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Letters to Thomas Pynchon and Other Stories

But one afternoon in the mid-sixties, he and his then-girlfriend, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, were driving through Big Sur when she complained of nausea. She wanted to stop at a bar and have a shot to settle her stomach. According to Tharaldsen, he exploded, telling her he would not tolerate midday drinking. It was the only time, says Tharaldsen, who lived with him, that he ever mentioned his family.

A voracious reader and precocious writer, the young Pynchon skipped two grades, probably before high school, and channeled his suburban alienation into clever parodies of authority. He wrote a series of fictional columns under pseudonyms in his high-school paper in which teachers used drugs, shot off guns, and were driven insane by student pranks.

Engineering physics, the hardest program at Cornell, was meant to supply Cold War America with its elites—the best and the brightest, junior league.

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So why would he leave? He was also in thrall to Thomas Wolfe and Lord Byron. Most likely he wanted to follow their examples, to experience adventure at ground level and not from the command centers. Although he did come out of the Navy with the tales of bumbling and debauchery that animate V. But he learned as much from his peers. It was the bildungsroman of his Cornell circle—a group, raised to inherit the Establishment, who built the hippie generation instead.

After graduating near the top of his class, Pynchon declined a teaching fellowship but immediately applied for a Ford Foundation grant to write opera librettos. Pynchon grew up on the genre. That girl and that fellowship may have presented, for Pynchon, an opportunity for a middle-class life—steady income, a wife, a starter home.


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In , Laufgraben married a psychiatrist. Today they live not far from Pynchon, but refuse to discuss the connection.

Michael Curtis, believes that the nose-job interlude in V. Pynchon used the money to skip town. One of the joys of tracking Pynchon is tracing the far-flung interconnections in his work to unlikely real-world experiences—dating an NSA worker; seeing Charles de Gaulle in Mexico; fooling around on a primitive music synthesizer in One colleague remembered Pynchon as ornery and solitary on the job. But he managed to turn in V. His alienation had begun to coalesce into a worldview. If there were no people in it it would be beautiful.

For much of his life he would flee crowds and cities, dipping a toe into cultures and communities and then leaving and skewering them in turn.

"The Crying of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon (Chapter 3)

Friends describe him, in person as on the page, as an incomparable mimic. Only rarely do we see him ask himself why—as when the Sales, later, pressed him on whether he hated Mexico, too.

‎Letters to Thomas Pynchon and Other Stories on Apple Books

Published in early , V. So how could I tell him yeah, yeah right, you got it. For years, Pynchon trackers have wondered about Tharaldsen, listed as married to Pynchon in a —67 alumni directory. The real story is not of a secret marriage but a distressing divorce—hers from Seidler.

Kennedy was assassinated, Tharaldsen soon followed. In Mexico, Tharaldsen says, Pynchon wrote all night, slept all day, and kept mostly to himself. Tharaldsen grew bored of the routine. Soon they moved to Houston, then to Manhattan Beach. He still identified closely with the animals, collecting swine paraphernalia and even signing a note to friends with a drawing of a pig. Once Tharaldsen painted a man with massive teeth devouring a burger, which she titled Bottomless, Unfillable Nothingness.

Pynchon thought it was him, and hated it. Writers use people. Tharaldsen hated L. They paid him, defying his own low opinion of it. By one account, he tried pot more seriously in Berkeley around ; it seems this time it took. He was really crafty, methodical. Pynchon, too, seemed to disperse in the wake of the novel, crisscrossing the country like one of his yo-yo protagonists. His work dwelled on individuals on the run from a totalizing government-industrial complex; now, impossible to locate for months at a time, he came to embody his own literary project. Pity, then, that his decade in the wilderness seemed to sap his productivity.

As if to burnish his outsider status, the Pulitzer jury chose it for the fiction prize but the larger committee rejected it as obscene.

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Pynchon might have been in the city at the time. In a letter that winter to the Shetzlines, he vented his disenchantment with a city whose bohemian heyday was over. And who was he? Occasionally he came out to visit the Shetzlines in rural Oregon. Kirk Sale remembers his houseguest arguing with his kids over which cartoons to watch.

Beal thinks it had more to do with being unknown to a room full of people than it did with the one guy who was hounding him. Between and , he spent more than a year in a neat but tiny redwood cabin in Trinidad, California, separated by feet of trees from the lush, rocky shore of the Pacific. Airstream Land Yacht. Heart of the Original. Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart.

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