Thursday, April 15, 2010

#238. Against the Day


Switched up the template of the blog and updated the links again, this time spotlighting all four poetry cycles, my book, and two websites where I can be regularly found. Didn't I recently have myspace, facebook, and twitter info there, too? Well, I guess that doesn't matter as much. I started this process because Blogger promised me easy access to Amazon, but couldn't find that. Still can't. Don't know why...

Finished up Thomas Pynchon's fantastic Against the Day, which ended up being an inspired choice to follow-up Roberto Bolano's equally ambitious 2666. Against the Day concerns the fortunes of the Traverse clan during the years mostly falling between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and WWI, cleverly juxtaposing the frantic maneuvering of that age with our own, ambitions both stifled and explored in the face of massive change and upheaval, a world turned upside-down and hardly knowing what to do with itself. Oldest of the clan Frank becomes embroiled in the need to act as a surrogate patriarch after Webb Traverse is accused of being the day's most infamous anarchist and is summarily executed at the behest of tycoon Scarsdale Vibe. Reef is the one who takes up the charge of the father. Kit seeks to expand the family's fortunes. And Lake is the daughter left behind and with cruel irony, shack up with the man who pulled the trigger. Throughout the course of its 1,100 pages, the book makes you wonder what would happen if this family were around today. In many ways, our world is nothing like that one. In others, it's a wicked parallel. The anarchists of yesterday make a mockery of the terrorists we know today, rebelling against a growing stagnation rather than crudely reacting against it (perhaps, hence the title, "Against the Day"). Great men like Nikola Tesla are ignored in favor of capitalist progress, which does nothing to crush the innovative spirit that eventually sees emerging technology of yore surpass our wildest dreams in the darkest of corners...Anyway, this is a great book that truly needs to be discovered, from a master who should not be taken for granted, but there he is all the same, masked and anonymous...Pynchon is to novels as Grant Morrison is to comics, a pure imaginative spitfire who's difficult to appreciate but who is doing the most relevant and active work in literature today.

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