Etcetera ETC with Young Southpaw

EPISODE 32 - PETER COVIELLO ON THOMAS PYNCHION’S ‘”VINELAND”

December 18, 2020

Young Southpaw talks to Peter Coviello about his upcoming book ‘Vineland Reread’ and the wonderful - very funny and very prescient - world of Thomas Pynchon’s novels 

 

Twitter: @pcoviell 

Buy the book - https://cup.columbia.edu/book/vineland-reread/9780231185219 

 

Peter Coviello: As you know, there’s a certain kind of dude who would, like, push Pynchon on you, you know? As a dude who knew a lot and had a lot of information and things like that. And those were not always my dudes. So I was sort of wary. You know what I mean? There’s a certain quality of a very dude-ish delectation around Pynchon that was not really my thing. And so you’re heard of him because you’re in school and you’re reading things, but then after graduation a clutch of my friends had moved to Chicago, I’d moved away and I came back and I got to see them. That was a tremendous joy in the way of being 23, and seeing your friends that you haven’t seen for years, so you’re drunk all the time and you’re just very happy to see each other. And what I realized with this set of friends - John, Laura, and Enrique - is that they’d all been reading this one book. And that book was ‘Vineland’. They were just delighted by it in the way like the way that you’d be delighted by a record. They just wanted to talk about it, and they wanted to fight about like what track was coolest, and I was like ‘alright’. So the first Pynchon I read was ‘Vineland’, which was shattering to me not because I understood it or anything, I just thought it was so funny. There hadn’t been a book I’d read where I had laughed so hard and so self-endangeringly, I thought I was going to rupture something internal. After that I read ‘The Crying Of Lot 49’, which, of course, is smaller and easier to digest and funny. And then I went back to ‘Vineland’. And then it lifted off from there. But ‘Vineland’ was really my first immersive experience. And it was with a handful of other people and that was a way to stay close to them. It was totally like how you fight about a record when it came out. And this was 1994, we had lots of records to fight about, 23 years old as we were. 

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