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Print Fiction August 26, 2004
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Thomas Pynchon
The Crying of Lot 49
1966

Regarded as Pynchon's most accessible work, The Crying of Lot 49 still manages to achieve a critical density. This short, comic novel offers the usual Pynchonian tapestry of paranoia, entropy, and quantum mechanics. Oedipa Maas, assigned the task of executing her former lover's will, careens around the West Coast, chasing down clues in hopes of unlocking the mystery of "Tristero." Is it a massive conspiracy involving everyone from the Pope to the postman, or just a massive put-on? In the end, the journey is more enlivening than the destination, yet Pynchon's humorous take on American culture is well worth the occasional bouts of befuddlement that accompany his manic prose.


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