crying of Lot 49 and I am about 150 pages into Gravity's Rainbow. What this does is give me an admiration for Thomas Pynchon that is not just based upon what I read in Wikipedia. While reading The Crying of Lot 49 I started to notice the quality of the writing and I wrote down a few lines of it:
In V we are introduced to many characters from across the globe who lived during several different parts of the twentieth century until present day, 1961. These people are either searching for V or in some way associated with a person who is searching for V. V is a woman, or perhaps an object, a place, the number five, and so on.
What happens is that we are taken from place to place and year to year, moving through time without noticing, in our search for V. This adventure, which is not fun, immerses us into a fully imaginable world of typical detective secret agent goings on and all the rest. See how my patience dwindles and I ruin it.
Here is what I wrote before, just as no point. I have just finished reading V by Thomas Pynchon and it was good. I would like to be able to write about it but I am entirely unable due to my lack of intelligence and understanding. Part of me dislikes postmodernism. All of me has no idea what it is and so I am left still wondering what it is that I have experienced by reading this incredible novel. It has pushed me further twoards writing a short essay called Why I Read that will hopefully be physically based on Why I Write by George Orwell. This essay will deal with my previously mentioned lack of intelligence and understanding and how my place in time does not allow me to appreciate a phenomenon such as postmodernism because I am living in it - I am postmodern - V passes through me, I am spread too far apart.
I wonder if I ought to try to explain the story. (I think that) It is a sort of detective novel. It follows to main characters, one is called Benny Profane and he is a schlemihl which apparently means that he is an unlucky or incompetent person - or perhaps both. He lives in New York in the fifties and is just some guy who is not paticularly involved in the main plot concerning V. who is being searched for by a chap called Stencil and he is the other main character trying to find a woman called V. although V. might also by place or the number five or a jazz club. That is the extent of my enjoyment, the letter v was to be found in a variety of places throughout the book. Never mind.
Thomas Pynchon on Wikipedia