Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Long Live Vineland!


Despite the critical savaging -- both Michiko Kakutani and Louis Menand, among the country's most astute critics, hated it -- I've been reading Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon because I'm a fan, and that's what fans do. Rather than make any case for or against the book (I'm less than one-third through it), I would like to take a moment to champion Pynchon's least-celebrated novel, Vineland. Set in California during the Reagan administration, it's a typically far-ranging but surprisingly taut revisionist history of the '60s and how it was coopted. The prose moves in an eyes-closed, hunkered-over dance, like a long Neil Young guitar solo with Crazy Horse beside him. It's his funniest book -- and his warmest (or at least, it is so far).

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