Posts From Author: thomas pynchon

Redaction and Refraction in David Gilbert’s “& Sons”

“All told, or totaled, I would spend a week under A.N. Dyer’s roof, which is how I became a witness, the primary witness despite some feuding claims, to everything that happened.” So writes Philip Topping, the intrusive narrator of David Gilbert’s brilliant & Sons, near the start of the novel, which is due out in paperback from Random House on May 27. A.N. (Andrew) Dyer is an elderly, reclusive, New York-based writer in the vein of J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon. When we first see him, at the funeral of his lifelong friend — and Philip’s father — Charlie Topping, our narrator describes it as “one of those I-was-there moments”, a chance sighting of a rare bird, especially when the famous author stumbles over his eulogy. The majority of the novel’s action takes place in the week that follows the funeral. Philip, recently estranged from his wife, moves in with the Dyers (Andrew and his son Andy) just as the ageing patriarch summons his older children, Jamie and Richard, home from their voluntary exiles in Vermont and California. To make amends or for some darker purpose? Echoes of some of the great-slash-terrible Shakespearean fathers — notably Lear — abound as the plot […]
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Jay McInerney’s The Good Life

In a 2005 article for the Guardian entitled “The uses of invention”, Jay McInerney set out to counter the prevalent concern that literature was no longer up to the task, following 9/11, of processing world events. His contribution to the proof was The Good Life (2006), a novel set in the autumn of 2001 in the bedrooms of wealthy Manhattanites dealing with the aftermath of the destruction downtown. It was McInerney’s seventh novel and a sequel of sorts to 1992’s Brightness Falls. The book’s central insight is given to Luke McGavock around halfway through: “Personally is maybe the only perspective we have.” Like much of the fiction published since 9/11, McInerney’s novel is not principally about terrorism or the fall of the World Trade Center. Instead, it examines the effects of the attacks on individuals. His characters’ lives are all balanced somewhat precariously before September 11; the subject of the book becomes how such an epochal event can change perspectives in unforeseeable ways. Luke is something of an avatar for McInerney, who also spent the weeks following 9/11 working in a soup kitchen downtown, and he is occasionally blessed with an almost authorial clairvoyance. At a benefit at Central Park Zoo: The women were beautiful in their gowns, or at least glamorous […]
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