November 16, 2006

"The shelves and bench-tops were crowded with volt-ammeters, rheostats, transformers, arc lamps whole and in pieces..."

"... half-used carbons, calcium burners, Oxone tablets, high-tension magnetos, alternators store-bought and home-made, vibrator coils, cut-outs and interruptors, worm drives, Nicol prisms, generating valves, glassblowing torches, Navy surplus Thalofide cells, brand-new Aeolight tubes freshly fallen from the delivery truck, British Blattnerphone components and tons of other stuff Chick had never recalled seeing before."

Either you're the sort of person who yearns to read 1000+ pages of that sort of thing or you're not. (Via A&L Daily.)

IN THE COMMENTS: George points to a grand literary tradition of listing. That makes me think of the not-so-grand pop culture list craze. There's a nice take on that here (with a comment by me somewhere in there). And don't forget 1977's "Book of Lists," a page of which I scanned the other day and -- given the new timeliness -- feel like posting again:

A page from

(Click here to enlarge.)

13 comments:

Revenant said...

Does Pynchon use that device a lot? I find that those sorts of lists, used sparingly, can really help with visualization, but if an author overuses them then reading becomes a chore.

word verification: gytfiyku. Oh yeah? Well gytfiyk you too, buddy.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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George said...

There's a great literary tradition of listing...The Ithaca section of Ulysses...the whaling minutiae in Moby Dick...Gargantua and Pantagruel...The Ten Commandments....

Mortimer Brezny said...

A literary technique in service of a serious topic is one thing.

DeLillo and Roth and so forth overuse techniques. (Does Roth really need another doppelganger story? Could DeLillo write in unstilted English?) But they are serious authors dealing with serious topics.

The review accuses Pynchon of unseriousness. That's fatal.

Henry said...

There's a great literary tradition of listing...

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

* * *

Actually my first thought, reading that list, was "my goodness, that's my dad's basement!" All it needs are the white-painted shoeboxes labeled with black permanent marker that store the small stuff: sections of old inner tubes, a miscellany of glues, many small pieces of sandpaper, coils of solder and tins of paste flux...

Zeb Quinn said...

It's amusing that Elton John ranked as the #2 hero amongst the boys, right there between OJ and John Wayne.

Kirk Parker said...

Zeb,

You think that's amusing???? I say our doom was already settled back then, for anyone who could see it.

Anonymous said...

A list is a list is a list. Pynchon's list is rich with references to the competing technical and business components of early 20th Century Hollywood, no small source of our current World.

HaloJonesFan said...

Not only that, but Kissinger is on the list...for girls. Ewwwww...

James said...

I'm a little suprised that Simpson was so dominant as to be #1 on both lists. Was he really that head and shoulders above his contemporaries? Namath and Evert are the only other athletes on the list; I'm surprised Simpson was so much more popular than, for example, Hank Aaron (who had broken Babe Ruth's record just two years earlier) or Pete Rose (who also turned out to have feet of clay, albeit to a much lesser extent) or Fran Tarkenton or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

James Kabala

Franz Kraus said...

There's a great literary tradition of listing...
Along came Poly
Greetz Franz