The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (REVIEW)

I’ll admit it: I read this book because it’s short. Previously, I’d only read Pynchon’s Vineland, (which was good but not incontrovertibly spectacular, i.e., not enough to definitely convince me I needed to read more of T.P.’s books) and rather than take a stab in the dark at the mammoth Mason & Dixon (weighing in at some 700+ pages), I figured it would be better to take a chance on the paltry 150+ pages of The Crying of Lot 49. So. Here I am.

A blurb on the back of this book says something about “intricate symbolic order,” which means absolutely nothing to me. So I guess it could be telling the truth, but I wouldn’t really know. As far as order goes, the book is remarkably complicated. Especially considering the length. But it’s also about a worldwide conspiracy (maybe), so you have to figure that throws a stick in the cogs, makes things a little more complicated. And it stars (stars? features, maybe?) a woman named Oedipa Maas. It was basically a good read, you could say. I would say. Though I kept getting distracted whilst I was reading it, I’m not sure why. My one complaint was that, as soon as a particular vein of thought started to get interesting, the book shifted gears (my apologies to anyone who’s allergic to mixed metaphors). Which, the thing’s 150 pages and what can you expect.

Otherwise, entertaining and snappily satirical and all that jazz; good but definitely not a must-read. If you happen to like Pynchon, sure, go ahead and read it. If you have no idea who Pynchon is, all the better. Basically, if you happen to find yourself sitting on a bench (or chair, sofa, etc.) and reading this book, it won’t kill you to finish it. You might enjoy it, probably.

(Note: another complaint about the book, which really isn’t about the book so much as the reviewers, has to do with the phrase “tour de force,” which gets bandied about by the one reviewer. My complaint is mostly that I think it’s an atrocious word. I hate it. It means nothing to me. [I know what it means, sure, but it’s an empty word—weak and useless.] I wish people would stop using it.)