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    Before, During, After

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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Against the Day: A Novel

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Against the Day: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9781594201202
ISBN10: 159420120x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2007 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Staff Pick

Against the Day switches as smoothly from Tom Swift-style "boys adventure" to a Gothic prairie tale in the vein of Cormac McCarthy, as it does from reverence for historical figures and events to explosive iconoclasm. Its world is filled with dirigibles, barely perceptible anachronisms, photography chemicals, and ridiculously subtle puns. Nobody does Pynchon quite like Pynchon.
Recommended by Jeff G., Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Pynchon's works are prodigies: they do everything but move us. But they certainly are prodigious....Pynchon is easy to like politically; but this book's will-to-nullification is deeply frustrating....This novel systematically denies the reader any purchase, any Archimedean position, and that is its anarchism of method: not Against the Day so much as Against Method. But 1,100 pages of antic surface is an awfully expensive way to pay for these pretty obvious splashings in skepticism." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.

Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they’re doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two.

According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

— Thomas Pynchon

Review:

"Knotty, paunchy, nutty, raunchy, Pynchon's first novel since Mason & Dixon(1997) reads like half a dozen books duking it out for his, and the reader's, attention. Most of them shine with a surreal incandescence, but even Pynchon fans may find their fealty tested now and again. Yet just when his recurring themes threaten to become tics, this perennial Nobel bridesmaid engineers another never-before-seen phrase, or effect, and all but the most churlish resistance collapses. It all begins in 1893, with an intrepid crew of young balloonists whose storybook adventures will bookend, interrupt and sometimes even be read by, scores of at least somewhat more realistic characters over the next 30 years. Chief among these figures are Colorado anarchist Webb Traverse and his children: Kit, a Yale- and Gttingen-educated mathematician; Frank, an engineer who joins the Mexican revolution; Reef, a cardsharp turned outlaw bomber who lands in a perversely tender mnage trois; and daughter Lake, another Pynchon heroine with a weakness for the absolute wrong man. Psychological truth keeps pace with phantasmagorical invention throughout. In a Belgian interlude recalling Pynchon's incomparable Gravity's Rainbow, a refugee from the future conjures a horrific vision of the trench warfare to come: 'League on league of filth, corpses by the uncounted thousands.' This, scant pages after Kit nearly drowns in mayonnaise at the Regional Mayonnaise Works in West Flanders. Behind it all, linking these tonally divergent subplots and the book's cavalcade of characters, is a shared premonition of the blood-drenched doomsday just about to break above their heads. Ever sympathetic to the weak over the strong, the comradely over the combine (and ever wary of false dichotomies), Pynchon's own aesthetic sometimes works against him. Despite himself, he'll reach for the portentous dream sequence, the exquisitely stage-managed weather, some perhaps not entirely digested historical research, the 'invisible,' the 'unmappable' — when just as often it's the overlooked detail, the 'scrawl of scarlet creeper on a bone-white wall,' a bed partner's 'full rangy nakedness and glow' that leaves a reader gutshot with wonder. Now pushing 70, Pynchon remains the archpoet of death from above, comedy from below and sex from all sides. His new book will be bought and unread by the easily discouraged, read and reread by the cult of the difficult. True, beneath the book's jacket lurks the clamor of several novels clawing to get out. But that rushing you hear is the sound of the world, every banana peel and dynamite stick of it, trying to crowd its way in, and succeeding." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"News of an upcoming Pynchon novel has the same effect on the literati that an unscheduled return of Halley's comet would have on astronomers. The Internet started humming with rumors last June, and, after five months of anticipation, the mammoth volume has arrived and is everything a Pynchon fan could hope for. 'Against the Day' is his longest novel, his most international in scope — from the mountains... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[G]loriously fizzy....[A] novelist who keeps things moving. If you don't dig the anti-capitalist screeds or get hooked on Kit's revenge, no worries — a few pages later you might enjoy the concept of Anarchist Golf... (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"[A] grand Wellsian fantasia...a powerful act of imagination....Brilliant if sometimes exasperating, Pynchon's latest is highly recommended...with the warning that it does not yield easy pleasures and should not be read on deadline." Library Journal

Review:

"There are some dazzling set pieces evoking the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a convocation of airship aficionados, but these passages are sandwiched between reams and reams of pointless, self-indulgent vamping that read like Exhibit A in what can only be called a case of the Emperor's New Clothes." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"Although clearly this book was written without the forced-march pace of its reviewers in mind...I'm willing to grant Pynchon the benefit of the doubt. A book this long that amazes even 50% of the time is amazing, and I suspect Pynchon would be the first to suggest we skip the boring parts." Christopher Sorrentino, The Los Angeles Times

Review:

"It is brilliant. It is oblique, and in some ways obtuse. Very few people will finish it. I read the whole thing in a few days, which is not an experience to be recommended." Newsday

Review:

"It's as much genre-bending as mind-bending....And, who knows — ask any actuary, 70 isn't that old anymore — maybe another Pynchon novel? If one comes, let it be as rich and sweeping, wild and thrilling, as this one." The Boston Globe

Review:

"You want goofy names, kooky groups, multi-claused, roller-coaster, Nabokovian sentences, pop-culture sarcasm, abstruse intellectual arabesques, 10-dollar words, inside jokes, fey attributions, self-parodying guides to interpretation — buy Against the Day." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"[O]verstuffed with wonders....I remember more about the effort than the scenery I passed along the way." Bloomberg

Review:

"[S]logging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel...it's hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better." Laura Miller, Salon

Review:

"To read this book with anything like comprehension, a person has to be, like its polymath author, both intellectual and hip, a person mature and profoundly well read and yet something of a true marginal, a word-nerd with the patience of Job." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"It's raunchy, funny, digressive, brilliant, exasperating, and defies a simple summary." USA Today

Review:

"Whether or not Pynchon writes future novels, Against the Day can be seen as his Brothers Karamazov. It ties up the loose ends of his career and shows that his past successes were not a fluke." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)

Synopsis:

Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them. Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

-Thomas Pynchon

Synopsis:

The inimitable Thomas Pynchon has done it again. Hailed as "a major work of art" by The Wall Street Journal, his first novel in almost ten years spans the era between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I and moves among locations across the globe (and to a few places not strictly speaking on the map at all). With a phantasmagoria of characters and a kaleidoscopic plot, Against the Day confronts a world of impending disaster, unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places and still manages to be hilarious, moving, profound, and so much more.

About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, and, most recently, Mason and Dixon. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

thebeadsman, January 28, 2010 (view all comments by thebeadsman)
A seminal work of multiversal depth, breadth, height, and heft that brings together past, present and future worlds and gives one last free-gift chance to every reader, even an American, even this late in history, to be a real human being.

Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
queequeg, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by queequeg)
A profound meditation and a rip-snorting tale, "Against the Day" has moments of great humor and some of the most beautiful writing of this or any other century.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Ken Jones, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by Ken Jones)
As a Pynchon fanatic, I thought he'd never again reach the heights of Gravity's Rainbow, which is one of the great books of all time. But Against the Day was a real treat. It took about 100 pages or so to get hooked and then I never wanted it to end. It seemed almost a summation of Pynchon's career, with loving references to his previous novels, short fiction, themes, and characters. And it was a step towards his further mastery of writing that's lyrical, funny, sweet, terrifying, weird, and wise.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 7 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594201202
Author:
Pynchon, Thomas
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Read by:
Hill, Dick
Read:
Hill, Dick
Author:
on, Thomas
Author:
Pynch
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Forecasting
Subject:
Disasters
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Experimental fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
November 21, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
1120
Dimensions:
9.53 x 6.4 x 2.1 in 3.35 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2007
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Against the Day: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 1120 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594201202 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Against the Day switches as smoothly from Tom Swift-style "boys adventure" to a Gothic prairie tale in the vein of Cormac McCarthy, as it does from reverence for historical figures and events to explosive iconoclasm. Its world is filled with dirigibles, barely perceptible anachronisms, photography chemicals, and ridiculously subtle puns. Nobody does Pynchon quite like Pynchon.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Knotty, paunchy, nutty, raunchy, Pynchon's first novel since Mason & Dixon(1997) reads like half a dozen books duking it out for his, and the reader's, attention. Most of them shine with a surreal incandescence, but even Pynchon fans may find their fealty tested now and again. Yet just when his recurring themes threaten to become tics, this perennial Nobel bridesmaid engineers another never-before-seen phrase, or effect, and all but the most churlish resistance collapses. It all begins in 1893, with an intrepid crew of young balloonists whose storybook adventures will bookend, interrupt and sometimes even be read by, scores of at least somewhat more realistic characters over the next 30 years. Chief among these figures are Colorado anarchist Webb Traverse and his children: Kit, a Yale- and Gttingen-educated mathematician; Frank, an engineer who joins the Mexican revolution; Reef, a cardsharp turned outlaw bomber who lands in a perversely tender mnage trois; and daughter Lake, another Pynchon heroine with a weakness for the absolute wrong man. Psychological truth keeps pace with phantasmagorical invention throughout. In a Belgian interlude recalling Pynchon's incomparable Gravity's Rainbow, a refugee from the future conjures a horrific vision of the trench warfare to come: 'League on league of filth, corpses by the uncounted thousands.' This, scant pages after Kit nearly drowns in mayonnaise at the Regional Mayonnaise Works in West Flanders. Behind it all, linking these tonally divergent subplots and the book's cavalcade of characters, is a shared premonition of the blood-drenched doomsday just about to break above their heads. Ever sympathetic to the weak over the strong, the comradely over the combine (and ever wary of false dichotomies), Pynchon's own aesthetic sometimes works against him. Despite himself, he'll reach for the portentous dream sequence, the exquisitely stage-managed weather, some perhaps not entirely digested historical research, the 'invisible,' the 'unmappable' — when just as often it's the overlooked detail, the 'scrawl of scarlet creeper on a bone-white wall,' a bed partner's 'full rangy nakedness and glow' that leaves a reader gutshot with wonder. Now pushing 70, Pynchon remains the archpoet of death from above, comedy from below and sex from all sides. His new book will be bought and unread by the easily discouraged, read and reread by the cult of the difficult. True, beneath the book's jacket lurks the clamor of several novels clawing to get out. But that rushing you hear is the sound of the world, every banana peel and dynamite stick of it, trying to crowd its way in, and succeeding." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Pynchon's works are prodigies: they do everything but move us. But they certainly are prodigious....Pynchon is easy to like politically; but this book's will-to-nullification is deeply frustrating....This novel systematically denies the reader any purchase, any Archimedean position, and that is its anarchism of method: not Against the Day so much as Against Method. But 1,100 pages of antic surface is an awfully expensive way to pay for these pretty obvious splashings in skepticism." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[G]loriously fizzy....[A] novelist who keeps things moving. If you don't dig the anti-capitalist screeds or get hooked on Kit's revenge, no worries — a few pages later you might enjoy the concept of Anarchist Golf... (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "[A] grand Wellsian fantasia...a powerful act of imagination....Brilliant if sometimes exasperating, Pynchon's latest is highly recommended...with the warning that it does not yield easy pleasures and should not be read on deadline."
"Review" by , "There are some dazzling set pieces evoking the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a convocation of airship aficionados, but these passages are sandwiched between reams and reams of pointless, self-indulgent vamping that read like Exhibit A in what can only be called a case of the Emperor's New Clothes."
"Review" by , "Although clearly this book was written without the forced-march pace of its reviewers in mind...I'm willing to grant Pynchon the benefit of the doubt. A book this long that amazes even 50% of the time is amazing, and I suspect Pynchon would be the first to suggest we skip the boring parts."
"Review" by , "It is brilliant. It is oblique, and in some ways obtuse. Very few people will finish it. I read the whole thing in a few days, which is not an experience to be recommended."
"Review" by , "It's as much genre-bending as mind-bending....And, who knows — ask any actuary, 70 isn't that old anymore — maybe another Pynchon novel? If one comes, let it be as rich and sweeping, wild and thrilling, as this one."
"Review" by , "You want goofy names, kooky groups, multi-claused, roller-coaster, Nabokovian sentences, pop-culture sarcasm, abstruse intellectual arabesques, 10-dollar words, inside jokes, fey attributions, self-parodying guides to interpretation — buy Against the Day."
"Review" by , "[O]verstuffed with wonders....I remember more about the effort than the scenery I passed along the way."
"Review" by , "[S]logging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel...it's hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better."
"Review" by , "To read this book with anything like comprehension, a person has to be, like its polymath author, both intellectual and hip, a person mature and profoundly well read and yet something of a true marginal, a word-nerd with the patience of Job."
"Review" by , "It's raunchy, funny, digressive, brilliant, exasperating, and defies a simple summary."
"Review" by , "Whether or not Pynchon writes future novels, Against the Day can be seen as his Brothers Karamazov. It ties up the loose ends of his career and shows that his past successes were not a fluke."
"Synopsis" by ,
Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them. Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

-Thomas Pynchon

"Synopsis" by ,
The inimitable Thomas Pynchon has done it again. Hailed as "a major work of art" by The Wall Street Journal, his first novel in almost ten years spans the era between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I and moves among locations across the globe (and to a few places not strictly speaking on the map at all). With a phantasmagoria of characters and a kaleidoscopic plot, Against the Day confronts a world of impending disaster, unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places and still manages to be hilarious, moving, profound, and so much more.

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