The Crying Of Lot 49

Trying to put into words the experience of reading The Crying Of Lot 49 is extremely hard. This is an early novel from Thomas Pynchon. Set in 1960s California, the story is said from the viewpoint of one Oedipa Mass. She is called upon to co-execute the will of her former rich boyfriend Inverarity. While working on that, she comes across an intriguing symbol of a muted post horn in a bar bathroom one night. She begins to try to find out what it represents. Over the next several days as she doggedly pursues the real meaning of the symbol, she discovers an underbelly to the world around her, an alternative postage system that has existed since medieval times and still being used today. In the end, the existence of her discoveries is left hanging in the air. It could be real or she could be imagining things.

The book is quite thin. Had it been any thicker I might have given up. Pynchon’s work is dense, complex, bizarre, dreamy, funny and sarcastic. The reader discovers slowly page by page, bit by bit along with Oedipa a bizarre world and what the symbol might mean. The world presented by Pynchon is rich in detail and here the real and imaginary combine and become indistinguishable. What the book leads to might be either gibberish or prodigal, but the journey is damn tripping. I’ll bet not everyone can describe this book or what it really means in a definite way. I need to reread this book someday.

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