There’s a scene in Thomas Pynchon’s great novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, where protagonist Tyrone Slothrop is given sodium amytal and undergoes a sort of hallucination. In Slothrop’s head, he keeps creating variations on the simple, but inexplicable phrase, “You never did the Kenosha Kid”:
(2) Smartass youth: Aw, I did all them old-fashioned dances, I did the “Charleston,” a-and the “Big Apple,” too!
Old veteran hoofer: Bet you never did the “Kenosha,” kid!
(2.1) S.Y.: Shucks, I did all them dances, I did the “Castle Walk,” and I did the “Lindy,” too!
O.V.H.: Bet you never did the “Kenosha Kid.”
... and so on. Since the novel’s publication in 1973, who or what “the Kenosha Kid” referred to remained, in the words of Pynchon scholar Steven Weisenburger, “one of the outstanding enigmas in Gravity’s Rainbow.” Well, no longer. In 2005, Pynchon reader Paul Di Filippo discovered that the old pulp western magazine, Western Rangers, featured a story called The Kenosha Kid in 1931 and informed the Pynchon-L message board. A copy of the magazine was won on Ebay by Paul Mackin, who created scans of its nearly 40 pages. The scans were transcribed into text by the collective effort of a dozen-odd Pynchon fans using a makeshift wiki, and the complete story is presented here at The Modern Word for your reading pleasure. We presume this work to be in the public domain.
The Kenosha Kid by Forbes Parkhill - PDF (formatted text, 31 pg)
The Kenosha Kid by Forbes Parkhill - .doc (formatted text, 31 pg)
The Kenosha Kid by Forbes Parkhill - PDF (36 pg scans of the original pulp fiction magazine)
Read the entire Kenosha Kid sequence in Gravity’s Rainbow using Amazon.com’s full text search feature, here.