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Slow Learner: Early Stories Paperback – April 30, 1985
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The stories, presented chronologically, are also a testimonial to an astounding learning curve, a man who in very little time learned from his mistakes. And there are mistakes: at times you may find yourself chuckling at the young Pynchon's overwriting or callow viewpoints. Yet these are still the works of a budding genius (my favourite, bar none!) and there glimpses aplenty.
But don't buy the book for the stories alone! No no no! The candid introduction by Pynchon is the real gem here and, for all those Pynchonites, worth the price of admission.
Slow Learner seems to have been produced out of a public interest in Pynchon, perhaps out of the void of 10 years since Rainbow, as something to give us all, ever awed by his labrinthine worlds and layered stories.
Though made up of five stories written from 1959-1964, and published in the Cornell Writer, New World Writing, the Kenyon Review, The Noble Savage 3 and The Saturday Evening Post, there is a sixth tale, the introduction, in which Pynchon shares his analysis and criticism of his works and his earlier self. It is a terrific piece, and suits the experience by pre-empting the stories' weaknesses with his exposure of them.
Without going into them I'll just say that I enjoyed the first three very much, The Small Rain, Low-lands and Entropy. Entropy in particular was a layered, manic visceral fiction that manages to incorporate meta-physics with phychology and neurosis. I did not like Under the Rose, as I found it confusing, pre-occupied with itself and it's twists and I couldn't get into it's rhythm and so finished it in bunches. The glaring aspects of his style become annoyances here, the bizarre names, the digressions into the past, elaborate memories...The Secret Integration though is clearly his most mature, skillful work, with a haunting conclusion that resonates deeply.
I feel the better for reading these works. I know he is a master of sorts, his style and execution are awesome, as well his reputation shrowded in mystery. I recommend this book....
This is a recommended read for any reader interested in the entire works of Pynchon.
It is nice that he left these stories in the condition that he found them, but I can't help but wonder what might have happened if he had revised or revisited them now as a master of his craft. (And then printed both versions.)
Thomas Pynchon (and others) have downed these stories. But, what is poor, beginning writing for someone like Pynchon, is a level that many aspiring writers NEVER achieve. The story Entropy has been reprinted several times, so even though Pynchon finds it weak, it has great value. (At least to some editors.) The first time that I read it, I was not aware that this story was repudiated by its own author.
While Pynchon really requires several hundred pages to reach the stride of his genius, I would certainaly state that these stories and introduction are an excellent place to start to read Thomas Pynchon. While he is often thought of as a writer who mines the pathway, and puts up boundries for his readers, this is far from true. Granted he is a difficult writer, and you need to know a LOT of stuff to completely "Get" what his is up to, he can be read for sheer pleasure. Get what you can and try to get more on each re-reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pynchon shows some skill with reviews of his own works, but his works are total ADD garbage.Published 17 months ago by Hector
I find myself enjoying Pynchon's stories more than Tom himself does. But I digress. If you want to see a talent arise, read this. Read morePublished on May 22, 2014 by Jeremy Schep
This book looks almost new and it is played well. I am so satisfied and happy to buy this quality of book for cheaper price!Published on April 30, 2014 by Steventh
This is an interesting collection of early stories, but my bet is that those who will enjoy the book most are those people who have already bought into the Pynchon mystique. Read morePublished on April 5, 2008 by Fred C.
pynchon's introduction to these stories is truly top-notch. he talks about being an author, what it is like to mature, and what it is to look back at work that one is soo very far... Read morePublished on December 9, 2003 by Charlie Mcintosh
These five stories are all worth reading. "Entropy" is no doubt his most famous; first anthologized in BASS and, since then, numerous other places (even Norton... Read morePublished on May 29, 2000 by Stacey Cochran