The Rocket

Now don’t everybody yell at once

Online Reviews

These links are all to various reviews written about Thomas Pynchon and his work and placed online for general perusal. I would like to thank Tim Ware, whose HyperArts Pynchon Page was the source of a few of the Mason & Dixon links. If you know of a review we could add, o if you would like to submit one to us for inclusion, send us some email!

Slow Learner

Books of the Times: Slow Learner
Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher
From the March 29, 1984 New York Times, Lehmann-Haupt reviews the book in light of Pynchon’s infamous introduction.

The Apprenticeship of Thomas Pynchon
Wood, Michael
From the April 15, 1984 New York Times, this is a fair review of Pynchon’s early stories.

V.

The Whole Sick Crew
Plimpton, George
From the April 21, 1963 New York Times, George Plimption discusses V. in context of other American postwar novels.

The Crying of Lot 49

Embattled Underground
Poirier, Richard
From the May 1, 1966 New York Times, this is a very insightful review from the chairman of the English Department of Rutgers University.

Distorted Communication in Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.
Geddes, Dan
From The Satirist, September 2002. A retrospective examination of Pynchon’s second novel.

Gravity’s Rainbow

Pynchon From A to Z: Gerald Howard On Gravity's Rainbow.
Howard, Gerald
From BOOKFORUM, Summer 2005, this is a wide-ranging set of reminiscences and opinions featuring "appreciations" by a stellar supporting cast which includes Don DeLillo, George Saunders, Joanna Scott, Percival Everett, Tom Robbins, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lorrie Moore, Andrew Hultkrans, Kathryn Kramer, Lydia Davis, Carter Scholz, Erik Davis, Trey Ellis, Robert Polito, Jim Shepard, Emily Barton, Jay Cantor, Richard Powers, and Steve Erickson.

One of the Longest, Most Difficult, Most Ambitious Novels in Years
Locke, Richard
From the March 11, 1973 New York Times, this is a famous review by the editor of the NYRB, and does a great job of pinpointing the major themes of Gravity’s Rainbow, even if Locke found parts of it cold and dull.

Vineland

Books of the Times: Vineland
Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher
From the December 26, 1989 New York Times, a mixed review containing this lovely phrase, “For all its batty high jinks, his text here is an intentional subversion of orderliness. You’d deconstruct it by pulling its pin and heaving it.”

Still Crazy After All These Years
Rushdie, Salman
From the January 14, 1990 New York Times, Rushdie’s is a delightful and very positive review of an often maligned work.

Vineland retains Pynchon’s sense of the absurd
Webster, Mark
A review for MIT’s The Tech, March 23, 1990.

Pynchon’s Vineland: The War on Drugs and the Coming Police State
Geddes, Dan
From The Satirist, 2003. A post 9-11 retrospective review of Pynchon’s great novel of the American Eighties.

Mason & Dixon

Weird Morning America
McLemee, Scott
From the April 25, 1997 Salon.com, this positive review is accompanied by some wonderful graphics!

Pynchon Draws the Line
Skenazy, Paul
From the April 27, 1997 San Francisco Chronicle, this mixed review is from the provost of Kresge College at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Pynchon Hits the Road With Mason and Dixon
Kakutani, Michiko
From the April 29, 1997 New York Times, this review considers M&D an ambitious and poignant epic.

Surveyors of the Enlightenment
Moody, Rick
From the May 1997 Atlantic Monthly, author Rick Moody gives a positive review, discussing Pynchon and his techniques.

Roman à Cleft
Keough, Peter
From the May 1997 Boston Phoenix, this review is by their film editor.

Dog’s Dinner of a Book
Skea, Anne
From the May 1997 Eclectica, Skea finds it a glorious mess.

Z. Pynchon’s Tiresome Mind Games
Kirn, Walter
From the May 6, 1997 edition of Slate, this is a negative but very attractively laid-out review.

The Great Divide
Boyle, T. Coraghessan
From the May 18, 1997 New York Times, this is a very positive review.

Telluric Texts, Implicate Spaces
Mattessich, Stefan
An insightful and positive analysis of the work from Professor Mattessich.

The Country’s Most Private Writer Breaks his Silence
Welch, Rodney
From the June 1997 South Carlonia Point, M&D is compared to: “winter’s tale: mad, frivolous, fantastic, but also a thoughtful meditation on loss, redemption and time.”

Entropology
Menand, Loius
From the June 12, 1997 New York Review of Books, a very detailed review of an “astonishing and wonderful” book.

Author Pynchon Returns
Reid, James
From the June 13, 1997 Penn State Daily Collegian (a paper your humble quailish narrator one wrote for!), this review finds the novel good, but lacking in urgency.

Pynchon’s Line Dance
Brazell, Bill
From the June 26, 1997 Metro. Compares Pynchon to the Bard, and provides a few links.

Cryptic Messages
de Pastino, Blake
From the July 27, 1997 Alibi. Enjoys the themes, but finds the prose style too thorny.

Great Expectations
Mr. Mxyzptlk
From the July 28, 1997 Suck. Needless to say, the review finds that the book, well, sucks.

Mason & Dixon
Siegel, Mark
From the August 1997 H-Net, Siegel (heh heh) calls this the “greatest of Pynchon’s works.”

Good and Plenty
McConnell, Frank
From the August 15, 1997 Commonweal. The last line says it all: “This is the book of a lifetime, and God bless him for it.”

Making the Rounds of History
Hinds, Elizabeth Jane Wall
From the 1998/99 Electronic Book Review (ebr8), this is a fairly sophisticated look at M&D.

Mason & Dixon
Daw, Larry
Spermatikos Logos’ own Dr Larry Daw’s disppointed review of Mason & Dixon.

Linear Pynchon
Pelovitz, David
From e-Zone, a positive and descriptive review, with some (largely out-of-date) links.

Mason & Dixon
Duyfhuizen, Bernard
Posted on the HyperArts Pynchon site, this review is by an editor of Pynchon Notes.

All Lined Up: Pynchon Goes Long and Connects Again
Boyd, Greg
From Eye magazine, this short review is positive but fairly simple.

Mystery Train
Livingstone, David B.
A mixed review from Spike magazine.

A Review of Mason & Dixon
Alford, Steven E.
Professional book reviewer Steve Alford gives a mixed review to M&D.

Mason & Dixon
Unruh, Wes
From Green Man Review. A short, positive review from the “roots and branches of arts and culture.”

An Interview with Nikolaus Stingl
Phillipp, Claus
An interview with Mason & Dixon's German-language translator, translated for the pleasure of English-speaking Pynchon fans by The Modern Word.

Against the Day

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, Leslie
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, James
L.A. City Beat, 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.

Pynchon-Related Works

Lineland Review
Daw, Larry
Spermatikos Logos’ own Dr Larry Daw’s take on Jules Siegel’s book about the Pynchon Internet community, Lineland.

Pynchon Notes 34-35 Review
Tabbi, Joseph
From Studies in the Novel, 1988. The author of Postmodern Sublime looks at the Warwick Pynchon Papers.


–Allen B. Ruch
20 December 2006


“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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