Thomas Pynchon’s first book V. is probably one of the great books of the last 50 years surely could be classified as a modern classic. It is a book full of symbolism.
It is a story about Benny Profane, a poor “schlemil” whose pathetic life is filled with almost surreal adventures that lead him to gangs and love and alligators in the sewers! But Benny’s adventures become intertwined with those of Stencil and the mysterious V. Here lies the great challenge and great genius of Pynchon. There is a search to discover meaning and perhaps to discover one’s own history.
Pynchon’s tale follows the misadventures of Benny and all the while, like some great mystery thriller in reverse, the deeper one gets into V., the more information that is revealed, the more complex the mystery becomes. Indeed, the thrill of Pynchon is to become ensnared in that mystery and try to find meaning in that complex and interconnected web.
Ultimately, perhaps, like all the great questions in life, the question of the meaning of who V. is. But the power of this novel is that it draws you in to consider that mystery. The book, somehow, finds connections between the great historical events of the beginning of this century and several generations of characters who themselves are all interconnected and the ever-changing technology of this century. Is V. a mysterious woman, a cause of the wars of this century or the essential meaninglessness of modern society? Read V. and discover that answer for yourself!
Fans of Danielle Steel or Stephen King might get a little bit of indigestion reading this though you do not have to have a triple digit IQ to follow this, read it and then re read it and then perhaps have another go you will find more meaning to this masterpiece from the young Pynchon. Enjoy!