Calling Thomas Pynchon a "virtuoso with prose", the Chicago Tribune compares his work to James Joyce's Ulysses. Pynchon, winner of the National Book Award, has shocked, enthralled, and delighted fans for more than 40 years with his satire and wit.
©1965, 1966 Thomas Pynchon; (P)2005 Recorded Books
"The comedy crackles, the puns pop, the satire explodes." (The New York Times)
The book itself is a modern classic that I thoroughly enjoyed. Pynchon's style, while quirky and oddball, is rich and enjoyable. For the uninitiated Pynchon reader, TLC49 is a great start before delving into his longer more complex works.
The book is fairly well read. However, my biggest hang-up is with the recording itself. From the start, the myriad nasal whistles, throat gurgling and other extraneous noises had me distracted and, by the end, raw with annoyance. Not sure if I should blame the narrator or the recording engineer. Anyway I found that listening in a place with ambient noise made the recorded distractions more tolerable. If not for this drawback, I would have given the rating another star.
I recently rediscovered Pynchon after a brief brush with him in collrege and am in awe of his singularly American genius. This complex, layered, immensely intellectual, wildly wacky, symbolic and ultimately spiritual novella was written in the mid 60's. Way ahead of its time, its scary clairvoyant glimpse into the culture-to-be is classic Pynchon-to-be. In "Crying" we see the genesis of genius and a completely original mind not to be missed by anyone who loves literature. I'm on my 6th reading (listening) of this book and each time I appreciate it more. I like the narration even though other reviews have been negative about it. It's a tough book to read, and I feel this narrator does it justice.
The Crying of Lot 49 remains one of my favorite contemporary novels, but I cannot recommend the audiobook due to Mr. Wilson poor performance as the narrator. He reads like a machine, betraying absolutely no feeling for the work, basic sentance structure, or standard cadence of the English language. I admit that Mr. Pynchon's phrasing is often a bit odd, but Mr. Wilson seems to make no attempt to properly understand or present the more difficult (difficult, but not impossible) passages. Even when reading snippets of poetry or song lyrics, Mr. Wilson fails to demonstrate any sense of rhythm or meter, and manages in one case to deliver a rhyming couplet without the rhyme. I would pass on this one, especially if you have not yet read the book. Thomas Pynchon is not for everyone, but Mr. Wilson's performance here might convince you that Pynchon is not for anyone.
I have read this book twice; this audio version was more comprehensible than either of my previous readings.
Inherent Vice covers much the same physical territory, if Crying can be considered to cover any real geographic location, but the newer book is more playful and less determined to take itself seriously.
The narrator's performance was solid. Didn't overly color the text, which is good, but it did seem a bit too passion-less.
I love Haruki Murakami's A WILD SHEEP CHASE, Umberto Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, and Tom Robbins's EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES and STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER. Now I realize they all can trace their DNA back to this novel. The conspiracy theory. The metaphysical detective story ... or the post-modernist style of wrapping a hidden history or a social commentary within the wrapper of a genre novel.
I regret that this audio recording was my introduction to a Thomas Pynchon work. I think Crying of Lot 49 might be a better more indepth work than what i took from it, but unfortunately it was lost on me due to the readers monotone unexciting performance.
The book itself is not an exciting tale to be sure and the story is hard to follow, but i think it could be appreciate more for the work of art it is in a different form than this (read or different audio production).
This book is boring - just a bunch of random silliness with no plot-connection, just some talk about "coincidences". By halfway, I just couldn't make myself listen to any more. Won't someone please record Gravity's Rainbow so we can enjoy Pynchon?
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I wish the reviewers who liked this book were more specific about what the appeal was. Yes, I know this book is a pomo classic and Pynchon is highly regarded. Still, the book comes across like the 60s head trip that I'm sure was part of the original popularity. A lot of the social commentary I am sure was so much more relevant in 1966 as well. There is still a lot about the social satire that is relevant to our times. My reluctance to be more positive is partly due to the circumstances under which I listened to this book. There are many audio books that work fine in the car. I have no trouble even with a lot of heavy non-fiction. But this book requires a lot of attention. There is so much going on and the plot lines are so ambiguous and convoluted that it's really hard to give this book the focus it deserves while driving. I am giving it the benefit of the doubt here that it actually deserves that focus. Pynchon himself seems to have had second thoughts about that. Perhaps someday I'll listen to it in a quiet corner and consider if it really adds up to something with lasting value or not.
An entertaining, though-provoking novel that stays with you long after you have finished the story. Pynchon has a wonderful ability to pair seemingly unrelated or contradictory images and issues in an interesting and meaningful way.
Really? What the heck was that? If I didn't have such an optimistic attitude I never would have finished ... but I kept telling myself "it will get better, it will all make sense eventually ...". Boy was I wrong.
Except for the rich vocabulary and the good reader it was a W.A.S.T.E of time.
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