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Monday, March 05, 2007

My 100th and Why Pynchon is so Hard...

This is my 100th post. I wish I had better things to discuss, but the truth of the matter is that I have had a terrible time trying to finish Pynchon. Right now, the last story "The Secret Integration" is possibly the most dense short story I have ever read (and that's counting all my graduate seminars on the Modern British authors). Thomas Pynchon is an enigma and his writing shows why. I have no doubt that they are filled with genius; perhaps that is the reason why I don't quite understand them. "The Secret Integration" is a story about a group of boys planning some operation. One of them, the leader, is the most intelligent of the bunch and carries most of the dialogue. One thing I do have to say about Pynchon: he can write a nice dialogue. I remember reading "The Crying of Lot 49" in graduate school and half-expected these stories to fill the gap of what I might have not understood in his previous works. I have failed at understanding the most basic premises of these short stories. Pynchon is candid in the introduction to the collection and relates how these stories were the efforts of a beginner and therefore (he deems) lack something. I doubt it is the stories or their structure that make them so difficult to read. Again, there's some genius in them that make them rather unapproachable. Here's someone's effort to decipher the story. I don't buy the explanation though.

It's been a difficult couple of weeks, hence my lack of posting. School has been busy with many papers and tests to grade. The students are fine, and we do have a good time in the classroom. I feel very tired when I get home but happy that I have given it all in the classroom. Let's see... right now we are reading "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" by Stephen Crane. It's a good example of Crane's most mature work, as his talent was considerably lacking in his early efforts (all the critics agree). "Maggie" is the story of a girl growing up in the Bowery section of New York at the turn of the century. She lives in a tenement. The extreme conditions of poverty, alcoholism, sweatshop work all lead Maggie into a life of prostitution by the end of the story. It is a sad examination at the cost of human life during the great migration at the end of the century. The girls are enjoying the read, but they feel it is kind of depressing. They are used to happy endings, I guess.

I have gotten some really good volumes lately but I doubt it I will be able to press them into my year list. I might adapt some of them as substitutions.

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At 2:23 PM, Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Happy 100th!!! The story does sound a bit depressing but such is life sometimes. You've taught them plenty of happy that they can go back to at some point but they'll be surprised at the impact unhappy will make on them.


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