PARADISE FLUBBED: Pynchon & the New World Essay

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PARADISE FLUBBED: Pynchon & the New World

When, in Gravity's Rainbow, "A screaming comes across the sky," it is the sound of a V-2 rocket arcing up and over the English Channel.But the rocket's vapor trail (which Pirate Prentice sees from kneedeep in the primordial mulch of his bananararium) points further on: over the Atlantic, on toward America, the New World, Tyrone Slothrop's "yearned-for, perhaps illusory home."

The rocket's path ends a fraction of an inch above the reader's head, the rocket suspended, poised ... A tableau representing the possibile if not quite realized Apocalypse.In his first novel, V., Pynchon explored the death-worshipping mania, the will-to-the-inorganic hubris, the sheer Gotterdamerüng gaga-ness of a
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However, Gravity's Rainbow (1973), turns away from America of the 1970's to Europe of the 1940's, as if Pynchon himself were stuck on lot 48 and hadn't yet figured out What Came Next for the New World.

Rather than rockets, Vineland opens with carrier pigeons (coming from the east, from Europe?), and blue jays (screaming, nest-stealing birds)--and messages: gone too late to be read, perhaps ever to be understood.

"Too late, too late" runs like the background hum of an amplifier throughout the opening of this novel.For instance, Desmond, the familly dog, rises later than usual to chase blue jays away from his food; and his master, Zoyd Wheeler--part-time carpenter and unreclaimed hippie--is late for his appointment with a plate glass window, through which he must jump each year to keep his government disability checks coming.Zoyd is a resident of Vineland, a refuge tucked in the northern California woodlands, where once the only industry was logging, the only inhabitants were early 20th Century remnants of American frontiersmen, and the only cause for concern was running out of timber."Vineland the Good" Zoyd calls it.

Vineland.And then perhaps we think Vinland--the first name given to this continent by the Vikings.The primeval evergreen forests of the

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