#AtoZChallenge: April 25, 2013 ~ V.









V is Thomas Pynchon’s first novel, published in 1963.  V has two story lines, that ultimately converge on the island of Malta.  V stands for “Veronica”, as well as for the symbol of the two paths converging.  Some say it also stands for Vera (Manganese), and of course Valetta.

The central hero, Profane, ex US Navy sailor, is drawn into hand to hand combat with alligators in the New York sewer…

“What had interested him most were the accounts of Veronica, the only female besides luckless Teresa who is mentioned in the journal. Sewer hands being what they are (favourite rejoinder: “your mind is in the sewer”), one of the apocrypha dealt  with an unnatural relationship between the priest and this female rat, who was described as a kind of voluptuous Magdalen.”

The novel is full of unthinkable, crazy, and adorably unsexy characters…

“It came out that Fina was spiritual leader or Den Mother of this youth gang. She had learned in school about a saint, called Joan of Arc, who went around doing the same thing for armies who were more or less chicken and no good in rumble. The Playboys, Angel felt, were pretty much the same way.”

“In April of 1899 young Evan Godolphin, daft with the spring and sporting a costume too Esthetic for such a fat boy, pranced into Florence. Camouflaged by a gorgeous sun-shower which had burst over the city at htree in the afternoon, his face was the color of a freshly- baked pork pie and as noncommittal.”

“Herr Foppl has ordered all the ladies to dress and make up as they would have done in 1904.” She giggled. “I wasn’t even born in 1904, so I really shouldn’t be wearing anything.”

“Oh I was only a young lad then, full of myth. The Knights, you know, one cannot come to Valetta without knowing about the Knights. I still believe… as I believed then, that they roam the streets after sunset…”

“… And that’s fine. The ride is a bumpy one, the roads sometimes parallel, sometimes divergent, sometimes overgrown with weeds. My favorite passage, for example, involves Father Linus Fairing, a priest who ministers to rodents in New York’s penumbrous underground, his parish “a little enclave of light in a howling Dark Age of ignorance and barbarity.” I could endeavor to explain what his story has to do with either Profane’s picaresque adventures or Stencil’s search for V. But I am not sure it would make much of a difference. Pynchon novels, like certain dishes, tend to only suffer from excessive explanation. I advocate surrender to Pynchon; letting your mind toss on the wild currents of his language is a lot more enjoyable than treating his novels like puzzles, wondering where the pieces fit: Who is Rachel Owlglass? Why are we in Egypt? Just enjoy the bumps—or try to.” ~ Alexander Nazaryan, New Yorker, March 29, 2013

Siege of Acre
The Hospitaller grand master Guillaume de Clermont defending the walls at the Siege of Acre in 1291, by Dominique-Louis Papéty (1815–1849) at Versailles.

4 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: April 25, 2013 ~ V.

Add yours

  1. It was a wild ride. I read it more as a personal challenge, rather than for enjoyment. Pynchon did that to me. I never understood him, just kept reading akin to reading quantum physics or electromagnetism. I felt I would be better off having read Pynchon than not. It was literary masochism. Then there was Gravity’s Rainbow…


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