Tonight I finished Mason & Dixon. It was a big fat book that like many big fat books was tedious at first. Moreso because it’s set in the 18th century and features two men measuring out a line. But once you get past all the Dutch stuff, which is necessary to really set up the strangeness that is America, the book gets good. Then you get infinitely fast mechanical ducks and talking dogs and the Chinese feng shui master on the run from Jesuits. There are some chapters that were dull but every chapter had at least a bit of good stuff. Much like Gravity’s Rainbow in that way.
My favourite Pynchon book is still V though. It balanced the incomprehensible with the cool, and the story was chunkified enough that it didn’t feel like you had an endless jungle to hack through when you hit the tough parts.
I’ve been reading this off and on all summer, though the biggest portion got done on the bus rides to and from Calgary. My friend’s husband hadn’t known anyone who finished it (he’s an English PhD guy who knows major Pynchon fans, so that’s a bit more significant than oh say my mom not knowing anyone who’d finished it) so I’m giving myself a pat on the back for getting through. May not be an academic but I can still read with the best of them.