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Mason & Dixon  By  cover art

Mason & Dixon

By: Thomas Pynchon
Narrated by: Steven Crossley
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Publisher's summary

Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, and major caffeine abuse. We follow the mismatched pair - one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-Romantic - from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope to pre-Revolutionary America and back, through the strange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment's dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented them by the Age of Reason.

©1997 Thomas Pynchon (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Mason & Dixon

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    4 out of 5 stars

What the hell just happened?

...Whatever it was, I loved it.

No doubt about it, Pynchon is one trippy cat. But his mastery of 18th century English down to the most esoteric colloquialisms—so ably enlivened by Crossley’s Oscar-worthy narration—held my admiration and fascination for hour after often hysterical hour.

I can’t say how much actual history the reader/listener will come away with, but I can say you will return from this magical voyage feeling you were actually there, slogging and supping in the esteemed company of Messrs. Mason and Dixon.

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18 people found this helpful

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What's that all about? Who cares.

It was 2018 I attempted to read this massive book of over 770 pages for the last time. I failed again and swore to myself that I would never again stray away from Nancy Pearl’s 50-page rule. I read over 300 pages and I had no freaking idea what it was all about.

It is 2020 and now I am into Audiobook. I used to look down on people who do not read paper books. I would say “that’s not reading. Bullshit!”. But when you encounter books heavy enough to use as weapon, you really ought to get off the high horse and consider other options. That is one reason I switch to Audiobook. But the real reason I could not let go Mason & Dixon? Because Thomas Pynchon is trippy, and I like trippy, mad writers. So why the hell can I not read his book?

I listened to Audiobook for 33 hours and 55 minutes. I cannot tell you what the hell happened. Oh boy, it was a trip. I was completely consumed by the madness of eccentric, quirky characters and the conversations these characters have. There are stories within stories that are delicious wicked and hysterically funny. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon are British astronomers and surveyors who established the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland. These real-life history figures are the framework for the book. That is just about the only non-fictional aspect of this audaciously inventive book. The book is fictionalized accounts of collaboration between Mason and Dixon. The focal narrator of this adventure is Rev. Wicks Cherrycoke. Cherrycoke is a clergyman of questionable canon and for all we know, his entirely story could be fabrication. But who cares when you have a name like Wicks Cherrycoke!

Throughout the book, Mason and Dixon meet important figures in American history and astrophysics – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Bradley and Nevil Maskelyne. The most remarkable ones are pure Pynchon invention – feng shui expert Captain Zhang’s Learned English Dog and amorous Mechanical Duck. Mason & Dixon is a book of history, inventiveness, word play and mad humor. I am ready for more of Pynchon’s madness.

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12 people found this helpful

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How to do things with words...

This is a brilliantly inventive novel by Thomas Pynchon, full of wonderful characters and outrageous adventures. This novel shows clearly that Pynchon - whoever he is - is very familiar with Britain, British speech, and the eccentricities of British life. At the center of it all is the complex relationship between Mason and Dixon, who can't be together and can't be apart. As usual with Pynchon, science plays a major role in this novel, but it's also a very tender investigation of human relationships. It's also wickedly funny. The reading, by actor Steven Crossley, is well-paced and very enjoyable .

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10 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking

During COVID, I decided to reread all my Pynchon
I got about 1/3 the way through M&D when I realized the beauty of his writing
I decided to start all over and listen at the same time as I had one done with Ulysses
It opened M&D to the masterpiece that it is
Masterful narration by someone who must truly love the book

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5 people found this helpful

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A great premise that disintegrates into nonsense.

Maybe I'm just not a fan of pynchon, who seems like the david lynch of authors. Maybe I just think it's lazy to pepper the gaps in a historical narrative with increasingly tedious delerium.

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3 people found this helpful

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Typical Pynchon in his element

If you liked Against The Day you’ll like this. If you’re looking for anything baudy or action packed like Gravity’s Rainbow, maybe start there or Inherent Vice

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3 people found this helpful

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Great historical fiction and very well read.

The rare Thomas Pynchon long novel that didn't lose me for long periods of time.

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2 people found this helpful

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The ever-obscure, ever-compelling Pynchon sends up Colonial America

This might be a good place to start if you want to read Pynchon for the first time – or it might not. Conspiracies unwound and evaporating into loose strands, characters that strut upon the stage and then retire without another word about them, and supernatural adventures that point – where? Up the line, through the wilderness, to points only the imagination can perceive, if at all.

Mr. Crossley's mastery of the text and the distinctive voices throughout is profound. The best thing about this audiobook.

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2 people found this helpful

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Truly the great American novel

And one that makes me smile pretty much nonstop at all the silly jokes and general right on perspective upon “history” and “tall tales.” Honest, I can’t think of a book or a movie or a record that has made me smile as much as this book/audiobook. A delight for the ages.

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A challenging listen

I wanted to like this story more but struggled to follow the narrative. I hadn’t read the physical book before but found a chapter by chapter synopsis on Wikipedia when I was about 2/3 through the book and didn’t recall most of it. Performance was good but I’m ready to move on.

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