May 27, 2005

the sprawl of high imagination

The summer issue of Bookforum has a great piece on Thomas Pynchon by Gerald Howard of Doubleday, with sidebar “appreciations” of Pynchon from Jeffrey Eugenides, Lorrie Moore, Richard Powers, George Saunders, Lydia Davis and Don DeLillo.  Here’s DeLillo on Pynchon…

It was as though, in some odd quantum stroke, Hemingway died one day and Pynchon was born the next. One literature bends into another. Pynchon has made American writing a broader and stronger force. He found whispers and apparitions at the edge of modern awareness but did not lessen our sense of the physicality of American prose, the shotgun vigor, the street humor, the body fluids, the put-on.

I was writing ads for Sears truck tires when a friend gave me a copy of V. in paperback. I read it and thought, Where did this come from?

The scale of his work, large in geography and unafraid of major subjects, helped us locate our fiction not only in small anonymous corners, human and ever-essential, but out there as well, in the sprawl of high imagination and collective dreams.

Bookforum’s online archive policy seems pretty liberal, so hopefully the piece will stick around for a while.  Nevertheless, if you’re a Pynchon fan, put this on your reading list for the weekend.  (Via Don DeLillo’s America.)