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Against the Day Audiobook

Against the Day: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

"Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

"With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred. The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

"As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.

"Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

"Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck."
—Thomas Pynchon

©2006 Thomas Pynchon; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[Pynchon's] funniest and arguably his most accessible novel." (New York Times Book Review)
"Pynchon delivers a novel that matches his most influential work, Gravity's Rainbow...in complexity, humor, and insight, and surpasses it in emotional valence....A capacious, gritty, and tender epic." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (280 )
5 star
 (103)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.9 (140 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (139 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (14)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Drew Austin, TX, United States 05-25-07
    Drew Austin, TX, United States 05-25-07 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Plot, schmlot"

    Plot in a novel is overrated. If you want plot, read Dan Brown instead- though that's all you'll get.

    This is a work of genius- and not only because of the author's penchant for self-promotion and intentional obscurity and obfuscation.

    This is truly a piece of art painted with intentionally hammy techniques and wonderful surreal and non-linear streams of consciousness. All of these things dance around the sensation of the characters, the essence of spirit that the author wishes to share with those who can sense it.

    I laughed when a reviewer preferred to go back to Ulysses instead. Well, that's a mighty difficult yardstick for each and every novel to stand comparison. It's like comparing every portrait to the Mona Lisa.

    Full disclosure: this was my first reading of a complete Pynchon novel. I'm not a literary snob and don't feel the need to crow about how much better his other works are. Some folks more learned and well-read than I am have said Gravity's Rainbow is far superior. Great- more to explore!

    For me, this is one of the most wonderful author "discoveries" since I first read Kafka.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert E. Orlando Long Beach, CA USA 07-26-14
    Robert E. Orlando Long Beach, CA USA 07-26-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Love Pynchon, but..."

    I advise anyone who really cares to read this book on the printed page where it won't be polluted by Dick Hill's intrusive and cloying narration. I tried to listen, but a giving up because I can't bear another minute of Hill.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marco NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK, United States 01-30-14
    Marco NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK, United States 01-30-14 Member Since 2013
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    "terrible reader...overacting, distracting"
    Would you try another book from Thomas Pynchon and/or Dick Hill?

    Pynchon, YES! Dick Hill never again


    Would you recommend Against the Day to your friends? Why or why not?

    No by Dick Hill.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dick Hill?

    A serious and discrete narrator.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The writer.


    Any additional comments?

    It will be fantastic if you open two categories....
    1) similar experience to read yourself ( beautiful tool)
    2) similar experience to hear a terrible movie about the book ( caricaturesque version)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn 12-14-13
    Marilyn 12-14-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worst performance I've ever tried to listen to.."
    What would have made Against the Day better?

    A voice that could be listened to.


    What was most disappointing about Thomas Pynchon’s story?

    Trying to get into the story line and being unable to concentrate on it. How can all the characters have voices changing in adolescence? Dick Hill's voice is one thing but all his attempts to change that voice is unbearable.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Dick Hill’s performances?

    No.


    What character would you cut from Against the Day?

    I have no idea what the book is even about.


    Any additional comments?

    I love long books but this was too poor to even get a feeling for the story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T.Sweeney CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom 03-31-13
    T.Sweeney CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom 03-31-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Kafka meets Gilbert and Sullivan at the OK Corral"
    Where does Against the Day rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Outstanding. I have the unabridged transferred-from-cassette version of Gravity's Rainbow which is a magisterial tour de force, but this Audiobook is not far behind, I find the audio quality is mediocre, though, the voice fluctuating in volume as if wavering. Also, the breaks between parts is not seamless.

    I would also recommend Ron McLarty's reading of Inherent Vice, which Audible seem to have ignored. That is a work of genius, both author and narrator.


    What other book might you compare Against the Day to and why?

    Incomparable.


    What does Dick Hill bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Dick Hill makes every sentence count, and manages to find the right pitch for every occasion.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Loved it.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Len Cambridge, MA, USA 05-12-09
    Len Cambridge, MA, USA 05-12-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant performance"

    The narrator's work on this book deserves to be recognized as one of the great audio performances. Showing infinite patience with an interminable book, the narrator keeps the characters distinct, employing different voices. By bringing out the pathos and humor in each character, he shows that he understands Pynchon's book, or is at least willing to try. His rendering of the Archduke's offensive jokes, for example, is so hilarious that I listened to it about ten times before moving on. I don't think I could have gotten through this book without the narrator's performance, much less keep the narrative straight.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 01-16-14
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 01-16-14
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    "A plethora of characters - too many words"

    This books starts being really interesting, but after a quarter of an hour you discover that your mind has wandered and you haven't listened to the last five minutes at all. You rewind and start over. Same thing after a while again. There are so many characters and the events change so quickly and between caracthers that you quickly lose track of who is who and what they say and why.

    The story takes place at the end of the 19th century. It is a mix of Jules Verne and Charles Dickens. Jules Verne had really interesting ideas and twists and turns (at least in his earlier novels). Dickens had really faboulus characters who became more alive the more you listened to his stories. This book is just a lot of words amassed; it is a lot of exchange of views, but nothing really drives the story forward. It lacks the originality of Jules Verne and the likability and life of the Dickens charaters. Pynchon tries to spice up the novel by placing references to other novels, events, known people, etc. but that just serves to blur the story and make it more confused.

    I have read other books by Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow, V), both of which I really liked. But Against the Day is just so boring, that I listened with some interest only to the first 10 or so chapters; the rest I just forced myself to go thru until I completely lost interest because of all the mannered and affected style of writing after the third part (of seven in all).

    The narrator tries his best to give different dialects and tones of voice to the plethrora of characters. But he breaks RULE NO. 1 for narrators of audio books. Rule No. 1 is to read with a relatively even voice volume. This narrator varies between whispering to almost screaming and every conceivable volume in between. If you set your listening volume to hear the whispering, it becoems far too loud for the screaming parts. So I had to set the volume somehwere in between, in order to not have to change the volume every 15 seconds, and then you miss some of the less loud parts. Not good narrated at all by Dick Hill.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 12-20-13
    Tim United States 12-20-13 Member Since 2011

    I read nothing that is popular.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Dense"

    It was too soon for me to read "Against the Day" by Thomas Pynchon. I should had waited and read some of his other books from his back catalog first before I listened to this epic novel. This is only my second book from this author and I have nothing bad to say because I really like his style of writing.

    Against the Day takes part after the first World War and expands through the globe and the story is all over the map. It's historical fiction with romance and a slight glimmer of tech which makes it good.

    Like most epic novelist, Pynchon writes each of his characters to be the main character in each sub story to the main plot. The book tends to grow on you overtime and wear you out because of its great length. There were times where I couldn't wait to start where I left off and there were times where I needed to take a break to regroup my thoughts and listen again.

    This is no fault to Thomas Pynchon because it's just the attention span to the reader when they are reading over a thousand pages or listening to 53 hours on a book. It is how most readers are. We just need to take a break.

    My take of "Against the Day" is positive. I really liked how the story flows. I would had enjoyed the book more if I was more familiar of Pynchon's work, but from the two books that I've read so far, I really liked his style. I like his uneven storytelling the most. It's like having a floor puzzle with pieces all over and at the last spoken word, you hope to see the whole picture.

    Even after spending quite some time with this audiobook, I have still yet to see the overall picture. I'm sure that the image will come to me after I read more of his classics. Against the Day is not my favorite title in my library and I can see why most listeners takes months to finish the book, but it is not my worst either.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thawstone Reno, NV USA 05-27-12
    thawstone Reno, NV USA 05-27-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing, but..."

    No doubt this is an amazing piece of work, but it's too long and complicated to easily follow on audio. The three stars aren't for the story, but for the story on audio. There are many charactors that come and go, and I could have used an atlas of characters (or a hard copy book) to be able to go back from time to time to get me back on track. Still the story is so creative and fantasic and well written that I continued to enjoy the book despite having become confused as to who was who many times. I'd suggest you listen to one of Pynchon's shorter books, and if you enjoy his style, buy this book in hard copy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Tucson, AZ, United States 11-04-11
    Keith Tucson, AZ, United States 11-04-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good But Dense"

    This book is well written (incredibly written really) but is equally hard to follow if you're not giving it your full attention. I get audio books to listen to as I'm walking or doing chores, so there are occasions were I'm not focused entirely on the book I'm listening too. Unfortunately with this book if you lose track of the story for even a moment it is incredibly hard to figure what you missed. This means a lot of going back which can be frustrating.

    That being said I did love the parts that I knew what was going on. Characters are well written, colorful and varied. On that note, there are A LOT of characters. The book spans generations, and Pynchon jumps back and forth between different character arcs without warning, another reason it's hard to keep track of. huge variety of local all well described.

    The narration was good, never really wow'd me but never detracted from the story either. He also kinda sounds like Stan Lee, which works better for some parts than others.

    Obviously take my review with a grain of salt, I only made it through the first part and a half before I began to completely lose track of what was going on. May come back to it again when I've got the time to devote to it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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