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V. (1963)

by Thomas Pynchon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,688331,810 (4.05)125
The wild, macabre tale of the twentieth century and of two men -- one looking for something he has lost, the other with nothing much to lose -- and "V.," the unknown woman of the title.
  1. 00
    Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell (WSB7)
    WSB7: For a treatment of, among other things, political intrigue in a Mediterranean area state circa WWII, but handled from a modernist vs. a postmodernist perspective.
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» See also 125 mentions

English (27)  French (4)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Second read: I've come to realisation that this may be one of the greatest books I've read, especially first novels by an author. If you haven't attempted this yet, you're a shlemiel. ( )
  jaydenmccomiskie | Sep 27, 2021 |
He is of course a genius. This was published when he was TWENTY-SIX !! ( )
  lehrer21 | Jun 29, 2021 |
As Yogi Berra sort of said: “When you come to a V. in the road, take it!”

So I did.

But I wish Thomas Pynchon had found a way not to take any fork leading to the soporific Stencil, no matter which character so named paraded into view. Focus on Pig Bodine! Let McClintic Sphere preside! It’d be a different book and maybe a worse one, I guess, if my wishes had been anticipated and fulfilled. I don’t care.

That’s my only big complaint.

Mr. Pynchon is funny, imaginative, and knows way more than the average Yogi (be prepared to encounter obscurities). There’s much to hold one’s interest while reading his novel and V. inspires respect for the author’s abilities. It also can strain one’s patience. How many named characters are there, 200? How many of them mattered?

V. is a curious book that becomes curiouser as things go along. Then, it ends. Don’t count on finding full satisfaction in that. But for the right reader (one whom Stencil interests), V. might be a marvel. ( )
2 vote dypaloh | Aug 16, 2017 |
6. V.by Thomas Pynchon
published: 1963
format: 534 page Kindle e-book
acquired: Dec 25, 2015
listened: Dec 31 - Feb 11
Rating: 4½ stars

I know I should take more time and write out a more careful, and more thought-out review, one that actually captures all aspects of the book, but this just kind of poured out. And these moods are temporary things. So, posting as is - flaws and all.

I spent last night thinking about this book when I should have been sleeping. That's a far cry from where I was a few weeks ago, lost in Cairo and ready to toss the e-book...and where I was again in Florence. Namibia in 1922 was terribly disturbing, but I had to respect the effort. Malta was a bit slow too, in WWII, but had it's appeal. But Pynchon certainly never lost me for a second in Paris and when he got back to Malta again, I was fully engaged.

What the hell am I talking about, you might ask, if you haven't read this. (And probably you haven't ??) The real appeal for most of this book for me was Benny Profane, who lived a life on equal with his wonderful name. Just out of the Navy, he spent 1956 in the Virginia naval world and in the New York City underworld, until he graduated to the Whole Sick Crew, a crowd of very hippie-like eccentric, entertaining and generally useless souls (and also Rachel). The other leg of the V-ish plot includes the travelogue above and tried every which way to shake me off the book. Herbert Stencil searches for V., a woman of his father's generation, but also many other undefined and generally unobtainable mysteries. He takes us through the travelogue above by recreating other peoples stories of V. Pynchon just tries too hard in the early parts of these sections. It feels like he's showing off and it's very hard to take him seriously or care. But it pays out in the end. Eventually I not only adored the tragic lady V. but then sat wondering about all the different variations that V might be. I'm still wondering, even as I know there is no answer...I hope there is no answer.

So a gem of sorts comes out of this sometimes charming, sometimes just all too smart tangled mess.

V, by the way, could be Valletta, Malta, or Vesuvius, or many other things, but notably also a V2 rocket, which connects this book firmly with Gravity's Rainbow (which I haven't read. This is my first book by Pynchon). The rocket gets one very subtle mention. But I took it and ran. My head thinks Pynchon is, in 1963 and before, fretting about the modern world and all its destructive technology, with V2 rocket standing in for a nuclear missile. Profane yo-yo's, but he frets everything inanimate and V gets progressively more and more inanimate herself as she loses an eye and a few limbs. Humans are building and building and killing everything and Pynchon is trying to make sense of it. But it's not that simple. So he has V and we wonder. Mind you, my head could be a bit high on some Benny (a slang term for Benzedrine, an amphetamine).

2016
https://www.librarything.com/topic/209547#5471203 ( )
4 vote dchaikin | Feb 12, 2016 |
Kindred's Reading Challenge: #15 A book by Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Pynchonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Almansi, GuidoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Øverås, LinnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danzas, MinnieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fujita, S. NeilCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grigorʹeva, GlebaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jelinek, ElfriedeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Khanina, Aleksei︠a︡Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kim, Sang-guTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martín Ramírez, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Natale, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Penberthy, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stössel, DietrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teichmann, WulfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Christmas Eve, 1955, Benny Profane, wearing black Levi's, suede jacket, sneakers and big cowboy hat, happened to pass through Norfolk, Virginia.
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The wild, macabre tale of the twentieth century and of two men -- one looking for something he has lost, the other with nothing much to lose -- and "V.," the unknown woman of the title.

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