I chose The Crying Of Lot 49 because I wanted something a little different, and I definitely was not let down. Different is one way to describe the 140 or so pages during which I rarely knew what was actually happening. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think.
I just felt as if I was being led along a really strange journey, which was actually kind of refreshing and certainly kept me on my toes! This book is not an easy read with a predictable plot that you could easily dip in and out of, which is fairly characteristic for many of Pynchon’s works. You definitely need to pay at least some attention in order to understand how each of the bizarre characters fit into the narrative. However, even when you are paying attention they don’t exactly fit in, given that only a handful of characters are consistent throughout the narrative, with the rest seeming to simply make cameos at various point.
What I did really like was Pynchon’s weaving of cultural references into the plot and, while I didn’t necessarily understand them all, given that they are American and around 50 years old, it certainly made for a rich narrative. The book also reflects the effects that the increase in drug use at the time had on society, which further contributes to the weirdness (for lack of a better word) of the book. This meant that even if I didn’t always understand what was supposed to be happen, it was evident that Pynchon knew exactly. These cultural references, when combined with the odd characters, meant that the novella was also packed with humour.
However, the book isn’t simply a chaotic journey filled with a few humorous references, Thomas Pynchon’s intelligence is made very clear for its entirety. The fact that most character names are puns (such as Mike Fallopian or Dr. Hilarius), and the constant play on language throughout the narrative is just some evidence for this intelligence.
If you’re looking for a book that is perhaps a little out of your comfort zone, The Crying Of Lot 49 will certainly fit the brief. It is important to keep with it though, and to give it time- it is a short book, which means it isn’t impossible to stay focused on, even if you find your attention waning. I would recommend this book, not so much because I fell in love with the narrative, but I think Pynchon has an incredibly intelligent way of writing, and it was interesting to read something that was completely different to anything I had read in the past, or will probably read in the future.