Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, entitled Against the Day, was released this week, nine years after his last novel Mason & Dixon. I preordered Against the Day when it first became available on Amazon, but to be completely honest, I almost forgot that it was supposed to come in around this time. Books are difficult to hype up; the critics who receive them in advance will require a lot of time to finish, especially a dense tome such as this; I’m not even convinced that every critic was able to finish the thing before the deadline forced them to toss up a ‘Pynchon is brilliant’ review or a ‘Pynchon is pretentious garbage’ review. Advance copies of books can’t be easily pirated and downloaded like music and movies are these days, and even if they were, even the fastest readers would require some time to hype it up. The final Harry Potter book is probably the only book I can think of which could potentially reach that stage, just because the interest in it is that high. Then again, I read an article somewhere which basically stated that Against the Day is the only other book which could rival Harry Potter in terms of release-date-anticipation and hype. Understandably so. Yet despite this, any hype that existed was largely beneath my notice, and so I nearly forgot that it was supposed to arrive.
Instead, I’ve been expecting something like five or six packages to arrive around the same time, so yesterday morning I checked my mailbox about nine or ten times, each time coming up empty. For some reason though, just before I left for class, I decided to check my mailbox yet again, almost as a conditioned reflex I get from being in Parrish at all. Yet, lo and behold, a package slip sat quietly in my box.
Could it be printer toner? Could it be a replacement keyboard for my busted Thinkpad? Could it be a band’s t-shirt? Or could it be…isn’t Against the Day supposed to arrive around this time? Well…GUESS WHICH ONE IT WAS?!
Wait, I guess that wasn’t much of a surprise. You’re right, it was the printer toner.
No really, here’s my unboxing of Against the Day, performed surgically on the round table in the Underhill Music Library.
The goods exposed. If you’re curious, I added James Joyce’s Dubliners as a cheap filler to get free shipping. Thanks SlickFillers! Not a bad filler at all, I’ll probably read it on the flight back home or something.
Amazon’s new packaging method, shrinkwrapping your items against a slab of cardboard. I ordered one CD from them, and they did the same thing, and gave the contraption its own large box. Hey, whatever works, the shipping was free I suppose. I’d love to goto an Amazon warehouse and see the machine that performs this shrinkwrapping, it’s probably the best machine ever, I think it would give me beautiful dreams.
The Book. The Book!!! THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! By the way, those are actually drop shadows behind the title, not an artifact of an unstable hand on the camera. I’m not sure I like the shadows too much, plain and simple would’ve done it better for me.
Close-up of that stamp/seal on the cover’s lower-right. It also makes an appearance on the cover page inside. Something tells me that it may be integral to the book’s plot. Or, more likely, not. The plot probably has nothing to do with this seal. Or, more likely, there is no plot. Knowing Pynchon, the dude probably found this at some remote monastery in the Cambodian jungle which used to be the home of the guy who invented gunpowder.
The spine, replete with additional drop shadows and a section of the stamp.
The back. Lookin’ pretty good there, Thomas.
You can’t be serious. How much did this hack get paid?
Book appears to be relatively lengthy. Also, beautiful.
That’s my copy of Against the Day. So what are my thoughts on the book? Haha, you thought I might’ve finished it already? Yeah, lol. I’m not convinced that anyone will actually ever finish this book, sort of like Finnegans Wake or something, except three times longer.
No, but seriously, I’ll probably try and make a dent into it on the flight to Australia next semester, since that’s crossing half the globe latitudinally as well as longitudinally. I’m sure it’ll make me look like an obnoxious and pretentious jerk, which I guess is the only problem. Then again, who else would even try to tackle this thing? I can’t blame anyone for the typecasting, maybe it’s even somewhat accurate. Nonetheless, I’ll have to work through it at some point, and a long flight is as good a time as any.
For now, I got through the first page, and it was basically incredible. Quite a contrast from the stunningly poetic opening page of Gravity’s Rainbow, this one opened with this fun, lightweight scene of dirigible enthusiasts heading off in their airship, en route to Chicago and the World’s Fair. I’m looking forward to seeing how the second page matches up. If I had one complaint about The Crying of Lot 49, it’s that the opening two pages are really boring, so I’m glad that Against the Day has avoided that pitfall. Hopefully its quality will continue to arc upwards. I like how I’m micro-analyzing individual pages of Pynchon novels, but that’s sort of given to you by the writing style.
Before I get to the links, just thought I’d point out that I’ve made some changes to the sidebar links, as I doubt that many of you were interested in reading more about Ornithology in Pennsylvania (sad as that is to me, haha). Not that these are any more interesting, but at least they’re more relevant to what I’m doing with the blog now. Also, on the campus birdlist, I’m now noting updates at the top of that page, so that you can actually tell when stuff happens.
On with the links:
- New Scientist has asked 70 of the world’s most brilliant scientists to offer their predictions on what the next fifty years have to offer.
- Various surveys have been conducted over the years, but this Wikipedia article compiles the results to rank the Presidents of the United States. Unsurprisingly, Abraham Lincoln and FDR top the list, but where do Bush and Clinton fall? Or William Henry Harrison? Reading this article reminded me of how much I loved history in high school, what in the world happened?
- If you’re at the store for holiday shipping, and you want to know if you can find a certain item cheaper online, try Frucall, where you can check online prices from your cellphone. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds like a great idea, and others have gotten it to work.
- Forbes has just published its annual list of the 15 wealthiest fictional characters, and this year, they shook things up by taking Santa off the list! After all, he’s not really fictional, amirite. Witness the aftermath by checking out the list.
- I’ve never watched CSI: Miami before, but this compilation of hysterical one-liners really makes me want to start, one of the better YouTube videos I’ve seen. The Roger Daltrey scream is what totally makes the video. “You don’t spend $1000 on clothes…that you’re never gonna wear…YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
- Equally hilarious is the Nietzsche Family Circus.
- And finally, the Madagascar Pochard has been rediscovered!
- Have a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy the turkey turkey.