Mason & Dixon

“Now single up all lines!”

Against the Day
This page is devoted to materials focusing on Pynchon’s most recent novel, Against the Day. It contains links to resources, book reviews, and academic papers. Look for this page to expand as the novel develops a body of criticism and analysis. If you have anything to add – including yourself, Mr. Pynchon – please email us. You may also drop us a line if you can explain why so many critics feel the need to begin their reviews with a bad puns.

Spermatikos Logos Resources

Modern Word Review – The Modern Word’s (early) review of Against the Day.

Offsite Resources

Against the Day Wiki – A growing resource for readers of Against the Day, this amazing wiki is open to contributions. Absolutely essential.

Against the Day Links – Otto Sell’s fabulous collection of links to Against the Day resources.

Amazon.com listing for Against the Day – A convenient source for purchasing the novel and browsing various reader reviews.

Random House UK Against the Day Page – The official Web site from the UK publisher.

Blogs

Sporadikos Logos: Against the Day – This blog chronicles the thoughts of Basileios Drolias as he reads through the novel. Catchy name, too....

The Chumps of Choice – A community blog for a Web-based group reading of Against the Day.

Ten-to-One Against the Day – Kevin Marzahl uses his reading of Against the Day as a spirngboard for commentary.

Reviews

Pynchon’s “Against the Day” Glows
Unknown
Publisher’s Weekly, October 24, 2006. The first of many reviews praising the novel’s imagination but expressing concern about its length.

Against the Day
Moorcock, Michael
Daily Telegraph, November, 2006. In this favorable review, science fiction and fantasy icon Michael Moorcock places Pynchon’s novel in the tradition of visionary fiction.

Light Reading
Keough, Peter
The Phoenix, November 14, 2006. Keough calls Pynchon the “anti-Beckett.”

Pynchon vs. the Toaster
Lacayo, Richard
Time Magazine, November 14, 2006. A mixed review that closes with the belief that Pynchon has “Jumped the Shark.”

Pynchon: He Who Lives by the List, Dies by It
Kirsch, Adam
New York Sun, November 15, 2006. After curiously dismising the novel as a mere collection of lists, Kirsch laments that Pynchon’s response to violence is “childishly sentimental.” It closes by sateing that “Thomas Pynchon is no longer the novelist we need.”

You Hide: They Seek
McLemee, Scott
Inside Higher Ed, November 15, 2006. “To discuss the book adequately would demand a seminar lasting four months, which is also the ideal period required for reading the book — instead of the four days it took one reviewer, who then promptly had a mild nervous breakdown.” Nevertheless, McLemee provides a charmingly personal account of his attempt, and manages to pull a few excellent observations from his breakdown.

Against the Day
Rothkopf, Joshua
Time Out New York, November 16, 2006. Rothkopf lauds Pynchon’s imagination and prose, but craves a more organized structure.

Thomas Pynchon’s Novel is High-Voltage
Freeman, John
Seattle Times, November 17, 2006. A generally positive, if a bit superficial, review.

“Reader beware...”
Rankin, Ian
The Guardian, November 18, 2006. Crime writer Ian Rankin talkes about Pynchon, his work, and anticipates reading Against the Day.

Plugging Away at a New Leviathan
Dubail, Jean
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 19, 2006. A kind of spoilerish review by a Pynchon fan who wonders if the book will appeal to the average reader.

Inspired Chaos
Feeney, Mark
Boston Globe, November 19, 2006. Feeney takes delight in the book, “rich and sweeping, wild and filling.”

Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day
Gathman, Robert
Austin American Statesman, November 19, 2006. A disappointed Gathman pines for the days of V. and Gravity’s Rainbow. “This is the saddest review I will ever write.”

It’s Worth Breaking Out of the Author Comfort Zone
Liquori, Donna
Times Union, November 19, 2006. Liquori discusses her experience as a first-time Pynchon reader—and it’s positive.

It’s a Sprawled World, After All
McLemee, Scott
Newsday, November 19, 2006. Given a few more days to think, McLemee organizes his “nervous breakdown” into a coherent and well-balanced review.

The Marxist Brothers
Moore, Steven
Washington Post November 19, 2006. Although Moore praises the novel, he reasonably concludes, “Pynchon fans will accept this gift from the author with gratitude, but I’m not so sure about mainstream readers.”

Pynchon Weighs In: Jokey, Dense, 1085 Pages
Romano, Carlin
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19, 2006. A somewhat rambling but generally positive review.

Post-modern Pynchon
Sorrentino, Christopher
LA Times, November 19, 2006. Sorrentino examines the novel’s complexities and themes of paranoia.

Do the Math
Menand, Louis
New Yorker, November 20, 2006. Menand feels a mix of frustration and awe with Pynchon’s “dizzy” sprawl.

Pynchon Stirs Up Trouble with a Unique World View
Minzesheimer, Bob
USA Today, November 20, 2006. In this lightweight, cursory review, Minzesheimer finds the book “raunchy, funny, digressive, brilliant, [and] exasperating.”

Back in the Aether Again
Jacobs, Ron
Dissident Voice, November 20, 2006. In this glowing review, Jacobs makes an eloquent case for the novel’s relevance: “This novel leads to the beginning of the human catastrophe we now call history: the Twentieth Century.”

A Pynchonesque Turn by Pynchon
Kakutani, Michiko
New York Times, November 20, 2006. Unsurprisingly, Michiko Kakutani finds the book “a humongous, bloated jigsaw puzzle of a story, pretentious without being provocative, elliptical without being illuminating, complicated without being rewardingly complex.” Let the reader beware.

Pynchon’s First Novel in 10 Years has Sex, Explosives
Seligman, Craig
Bloomberg News, November 20, 2006. Ignore the slapdash title—Seligman’s review is a concise and insightful discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of Pynchon’s epic.

Gravity’s Author Just Got Heavier
Crace, John
The Guardian, November 21, 2006. Crace dismisses the book – which he has admittedly not read – with a strange mix of hostility and prideful ignorance: “If Pynchon is a genius, then his talents lie in marketing rather than writing.”

The Fall of the House of Pynchon
Miller, Laura
Salon.com, November 21, 2006. In a fairly snarky review, Miller finds the book an overwrought slog, and contends that Pynchon’s “disciples” such as David Foster Wallace and Neal Stephenson have far surpassed him. Although it falls short of an outright hatchet-job, it’s clear that Miller has different ideas of “surer, more nuanced, more adult” fiction that the average Pynchon reader. Also, it would be nice if she could outgrow the use of the royal “we.”

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind
Leonard, John
The Nation, November 22, 2006. A rolling an exuberant review that takes a pretty funny shot at The New Republic as well.

The Gathering Storm
Fischer, Mike
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, November 24, 2006. A fairly descriptive review that concludes with a comment on the power of fiction, it also sports a charming illustration.

Pynchon’s Flying Circus
Adair, Tom
Scotsman, November 25, 2006. Adair discusses the comedic aspects of the book, and concludes that Against the Day is Pynchon’s finest work since Gravity’s Rainbow.

There’s No Doubting Thomas
Gale, David
The Guardian Observer, November 26, 2006. After a lengthy discussion of the Pynchon “cult,” Gale agrees with the opinion expressed by many reviewers: “All that is glorious and exhilarating about Pynchon is found here, but the problems of scale are taxing.”

Mystery Man’s Last Hurrah
Kelly, Stuart
Scotsman, November 26, 2006. An enthusiastic call for Pynchon to win the Nobel, the review concludes that his new novel is “an exuberant, imaginative and ultimately life-affirming coda to an illustrious career.”

Gweetings, Gentlemen
Martin, Tim
The Independent, November 26, 2006. “Against the Day is a startlingly discontinuous novel, a work of full-spectrum intelligence and erudition that is at times bafflingly tiresome and ungenerous to the reader.”

Thomas Pynchon Unpacks a Big Bang Story
Melo, Richard
The Oregonian, November 26, 2006. A positive review that suggests Against the Day is Pynchon’s Brothers Karamazov.

Dream Maps
Schillinger, Liesl
New York Times Sunday Book Review, November 26, 2006. Schillinger gives Against the Day a suitably long and nuanced review. Highly Recommended. Not sure about the illustration, though....

Aubade, Poor Dad
Clute, John
Sci Fi Weekly, November 27, 2006. Science fiction writer John Clute praises the breadth of Pynchon’s vision in this literate and engaging review. Highly recommended.

New Pynchon Novel All a Fan Could Want
Moore, Steven
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, November 29, 2006. An abbreviation of Moore’s Washington Post review.

Thomas Pynchon and the Myth of Invisibility
Ratcliffe, Sophie
The Times, November 29, 2006. Ratcliffe offers an insightful and positive review, sprinkled with generous quotations.

Lead Zeppelin
LeClair, Tom
Book Forum, December/January 2006. An enthusiastic fan of Gravity’s Rainbow, LeClair provides a well-argued critique of Against the Day, which he finds “too much like the Chums’ balloon...a vehicle of tourism, repetition, and entertainment.”

Around the World in 1085 Pages
Rosenbaum, Jonathan
Chicago Reader, December 1, 2006. A somewhat tentative review that explores Pynchon’s need for excess.

A Gas-Guzzling, Tailfin-Sporting Masterpiece
Jones, Malclom
Newsweek, December 1, 2006. The final installment of a three-piece review, the title says it all. It’s worth reading all three installments, as well—the delightful Jones writes with wit and honesty, and makes some fine observations.

Pinning Down Pynchon
Editors
The Guardian, December 1, 2006. Comments on the reception of Against the Day in the UK press.

Invisible Man
Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic
Financial Times, December 2, 2006. Beginning with a discussion of Pynchon and his reclusivity, Hunter-Tilney ultimately finds Against the Day a disappointment.

Take with a Big Pynchon Salt
Kennedy, Douglas
The Times, December 2, 2006. Kennedy compares Against the Day to Wagner’s Ring Cycle: “Well, it has some terrific quarter-of-an-hours.”

Heapin’ Helpin’
Gonzales, Ariel
Miami Herald, December 3, 2006. This good-humored review finds the book insufferable, audacious, imaginative, and long.

Thomas Pynchon vs. the World
Gessen, Keith
New York, December 4, 2006. Gessen reads many modern-day parallels into a novel he considers twisted, paranoid, and fun.

Pynchon’s Characters Chat their Way through his Novel’s Tedious, Jerky Plot
Doody, Terrance
Houston Chronicle, December 1, 2006. Doody, for the most part a Pynchon fan, offers an angry review that is best summed up by its title.

Let Pynchon Be Pynchon
Hollingshead, Greg
Globe and Mail, December 2, 2006. Hollingshead throws his hat into the “It’s no Gravity’s Rainbow” ring, contending that Pynchon has gone too deep into his own head.

Pynchon Himself?
Packham, Chris
Kansas City Star, December 3, 2006. Packham finds the book direct, accessible, and even hopeful.

Pynchon Me, I’m Dreaming
Haskell, John
Village Voice, December 7, 2006. A favorable if slightly precious review, Haskell frequently suggests that the novel could be shorter and more focused.

Flight of Fancy
Shinder, Dorman T.
Denver Post, December 9, 2006. A generally positive review that describes the basics of the novel and touches on its political message.

Enigmatic Novelist Delivers Another Dense, Majestic Plot
Allen, Bruce
Washington Times, December 10, 2006. Allen’s positive review looks at the Snovian aspects of the plot, which straddles the “two cultures of science and literature.”

It’s All about Bigging it Up
Dugdale, John
Sunday Times, December 10, 2006. “It’s a Moby Dick with no Ahab, and no whale.”

Pynchon Throws Down the Gauntlet
Hellman, David
San Francisco Chronicle, December 10, 2006. Hellman echoes the by-now standard review: “...despite all the noxious flimflam, the glacial pacing and the self-indulgent and seemingly never-ending prattle, there is actually a remarkably accomplished and worthwhile novel buried in here.”

Pynchon, Passion, and All that Jazz
Seaman, Donna
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 10, 2006. An effusive review: “Verdict: A rich, imaginative epic of wonder and depravity.”

Into the Light of ‘Day’
Miller, Anthony
L.A. CityBeat, December 14, 2006. An enthusiastic review by a Pynchon fan.

Chaos Theory Put to the Test
Goldblatt, David
The Independent, December 15, 2006. In a frustrated but often humorous review, Goldblatt finds the novel not to his taste, stylistically or philosophically.

Pynchon Casts a Savage, Postmodern Eye Over Contemporary Life.
Macris, Anthony
Sydney Morning Herald, December 15, 2006. A level review with a nice illustration, Macris finds it “less a novel than an enormous new planet freshly arrived in the Pynchonian solar system.”

Readings: Against the Day
Renovitch, James
Austin Chronicle, December 15, 2006. “Pynchon’s writing style – in turn blindingly precise and beautifully oblique, here bearing an emotional weight, as well – demands that you not decide, but think.”

Against the Day
Esposito, Scott
Rain Taxi, Winter 2006/2007. A lucid and balanced review that examines Against the Day as an extension of Pynchon’s lifelong project.

Articles

Return of Pynchon, the Literari Hermit
Ford, Matt
The First Post, November 20, 2006. Yet another piece on Pynchon, his reclusivity, and the cult surrounding him.

“Against the Day,” at Night
Tracy, Marc
New York’s Daily Intelligencer, November 21, 2006. A report on the midnight sale of Against the Day at Saint Mark’s Bookshop in New York.

Readers can Share Pynchon’s Long “Day”
Hoover, Bob
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 28, 2006. A forum for readers to share early thoughts on Against the Day.

Read the Novel, Then Update the Wiki
Thompson, Chris
East Bay Express, December 6, 2006. An interview with Tim Ware, founder of the Pynchon Wiki and the HyperArts Pynchon pages.


–Allen B. Ruch
(With help from the Pynchon List)
16 January 2007

“Welcome to Dr. Larry’s World of Discomfort,” he would whisper, going through the paperwork.
Contact Dr Larry Daw if you have any questions or comments about Pynchon.

Goodo,” said Picnic, blinking. “Man, look at the quail.”
Contact the Great Quail if you have any suggestions, submissions, or criticisms about this site.


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