Against the Day Weblog

May 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Mr. Pynchon

Filed under: Personal — basileios @ 6:36 am

Are you really 70 today? Can you really be the same age as my dad? I mean, I dont’t know dude, but the reclusiveness business has worked out quite oddly for me. I cannot possible picture you as anything but a guy about my age. Don’t get me wrong man, I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care where you live, I don’t care about anything but the fact that you have produced 7 volumes of works (so far) that have been with me as the closest of friends over the past 17 years when I happened to stumble upon Vineland. And boy if these weren’t full years… I travelled 30.000 km with Gravity’s Rainbow in my bag, I walked miles and miles on top of Greek mountains with V. in my rucksack, I spent endless hours on top of a mountain in Lemnos with an Fn rifle in one hand and Gravity’s Rainbow in the other. These 7 books have been so close to me as very few people – my wife and son – have. These books have been with me in happy times and in very difficult times and have been core elements that have shaped my life and personality (admittedly in not straightforward ways). These books have grown with me, have become part of me, have metamorphosed in my mind through me each offering a multiverse of possibilities about life the Universe and everything.

Six months ago you offered me a gift. Against the Day, your newborn baby was a certainly a gift that I haven’t been able to digest its full power and meaning yet. I only wish I was able to return this gift in some way as I feel that a simple ‘thank you for everything’ may not be enough.

Happy birthday friend, happy birthday Mr. Pynchon.



  1. Against the Day has 70 chapters.

    Comment by Tom — June 18, 2007 @ 3:48 am | Reply

  2. well spotted!

    Comment by basileios — June 18, 2007 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

  3. Well put. I know what you mean, how those books can be closer to you than many (most) people.

    I like to celebrate Mistah P’s birthday by dressing up like him. (Also my favorite last-minute Halloween costume.)

    Comment by IT — December 7, 2007 @ 7:56 am | Reply

  4. Hi:

    Everyday I’m more surprised on how the Pynchon fans (probably fanatics is a better term) are multiplying. I got my paperback copy of “V” in 1969 (Penguin Books); “The Crying of Lot 49” shortly afterward. But, living in the southern end of the Planet (Chile), I couldn’t find any more Pynchon works in our bookstores (too dense, and also in English) and only refound him when Amazon opened (methinks I first bought from Amazon around 1995-97). Then I bought “Gravity’s Rainbow”; “Mason and Dixon” shortly afterwards.

    I the time I skipped “Vineland” because the reviews I read weren’t very encouraging. So I only bought it last year and truly loved it. If you reread it, it’s quite prescient about the times that now strike life in the US (for example “special rendition” aboard airplanes).

    I got my (hardbound) copy of “Against the Day” around November of last year. And I’m *really* enjoying it. Still have around 250 pages to go, but it’s truly an incredible novel. It happens in so many planes, that it’s like Quaternionian space than “ordinary” space.

    Yes, light is very important in the novel, but so is time, dimensions and relations of power.

    I sincerely believe Pynchon is of extraordinary caliber, right up there with Joyce, but only better, because he’s incredibly literate and well researched.

    I’m a Professor in Mechanical Engineering (Applied Thermal Engineering), so quite familiar with many of the terms he uses, and he doesn’t merely “throw” them around, but has a very good grasp of them.

    But what’s really striking in his books is the relationship between “ordinary” folks and Power. At first (in Lot 49) it was the Yoyodyne Corporation; in ATD it’s “the Bad Vibes”…

    Thanks for your comments…

    Comment by Roberto Roman — January 12, 2008 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  5. While I certainly agree that Pynchon & Joyce share the top level in the pantheon of great writers in English, your implication that Joyce’s work was not researched I think is badly unfounded. The man could pun in 3 languages, one of them Eskimo. He knew exactly what he was doing. If Pynchon is better than Joyce, (and I agree, he is), it’s because he’s funnier and his language more contemporary for modern readers. I’ll bet, as a writer, he owes a lot to that old Irish singer, though.

    Comment by Patrick King — August 20, 2009 @ 3:59 am | Reply

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