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Against the Day: A Novel | [Thomas Pynchon]

Against the Day: A Novel

This novel spans the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I. 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.
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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

3.4 (241 )
5 star
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3.7 (105 )
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Story
4.0 (103 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    nancy campione 05-31-09 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    639
    48
    FOLLOWERS
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    8
    1
    Overall
    "COULDN''T LISTEN TO THIS BOOK"

    This is one of a very few books I haven't been able to finish, and I've read and listened to a great many books.

    There didn't seem to be a plot, the characters were cartoonish, at best. Sorry to say, I thought it was awful, and after giving up the first time, I went back several months later and tried again.

    I know Pynchon has a big fan base, but if this book is indicative of his style, I just dont' get it.

    5 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Panama City, FL, USA 08-19-09
    Thomas Panama City, FL, USA 08-19-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
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    117
    7
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    0
    0
    Overall
    "Save your credit, El Stinko"

    Previous reviews I wish I read first before wasting a credit. They say it all

    Nancy: This is one of a very few books I haven't been able to finish, and I've read and listened to a great many books.

    Daniel T: I have perhaps listened to over 100 books over the years and have never failed to finish one. This one was so bad, so poorly written that try as I might, I couldn't get through more than about 20% of it. Yuck!

    Jack: Difficult to follow and seemingly disjointed. I never finished the first segment. Given that life is finite, I urge you to spend your time wisely; don't buy it.

    I only wish I took the time to read their comments before I bought this stinker. I have over 1,500 Audible books and this one is in a class by itself, only the 2nd one I have bailed on, a real nonsensical stinker, save your credit

    7 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Bronx, NY, United States 02-17-10
    Andy Bronx, NY, United States 02-17-10

    Andy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
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    "Pynchon warns us, so pay attention"

    An odd story. You have to meet the book half way. Pynchon said his characters would stop what they are doing to sing a stupid song, and they do. In the end the book is fun, but for me it's Dick Hill's narration that makes it accessible. ALERT: the book is not available in the Enhanced format (at least as I write in Feb '10).

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan D. 04-07-09
    Dan D. 04-07-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    53
    8
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    "Worst audio book I have ever purchased"

    I have perhaps listened to over 100 books over the years and have never failed to finish one. This one was so bad, so poorly written that try as I might, I couldn't get through more than about 20% of it. Yuck!

    I generally love longer books (I read Mitchner's "The Source" three times), but this one is the exception. The narrative wanders aimlessly around, with so much useless blather, that I found myself yelling "Get on with it!"

    This book needs to be deleted and the trash immediately emptied thereafter.

    5 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Fallbrook, CA USA 12-30-08
    Amazon Customer Fallbrook, CA USA 12-30-08 Member Since 2008

    star gazer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    34
    7
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    Overall
    "Great fun, great names"

    This book is so much fun in so many ways, but I'll just focus on one -- the names. I suffer from biblianomia, a word I made up for inability to remember fictional character names. My paper books are full of highlighting and notes, so I wasn't sure about a 1,085-page book with over a hundred characters. I needn't have worried. The names Pynchon gives his characters, plus the narrator's masterful handling of each voice, made it easy. The itinerant mechanic/photographer is Merle Rideout. The anthropologist is named Provenance. And so on. Even minor characters get great names. My favorite is Mia Culpepper, who was mentioned briefly but so far hasn't been heard from again. I keep expecting her to show up feeling guilty about something.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rod MILPITAS, CA, United States 05-20-07
    Rod MILPITAS, CA, United States 05-20-07 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    12
    6
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    "Well crafted road to nowhere."

    I loved the author’s literary style and use of language. He creates numerous interesting characters that he always abandons in mid-circumstance. After listening to over 5 hours I realized the book has no plot whatsoever and I gave up listening.

    3 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louise WINTON, CA, USA 12-30-07
    Louise WINTON, CA, USA 12-30-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    122
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    198
    51
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    11
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    Overall
    "Dissapointed"

    After 4hours I simply had to give up. Sad I have no idea what this story is about nor can I name any characters.

    3 of 12 people found this review helpful

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