A sprawling, complex, and comic work from one of the country's most celebrated and idiosyncratic authors, Mason & Dixon
is Thomas Pynchon's Most Magickal reinvention of the 18th-century novel. It follows the lifelong partnership and adventures of the English surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (of Mason-Dixon Line fame) as they travel the world mapping and measuring through an uncharted pre-Revolutionary America of Native Americans, white settlers, taverns, and bawdy establishments of ill-repute. Fans of the postmodern master of paranoia will recognize Pynchon's personality in the novel's first phrase: "Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs," a brief echo of the rockets that curve across the skies in the writer's masterpiece Gravity's Rainbow
From Library Journal
The publication of Pynchon's fifth novel is certain to be a highlight of the literary year. To try and summarize it would be an exercise in futility. Like his previous works, this one is complex?much more than a simple, rollicking tale of 18th-century surveyors as they wend their way south (to the Cape of Good Hope) and west (to America, where they drew the line for which they will ever be famous?the boundary that came to define North and South). Indeed, it is this line, this artificial border, that lies at the heart of the novel. When Mason confides to Captain Zhang that the unremitting forest disturbs him, his exotic companion replies that given that Adam and Eve, Buddha and Newton were all enlightened while sitting beneath trees, "A quick review would suggest that Trees produce Enlightenment. Trees are not the Problem. The Forest is not an Agent of Darkness. But it may be your Visto [line] is. ...Nothing will produce Bad History more directly nor brutally, than drawing a line." This belief in the danger of artificial boundaries?be they political, literary, or philosophical?is reflected in the very structure of Pynchon's novels, in his efforts not to let "rules" get in the way of what it is he is trying to say. His novel is often poetic, sometimes tedious, and occasionally arcane. The digressions may temporarily confuse, but the humor is sure to amuse (even Star Trek gets a nod). More accessible than Gravity's Rainbow, this is still not a novel to be read quickly. It is a work that grows on one, and as the reader follows from tree to tree, a forest truly does begin to emerge?with an important message for our "scientific" age. From one of the most unique, thoughtful, and challenging of contemporary authors, a work that is essential for every public and academic library.-?David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
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