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February 07 , 2011

Pynchon's California


Pynchon’s California is the first book to examine Thomas Pynchon’s use of California as a setting in his novels. Throughout his 50-year career, Pynchon has regularly returned to the Golden State in his fiction. With the publication in 2009 of his third novel set there, the significance of California in Pynchon’s evolving fictional project becomes increasingly worthy of study. Scott McClintock and John Miller have gathered essays from leading and up-and-coming Pynchon scholars who explore this topic from a variety of critical perspectives, reflecting the diversity and eclecticism of Pynchon’s fiction and of the state that has served as his recurring muse from The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) through Inherent Vice (2009).

Contributors explore such topics as the relationship of the “California novels” to Pynchon’s more historical and encyclopedic works; the significance of California's beaches, deserts, forests, freeways, and“hieroglyphic” suburban sprawl; the California-inspired noir tradition; and the surprising connections to be uncovered between drug use and realism, melodrama and real estate, private detection and the sacred. The authors bring insights to bear from an array of critical, social, and historical discourses, offering new ways of looking not only at Pynchon’s California novels, but at his entire oeuvre. They explore both how the history, geography, and culture of California have informed Pynchon’s work and how Pynchon’s ever-skeptical critical eye has been turned on the state that has been, in many ways, the flagship for postmodern American culture.
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