Monday, February 18, 2013

V. by Thomas Pynchon

First Modern Library edition of V. by Thomas Pynchon from 1966
Thomas Pynchon's first novel, originally published in 1963, is a book that needs little introduction. Pynchon and his work, although widely known, all fall under the categories of cool, weird, and rare, and this Modern Library edition of his first novel is particularly scarce. V. is probably the most concentrated embodiment of what would later be known as Pynchon's hallmark weird, and technically daring style. It is less complex than Gravity's Rainbow, not to mention shorter, but in my view V. is just as good and definitely easier to get through. One plot line follows sailor Benny Profane and hangers-on from the Whole Sick Crew, and the other follows Herb Stencil and his family's history with a mysterious woman known as "V." The intricately laid plots eventually converge on each other as the novel progresses, forming a V-shape itself as Profane and Stencil cross paths and band together at the end to find V. Pynchon's first novel also features an amazingly diverse cast of characters, many of whom appear more prominently in later works like Pig Bodine and Kurt Mondaugen, and different segments set in various parts of history from all around the world. V. marked the beginning of a new kind of voice and style of writing that had never existed before, and is incredibly important for that reason alone, not to mention being the front bookend of Pynchon's oeuvre. This first Modern Library edition features great, simplistic 1960's cover art by S. Neil Fujita.

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