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Vineland

1990

"This Vineland is a wild off-spring: an odd-shaped egg from the old boiler himself, so curiously egg-bound for so long (seventeen years! -shit, it's already a teenager by the time it's born!)" (1)

Alec McHoul gives away his first impressions in: "Vineland: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA FICTION (or St. Ruggles' Struggles)", published in Pynchon Notes 26-27, spring-fall 1990: 97-106.

Many critics were disappointed when Vineland was published -17 years after Gravity's Rainbow, another 'light' novel. It became a seller

Around the publication time of Pynchon's 4th novel -the 2nd one set in California- Pynchon marries his agent Melanie Jackson and becomes father of Jackson. He lives in New York at least since that time.

The Tube
  • Oh . the . Tube!
  • It's poi-soning your brain!
  • Oh, yes..
  • It's dri-ving you, insane!
  • It's shoot-ing rays, at you,
  • Over ev'ry-thing ya do,
  • It sees you in your bedroom,
  • And - on th' toi-let too!
  • Tube..
  • It knows, your ev'ry thought,
  • Hey, Boob, you thought you would-
  • T'n get caught -
  • While you were sitting there, starin' at "The Brady Bunch,"
  • Big fat computer jus'
  • Had you for lunch, now Th'
  • Tube -
  • It's plugged right in, to you!

(Vineland, 336-337)

Excerpts from Criticism

It is the Summer of 1984 in Vineland, California. That is to say, what we are presented with here is a very specific sense of time and place, a contingent locality, a "present." Vineland's primary narrative, though punctuated by various ellipses and flashbacks, unfolds in a semi-fantastic version of "our" 1984; not the year of the same name imagined by George Orwell. There is, however, a kind of symmetry at work in this case —an intersecting political history— and it is perhaps no accident that the events of Pynchon's Vineland are bracketed by this notorious digits. In fact, comparing Vineland to this "other" (Orwellian) 1984 begins to reveal how the Kunoichi will provide an effective way of examining Pynchon's own "state of emergency" —that all important link between the particular and the general.

Samuel Thomas. "Chapter Six. Sir Yes Sir! Doing it to Yourself and Doing it for Yourself in Vineland." Pynchon and the Political, Routledge, New York/London, 2007: 131-150 (133).

By Vineland, however, the chief fascist has been downgraded from werewolf to badger (the Old English meaning of Brock, as David Cowart points out), and Pynchon is working on a more complex, more realistic version of the fascist flip, centered on Frenesi (Cowart, "Continuity" 178). Here we have no singular moments of gothic transformation, nor the willed opacity of Pynchon's previous female double agents like V. or Katje Borgesius. It is true that during the bad-weather sequence in Oklahoma City where her betrayal of Weed becomes complete, Pynchon does associate Frenesi, "electrically excited" by sex, with "gray mother storms giving birth," the scene in effect casting her as the Whore of Babylon to Vond's Satanic "Beast" (VL 212). But Pynchon parodically defuses Frenesi's likeness to V. and other such White Goddess figures in his previous texts: in his wink at readers right before her reunion with her mother, Prairie plays a game of crazy eights in which "the whereabouts of the Mother of Doom," the queen of spades, is in question; Prairie wins that hand, and her mother proves no such thing (367). It indeed seems that Pynchon, for much of the book, wishes to render Frenesi as "just another mom in the nation of moms," not a werewolf but "[o]nly an animal with"-when it comes to her parenting particularly-"a full set of pain receptors after all" (292, 287).

Jeffrey Severs. "In Fascism's Footprint: The History of "Creeping" and Vineland's Poetics of Betrayal", V. is for Varo too: Hispanic Elements in the Work of Thomas Pynchon, Pynchon Notes 56-57, 2009: 212-228 (214).