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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Fiction Library)


The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Fiction Library) Cover

ISBN13: 9780060913076
ISBN10: 006091307x
Condition: Ex-Library
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The highly original satire about Oedipa Maas, a woman who finds herself enmeshed in a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters, and attains a not inconsiderable amount of self knowledge.


"The comedy crackles, the puns pop, the satire explodes." New York Times


"Brilliant...a trim fable of conspiracy and disinformation linked to an 'underground' postal system." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Thomas Pynchon was born in 1937. His books include The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Vineland, and Mason and Dixon.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

chorne, January 10, 2012 (view all comments by chorne)
If you've always heard the term postmodern and wondered what it meant this book is for you. But, this book is definately not for everyone, the plot is unique to say the least, and the characters are not what you will find in most novels, but then again, neither is the intellectual stimulation. In only a little over 100 pages, Thomas Pynchon has written an accessibly managable intro. to postmodern literature. Although this book is rather dense, and is filled with obscure facts and information from seemingly every conceivable specialty of knowledge, it is a great introduction to one of the most misunderstood genres of modern literature. Just be sure to keep a dictionary and encyclopedia handy. The plot revolves around the exciting and often bizarre experiences and travels of Oedipa Maas, after she is named executor of an ex-lovers will. In her adventures she uncovers a surrealistic world where everything that she has ever learned seems to fall into question. It is a world where nazi doctors, secret societies, papal misdeeds, anarchist dreams, and deranged outcasts all come out of the shadows to invade the "typical" suburban landscape of an average American housewife. This book is about uncovering the realities, or lack thereof, that most people would want to stay hidden, or at the least forgotton. It is about questioning the assumptions that we all hold dear, even if it means coming to terms with a world that is without meaning, without order, and most of all without a coherent design. This is a book with many questions to be answered, so if you would like an envigorating intellectual challenge this book will not dissappoint
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greengills, November 19, 2010 (view all comments by greengills)
The first time I read this, I remember being:

1) Infuriated by the length.
2) Slowly driven insane by the idea of W.A.S.T.E.
3) in a jack in the box where scrawled a message on my receipt addressed to the president and mailed it through the waste bin.

I still haven't heard a reply but that doesn't mean there wasn't one.
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jbe, May 4, 2010 (view all comments by jbe)
Thomas Pynchon leaves the reader much to decipher in his extremely complex, colorful, and satirical The Crying of Lot 49. Throughout the novel, Pynchon successfully prompts the reader to question the integrity his reality in the face of an ever-diversifying society. The Crying of Lot 49 is Pynchon’s reaction to the increasing solitude brewing in the 1960’s American counterculture.

The Crying of Lot 49 takes place in the mid-1960’s, around the same time Pynchon composed the work. Thus, the author makes use of a plethora of references to the popular culture of the day. Most prominent are the Paranoids, a group of young American musicians obviously trying very hard to emulate the outrageous success of the Beatles. The counterculture that most of the novel deals with is a product of the unrest largely stemming from the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Pynchon utilizes the anti-establishment sentiment of the time extensively in his fabricated conspiracy theory. Also prominent in the novel is the use of drugs, primarily LSD. The hallucinogen is Pynchon’s major vehicle for destroying and alienating his characters. Pynchon ratchets up the intensity of the feelings of alienation present at the time to create his surreal cast of characters. Thankfully, he keeps the narrative fairly light in nature by writing The Crying of Lot 49 as an absurd comedy.

However, the novel’s thematic foci are not at all comedic in nature. Pynchon’s work deals with a number of serious societal problems he wishes to highlight. The protagonist, Oedipa Maas, has an affair with a lawyer while sorting out the estate of her late boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity. Right off the bat, Pynchon begins painting a picture of moral decline and detachment which stays relevant throughout the work. Metzger, her lover, is written out of the plot, but Oedipa still struggles with the reality of her unfaithfulness. Pynchon writes, “She dreamed that Mucho, her husband, was making love to her on a soft white beach that was not part of any California she knew” (81). Therefore, Pynchon argues, society has faltered morally, but still possesses the conscience to correct itself.

This revelation leads into the novel’s second thematic focus. Protest becomes a large part of the plot as Oedipa discovers the Trystero, an underground mail delivery system for the social deviants of Southern California. The protagonist meets various individuals bearing the mark of the Trystero, all belonging to some subclass of society. Ironically, Pynchon’s novel about a system of communication is really about miscommunication. None of the groups Oedipa meets know about each other and she begins to wonder if the Trystero is a prank, fabricated to facilitate her own alienation from her husband. The novel ends with Oedipa, still searching for answers, watching an auction of Pierce’s belongings, awaiting “the crying of lot 49” (152).

Pynchon’s novel, The Crying of Lot 49, successfully recreates the suspense, absurdity, and social entropy the author sees as a reality. He asks a number of questions at the end of the novel, namely, “Was Oedipa’s ‘odyssey’ a waste of time?” and “Is it alright to not learn from an experience?” Pynchon challenges the reader’s perspective of reality as well as his perception that novels typically conclude with a final realization. For Pynchon, there is no such conclusion. The plot is so messy and absurd that the novel begs for a spot on the shelf next to Kafka. It serves to drive the frantic tone toward the final scene, still asking questions. The author’s use of language (jargon, absurd names, and invented phrases) and character development feeds the overarching theme of social fragmentation and alienation from one’s own identity. This is not to say that The Crying of Lot 49 is an inherently depressing novel. Pynchon makes the reader think. Hard. Few novelists use the laws of thermodynamics or differential calculus as analogies for characters’ thoughts, but Pynchon manages to incorporate both into his narrative. I strongly suggest Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 as a challenging, entertaining glimpse into the American counterculture of the 1960’s.
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Product Details

Pynchon, Thomas
Harper Perennial
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth
Thomas Pynchon
New York :
Married women
Administration of estates
Married women -- California -- Fiction.
General Fiction
California Fiction.
Married women -- Fiction.
Romance - Contemporary
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Perennial Fiction Library
Series Volume:
no. 64
Publication Date:
January 2007
Grade Level:
7.48x5.72x.41 in. .32 lbs.

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The Crying of Lot 49 (Perennial Fiction Library) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 160 pages Harper Perennial Modern Classics - English 9780060913076 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The comedy crackles, the puns pop, the satire explodes."
"Review" by , "Brilliant...a trim fable of conspiracy and disinformation linked to an 'underground' postal system."
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