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Thomas Pynchon

My college roommate, an English major and devout Pynchonite, turned me on to The Crying of Lot 49 and gave me a copy of Mason & Dixon for graduation. While I agree with the criticism that Mr. Pynchon can occasionally be unnecessarily verbose and overly playful (although he'll never be nearly as bad as David Foster Wallace) you can't deny his talent. I don't really know what would possess a man to write a book with so many apostrophes, dashes, and present tense verbs, but, hey!, Mason & Dixon works, and is as entertaining a rewrite of the Colonial period as one is going to find. The adventures of these two chronically unlucky and sobriety-challenged surveyors reveal many droll surprises, from a rave-throwing Benjamin Franklin to a hemp-smoking George Washington to a caustic (but very Learned) talking Dog. Throughout, Pynchon amuses with his innovative take on the American myth.

Although I do recommend Mason & Dixon, it's not exactly subway reading. I enjoyed it, but poring through the faux-seventeenth century prose was like reading Chaucer in the original English. A warning -- The payoff is there, but you're gonna have to work for it.

A pinch of Pynchon.

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