Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Pynchon and P.O.P.

This morning I still haven't found the courage/knowhow/time to riposte to Toibin. (Misspelt in the last post, editors turning in their paper nests) so a little ramble instead.

One of the joys of leaving University was the idea that I would finally be allowed to read whatever I liked, whenever I liked. Then I came here and the dream shattered into many different pages of submissions, proofs, my own translation side projects and the Sisyphean attempt to get to know our entire backlist. So when I say that because it was my holiday I decided to try to read two books by Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow and Against the Day, simultaneously, it’s probably time for someone to take me gently by the hand and lead me blinking back out into the light.

So far though, it’s been a lot of fun – I have started to eye people suspiciously on tube and look to the sky half expecting to see a V2 rocket or airship hurtling towards me. Not many writers can touch him now, or even, I’d go so far to say, ever. but it raised a interesting question: What would one do if Gravity’s Rainbow landed on their submissions desk today? A gigantic wodge (sp?) of script, with the slight whiff of paranoia. Of course the length would have been a problem immediately for small pubs like us. Believe it or not the cost of paper is the major cost of a print run – the shorter the run the less economies of scale and our print runs are never very big anyway. The question is not quite fair as Pynchon’s first published novel was the very manageable Crying of Lot 49 – also much less oblique.

I’d like to think that we would have grabbed the script with both hands, my justification for this statement being that the office is people with pynchon fans and that for many years now we have championed the work of Peter Vansittart – a writer who I think has an affinity with Pynchon, the style and historical scope of his writing, indeed, I’d say that anyone who enjoyed Gravity’s Rainbow would also enjoy Vansittart’s latest, Secret Protocols.


But then, I am rather biased . . .


dan visel said...

V. (around 500 pages) was Pynchon's first published novel, not Crying of Lot 49.

PeterOwenPublishers said...

Oh dear, how embarrassing. You are right, of course. This not only opens up my whole inner debate (I still think that 500 pp notwithstanding we'd have gone with it) but explains an number of illegible tutor's notes from on my Pynchon essay at uni. and partly why that essay didn't get the mark I thought it deserved. Thank you, Mr Visel.