It’s been some time since I’ve hated a book with a passion like I did The Crying of Lot 49. Warning: some ramblings ahead.
It was a book club read and I wanted to start this about two weeks before the book club, because I wanted the book to be still fresh in my mind and it was only 150 pages or so. It went wrong immediately at the first pages. A sentence should not be half a page! (I immediately felt bad for complaining about the lack of full stops in Call Me By Your Name, because it was much worse here) I felt it was pretentious and a lot of words without actually saying something. Even just looking at the style, I disliked it because it was repeating words frequently so you got because, because, because, etc. This was clearly not something to read just before sleep, because I was dozing of after the first page.
The next evening I pick it up at an earlier time and I am “treated” to a misogynistic, ridiculous sex-scene. This put me off the book for another week.
And then it is the evening before book club and I am only 20% in and I don’t want to read it, but I do want to read it as well so that I can at least base my opinion on the entire book. I had to watch a kid’s movie before I felt like reading it again. And I finished about 2h before the book club – so mission accomplished, but sadly my opinions of the book didn’t improve a lot.
I recognize it was written in the 1960s, but I thought it had aged very badly like a wine that has gone off. Thomas Pynchon writes a female character, Oedipa, but to me it is unclear if he ever met one in real life. She has no personality whatsoever, exists only in her relationship with the male characters in the novel and at some point exclaims (when said male characters have left her) that she doesn’t know what to do now. She’s on this sort of quest with which she is obsessed, but why she doesn’t just walk away from it is anyone’s guess. At this point, you might have guessed it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.
The mystery of the secret underground mail is mildly interesting, as was the ending which might break everything down, but there was just not enough substance and character to keep it all together. The best things about it – it was only 150 pages and I now know I never need to touch anything by Pynchon again in my life.
The main critique on the previous book in book club was that Recursion was too plot-focused and had too little character development. Unfortunately, there was zero character (development) here and the plot was also lacking, so it was indefinitely worse.
Surprise: would not recommend.
The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon