Hemingway died one day and Pynchon was born the next (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.

Don DeLillo on Thomas Pynchon. From the Summer 2005 issue of Bookforum.

3 thoughts on “Hemingway died one day and Pynchon was born the next (DeLillo on Pynchon)”

    1. …so you are saying that when you read Old Man and the Sea that you are not constantly reminded of Gravity’s Rainbow? Cause, I… okay, I’m not either. But I think DeLillo’s talking about a cultural coin-flip at that moment in time, with the suddenly Faceless Head coming into being just as Hemingway’s very public persona so publicly leaves us. And like with all things American, that coin is a carny coin. Or a priceless token the trick of which the carny can only get the meanest glimpse? Or, I don’t know what I’m saying.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Let’s just not forget the gentleman who ran nude across the National Book Award stage as Harlan Ellison tried not to laugh after the award for “Gravity’s Rainbow” was presented. This is the most humorous escapade of “Gravity’s Rainbow” real-world ventures, but often over-looked.

    Anyways, DeLillo is obviously pointing out the dramatic shift in American literature from Hemingway to Pynchon: Night and Day.


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