Thomas Pynchon

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Pynchon, Thomas

(pĭn`chən), 1937–, American novelist, b. Glen Cove, N.Y., grad. Cornell, 1958. Pynchon is noted for his amazingly fertile imagination, his wild sense of humor, and the teeming complexity of his novels. He is sometimes grouped with authors of black humorblack humor,
in literature, drama, and film, grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox, and cruelty of the modern world. Ordinary characters or situations are usually exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony.
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 (such as Kurt VonnegutVonnegut, Kurt, Jr.
1922–2007, American novelist, b. Indianapolis. After serving in World War II, he worked as a police reporter and wrote short stories for mainstream and science-fiction magazines, work the contributed to the development of the distinctive voice and wry
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 and Joseph HellerHeller, Joseph,
1923–99, American writer, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Heller is best known for his first novel, Catch-22 (1961). Set in World War II, it is a darkly humorous commentary on the illogic of war and bureaucracy.
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), who turned from realism to fantasy to depict 20th-century (and, in Pynchon's case, 21st-century) American life. His early novels include V. (1963) and The Crying of Lot 49 (1966). His masterpiece is the complex and often obscure Gravity's Rainbow (1973, National Book Award), which displays his diverse erudition. Set in London during World War II, it is a discursive rumination on war and death. In 1984, he published a collection of early writings, Slow Learner. His later novels are Vineland (1990), the witty and encyclopedic Mason & Dixon (1997), the sprawling Against the Day (2006), the psychedelic 1970s sleuth tale Inherent Vice (2009), and the wild, 21st-century New York investigative saga Bleeding Edge (2013).


See studies by T. Tanner (1982), P. L. Cooper (1983), D. Seed (1988), S. C. Weisenburger (1988), J. Dugdale (1990), A. McHoul and D. Wills (1990), J. W. Slade (1990), J. Chambers (1992), H. Berressem (1993), A. W. Brownlie (2000), A. Mangen and R. Gaasland, ed. (2002), N. Abbas, ed. (2003), H. Bloom, ed. (2003), and D. Cowart (1980 and 2012); I. H. Dalsgaard et al., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon (2012).

Pynchon, Thomas (Ruggles, Jr.)

(1937–  ) writer; born in Glen Cove, N.Y. He studied at Cornell (B.A. 1958), lived in Greenwich Village for a year, and worked on the house publication of Boeing Aircraft (Seattle, Wash.). He moved to Mexico while finishing his first novel, V. (1963), and later settled in California. An intensely private writer, he refused to be interviewed or photographed. He is best known for his novel, Gravity's Rainbow (1973), an ingenious examination of language and an attempt to organize the ideas and systems of modern life. A collection of short stories, Slow Learner (1984), has also been published.