by Thomas Pynchon

After the brilliant -- yet period -- Mason & Dixon and the, well, let's just come out and say it, disappointing Vineland, Pynchon has returned with AGAINST THE DAY to a style which I consider to be his natural one: a joyful and exceptionally digressive exploration of high and low culture, perversity, mathematics, adventure and the limits of the human attention span; in short, that of Gravity's Rainbow.  An exciting development for fans of the too-profane-for-the-Pulitzer 1973 masterpiece.

This time, our setting lies mostly in the decades before WWI, a world (evidently) full of gypsies, anarchists, private detectives, photographers, quick guns, magicians, vector theorists, dynamiters, and (here with a flying dirigible full of loose narrative structure, more than we can carry folks, why don't you have some, dear reader, you do seem so pleasant) the Chums of Chance, an adventurous group of boys who travel the world in a flying ship, solving mysteries and rectifying wrongs, whose various explorations begin and indeed string together the novel. 
Of course, this is fine and unique literature, without easy comparison outside the author's own work.  For fans, this is a fantastic addition to the author's oeuvre and a fascinating read.  Pay careful attention -- the text is sprinkled with allusions to modern culture.  In one scene we watch a portion of Gilligan's Island, and in another, buried carefully in description and resulting in stifled, explosive LOLs, a character makes the now-iconic Star Trek handsign of peace and prosperity, wishing the same to another character.  

In the comparison it begs to Gravity's Rainbow, however, it seems, though much longer, a little lacking.  When your faithful reviewer read GR, he was spurred each time by the ending to begin the book again, and over a period of many months found nearly endless entertainment and comfort in this eternal textual return.  It could be the dissolution of the main character (in a geographic, narrative, as well as [arguably] literal sense) managed to create such a profound emptiness it spurs the reader to return to page one, where, poof! there he is again, corporeal by this time, almost, as one's neighbor or aunt.  Or, perhaps, simply the sparkle of the narrative.  AGAINST THE DAY, however, fails to inspire similar impulses.  One cannot say quite why.  If this is your kind of thing, set aside a month or three and settle in for some of the best modern fiction has to offer.  If you generally find Pynchon's style overwhelming, however, flee, and quickly -- for time-traveling dirigiblists will be hot on your heels..

 --Kenton deAngeli