Pynchon -- Heard But Still Not Seen

By Stephen Lowman

"$27.95? Really? That used to be, like, three weeks of groceries, man. What year is this again?"

It's 2009 and the line comes from a promotional video created by Penguin Books to stir up excitement for Thomas Pynchon's latest novel, "Inherent Vice," set in 1960s L.A and available to purchase for, yes, $27.95.

Not that anticipation needed to be aroused. A new Pynchon work renews hopes of a sighting. Pynchon has done about all he could to nudge J.D. Salinger aside as the world's most reclusive author. For decades fans have been given little beyond rumors and wild speculation as to his whereabouts and personal life.

But that voice on trailer -- could it have been...?

The author's has been heard before. He voiced a cartoon version of himself (with a paper bag over his head) in a 2004 episode of The Simpsons.

Internet sleuths dug up the old episode and compared the voice to the one in the book trailer. VoilĂ !

After an initial "no comment," Penguin has confirmed that the voice narrating the trailer in stoner drawl is indeed the publicity-shy author himself.

So could a dust-jacket photo of Pynchon be in the offing for his next release? Don't hold your breath, man.

By Steven E. Levingston |  August 25, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Pynchon's immense talent has always stood out in spades; however, I don't think his genius as a comedic writer as ever been fully appreciated until "Inherent Vice."

Michael Dirda, who reviewed and liked the novel, mentioned a friend has since told him he thinks it's the funniest novel since "Lucky Jim."

I'm nearly finished with listening to a Penguin audio (read by Ron McLarty--does great Sean Penn/"Spicoli"-voiced 1960's heads) and find it brilliantly humorous. In fact, I haven't read an American novel with so many laughs--I'm a man who prides himself on not normally guffawing while reading (or listening)--since "A Confederacy of Dunces." It strikes me that an audio might be the best way to appreciate this particular Pynchon novel.

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | August 26, 2009 3:53 PM

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