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A kind of genius

Thomas Pynchon's new novel is full of sharp jokes and gorgeous writing—but it is also incoherent and emotionally distancing. Is the journey worth it?

By Erik Tarloff   130

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (Jonathan Cape, £20)

At times one is agog in admiration, and at times one wants to fling the damned thing across the room. Or would, except it’s too heavy for flinging. Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, weighs in at almost 1,100 densely packed pages. Its cast of characters is enormous. It takes us from Illinois to Colorado, New York, Texas, New Mexico, old Mexico, London, Cambridge, various European cities and villages, the deserts of inner Asia, Los Angeles, and several dimensions not necessarily terrestrial.

A naive reader might ask, “What is it…

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