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  Wikipedia: Thomas Pynchon

Wikipedia: Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist, noted for his seemingly-absurd but thoroughly erudite works.


He was born in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York to Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Sr and Katherine Frances Bennett Pynchon.

Pynchon graduated from Oyster Bay High School in 1953. He attended the Engineering Physics division at Cornell University, but left at the end of his second year to join the US Navy. He returned to Cornell in 1957 to pursue a degree in English. His first short story, "A Small Rain", was published in the Cornell Writer in May, 1959. He received his BA in June, 1959.

After graduation he began work on his first novel. During this time, from February 1960 to September 1962 he worked as an engineering aide at Boeing, writing technical documents for the Bomarc Service Information Unit and the Field Support Unit for the Minuteman missile project, both nuclear missile projects. V was published in 1963 and won a William Faulkner Foundation Award for best first novel of the year.

Around the publication of his third novel, Gravity's Rainbow in 1973, Pynchon became notorious for his avoidance of public view, and many rumors circulated about his identity. Only a few photos of him are known to exist. Shortly before the publication of Mason & Dixon in 1997, he was tracked down and filmed by CNN. Angered by this invasion of his privacy, he agreed to give CNN an interview in exchange for not revealing his photographs. When asked about his reclusive nature, he replied, "My belief is that 'recluse' is a code word generated by journalists... meaning, 'doesn't like to talk to reporters.'"

Pynchon received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.

Literary critic Harold Bloom has named him as one of the four major American novelists of his time, along with Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, and Cormac McCarthy.

Pynchon lives in Manhattan, New York City with his wife and agent, Melanie Jackson, and their son, Jackson Pynchon. He is known to be a fan of Roky Erickson.


Pynchon is sometimes assumed to be identical to a certain Wanda Tinasky, who wrote several letters in the late 1980s that were published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser in Anderson Valley, California. The style and content of these letters closely resemble Pynchon's. A collection of these letters are printed as a paperback book named The Letters of Wanda Tinasky, however Pynchon himself denies having written the letters.

It has been rumored that Pynchon's next book will be about the life and love stories of Sofia Kovalevskaya, which he allegedly studied in Germany. The origin of this rumor is the German minister of culture who claimed he had helped Pynchon out. (Mentioned several times at the Pynchon-L mailing list.) It has been noted that Kovalevsky's nom de plume "Tanya Raevsky" is suspiciously similar to "Wanda Tinasky".


Pynchonmania: Thomas Pynchon is guest-"star" in an episode of the Simpsons: "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife". He plays himself wearing a paper bag over his head, but lends his voice.

The paper bag is a reference to the Simpsons episode: "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" where Homor starts a website where he is shown wearing a bag marked with a question mark over his head. He uncovers a complex global conspiracy and earns a Pulitzer Prize and also captured by the conspiracy and imprisoned on an island.


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