Book Reports from an English Major, Issue the First

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What started as a playful tete-a-tete on Twitter has become the next obvious choice for my posts here: Book Reports from an English Major. Don’t worry, I won’t subject you to 1500 word analyses. Consider this culture, boiled down for cocktail parties, or whatever non-alcoholic equivalent strikes your fancy. I’ll hit you with a 2 for 1 special each issue. Let’s strike up the band.

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon. Read during January 2010.

Often considered the earliest post-modernist author, Thomas Pynchon’s first novel length offering follows Oedipa Mas as she tries to unravel the mystery of the Tristero system, which is either an antiquated postal delivery system or a massive counter-cultural system linking all the marginalized dropouts from societies around the globe. What is revealed, piece by piece, is the collection of underground systems operating right under our noses here in America, outside the pale of the mainstream, daylight world. You know what else? None of it means anything. Or maybe it means everything. Either way, Oedipa won’t ever find out, and by the end of the book, neither will you. Funny, maddening and maybe a little paranoid. Recommended if you like conspiracy theories, drugs, and one-night stands related to the aforementioned. Not for the easily offended.

White Noise, Don DeLillo. Read late January/early February 2010.

If you like your post-modernism from an affable, ineffectual father who happens to head the Hitler studies program at College on the Hill in Blacksmith (KS? NE?) then DeLillo’s White Noise is up your alley. Jack Gladney is afraid of death. So is his wife. Their kids are smarter than they are. An emergency response unit works only on simulations, not REAL emergencies. An asylum burning and watching disasters on TV are entertainments in this book. You know that crappy band you like, Airborne Toxic Event? They got their name from the middle section of this book.

You know what? You can bypass this book altogether. Recommended if you have irrational fears about things you can’t control, like death. Not for people that want to spend their time reading something they like.