The Crying of Lot 49 - what to expect?

For various reasons I’ve been curious about Thomas Pynchon’s work for ages. I’ve heard Gravity’s Rainbow described as “a plot you will under no circumstances be able to follow” and similar sentiments, so I thought I’d start with The Crying of Lot 49, which seems a slightly lighter read. I reserved it from the local library today (it was on loan). What can I expect? Will it be totally bewildering, a hard slog to get through, a mind screw of titanic proportions?

It is not very hard to follow at all. It’s a mind screw in places, but it is absolutely a great read. Enjoy! (And come back to discuss - it’s my favourite book).

By all means, read it. I have read it 5 or 6 times and it is the strangest thing: even though it is a rather short novel, each time I read it, I encountered a scene I didn’t recall from previous readings. It was almost as if my copy had been re-written since my previous reading.

A person should be able to follow the plot of Gravity’s Rainbow until the narrative disintegrates at which point there really is no longer a plot to follow.

If you have any problems with The Crying of Lot 49:

The plot is very easy to follow. Understanding what actually happened is almost impossible.

What happens is:

A guy who has some stamps dies…the stamps are auctioned.

I love this book. Bear in mind that this book is often taught in the context of Madness in Literature courses, and you should be able to keep your mooring. It’s certainly easier to follow than The Voyeur by Robbe-Grillet or Surfacing by Atwood.

Maybe. Maybe not.

There’s a legitimate question of wether or not the guy even died in the first place, or if the entire thing is one giant practical joke he’s playing on the protagonist. IIRC, the existence of the stamps is also questionable.

Unfortunetly, I can’t recall why any of that’s questionable, I just remember it being a source of debate when we studied the novel in college seven or eight years ago.

I was just being sarcastic. But you a right I should have said:

[spoiler]A guy who has some stamps is said to have died…the stamps are auctioned.

But the “…” just skips over everything important.[/spoiler]

fixed code

Don’t feel bad if you don’t like it. I hated it, but I’m a generally worthwhile person otherwise.

It’s definitely Pynchon’s most accessible novel. Fairly straightforward, though, of course, with hints of deeper doings.

Heh-heh . . . Excellent. Two more reads and you’re Tristero’s forever!

I think Vineland is more accessible, but it is not really that good.