Monday, 10 August 2009

My nightly vice (is inherent, and made of Pynchon). It took three pages, but then he made it, and it was good (enough for government work): He walked her down the hill to where she was parked. Weeknights out here weren't too different from weekends, so this part of town was already all ahoot with funseekers, drinkers and surfers screaming in the alleys, dopers out on food errands, flatland guys in for a night of hustling stewardesses, flatland ladies with all-too-grounded day jobs hoping to be mistaken for stewardesses. Uphill and invisible, traffic out on the boulevard to and from the freeway uttered tuneful exhaust phrases which went echoing out to sea, where the crews of oil tankers sliding along, hearing them, could have figured it for wildlife taking care of nighttime business on an exotic coast. (4) Of course, I have suggestions about how to make this more Pynchonian—paragraph break before "[u]phill and invisibile"; eliminate the comma after "out to seas"; remove the indefinite article before and pluralize "exotic coast"—but for the most part, this is pure unforced transport, unlike Against the Day, which felt like Pynchon doing his damnedest Pynchon after having forgotten that he was, in fact, himself and could don the pig-suit and write: Under a cold umbrella of naked light bulbs are gathered a crowd of Army personnel, American sailors, NAAFI girls, and German frauleins. Fraternizing, every last one of them, shamefully, amid noise which becomes, as Muffage and Spontoon reach the edge of the gathering, a song, at whose center, with a good snootful, each arm circling a smiling and disheveled young tootsie, ruddy face under these lights gone an apopletic mauve, and leading the glee, is the same General Wivern they last saw in Pointsman's office back at Twelfth House. From a tank car whose contents, ethanol, 75% solution, are announced in stark white stenciling along the side, spigots protrude here and there, under which an incredible number of mess cups, china mugs, coffeepots, wastebaskets, and other containers are being advanced and withdrawn. Ukuleles, kazoos, harmonicas, and any number of makeshift metal noisemakers accompany the song, which is an innocent salute to Postwar, a hope that the end of shortages, the end of Austerity, is near[.] (593) If I can find the time, tomorrow I'll explain the power of that "[u]phill and invisible" and describe the telescopic glory of the prose of those who fiddle with the dials, zooming in and out in an anti-willy-nilly, but who don't, as I do, sound like bad imitations of the Beats when they do it.

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