You think you can read?

I have been reading “The Crying of Lot 49” by Thomas Pynchon for a while — and as for now I am yet unsure if I am really enjoying it. It is, at times, tough going if English is not your native tongue. Pynchon is fond of difficult grammatical constructions and every now and then one can find a sentence that meanders on for half a page or more, taking loops and consisting of entire subplots. Here’s an example for you, it took me a couple of readings to get into grips with what was being said:

Yet at least he had believed in the cars. Maybe to excess: how could he not, seeing people poorer than him come in, Negro, Mexican, cracker, a parade seven days a week, bringing the most god-awful trade-ins: motorized, metal extensions of themselves, of their families and what their whole lives must be like, out there so naked for anybody, a stranger like himself, to look at, frame cockeyed, rusty underneath, fender painted in a shade just off enough to depress the value, if not Mucho himself, inside smelling hopelessly of children, supermarket booze, two, sometimes three generations of cigarette smokers, or only of dust — and when the cars were swept out you had to look at the actual residue of these lives, and there was no way of telling what things had been truly refused (when so little he supposed came by that out of fear most of it had to be taken and kept) and what had simply (perhaps tragically) been lost: clipped coupons promising savings of 5 or 10¢, trading stamps, pink flyers advertising specials at the markets, butts, tooth-shy combs, help-wanted ads, Yellow Pages torn from the phone book, rags of old underwear or dresses that already were period costumes, for wiping your own breath off the inside of a windshield with so you could see whatever it was, a movie, a woman or a car you coveted, a cop who might pull you over just for drill, all the bits and pieces coated uniformly, like a salad of despair, in a gray dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, dust, body wastes — it made him sick to look, but he had to look.

At least now I understand why is it that DF Wallace held him in such a high esteem. Speaking of Wallace, if you’ve read Infinite Jest, there’s an article on Guardian book blog that you might find interesting about a mad idea that some folks in Columbia University had.

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