BooksJacket Copy

Thomas Pynchon: Some little-known facts

Thomas Pynchon has avoided the limelight his entire career -- he sent a stand-in to accept his National Book Award in 1974, and, as far as we know, hasn't been photographed since his stint in the Navy in the 1950s. But tucked within the quiet stacks of the Huntington Library is the Stephen Tomaske Collection of Pynchonalia, which provides rare glimpses into the author's life. Tomaske was a UCLA librarian who dedicated himself to gathering the most comprehensive collection of Pynchon material he could.Here are some tidbits.

1. Pynchon wrote a column for his high school newspaper called "Voice of the Hamster."

2. The world Pynchon created for "Voice of the Hamster" was full of characters with silly names -- J. Fattington Woodgrouse, Rafeal Faggisducci – just like his novels.

3. His first book, "V.," had a number of alternate titles before it was published, including "Low Lands," "Down Paradise Street," "Of a Fond Ghoul," and "Dream Tonight of Peacock Tails."

4. Another alternate title Pynchon suggested for "V." was "Blood's a Rover" from the poem by A.E. Houseman; James Ellroy used it as a novel title in 2009.

5. Pynchon's wife (literary agent Melanie Jackson) and her sisters all have first names that begin with the letter M.

6. The founder of Springfield, Massachusetts was William Pynchon, Thomas Pynchon's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, who came to America in 1630.

7. Pynchon's SAT numbers are revealed in a document that appears to be an academic record from Cornell. How did he do? 700 verbal, 690 math.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Browsing for books around the world
    Browsing for books around the world

    Despite the dire predictions of recent years, print books refuse to die. Here's a collection of photos of people browsing bookstores, market stalls and book fairs around the world -- everyone's looking for something to read, without an e-book in sight.

  • 11 stunning bookish artworks from the Getty collection
    11 stunning bookish artworks from the Getty collection

    On Monday the Getty joined the ranks of museums that are making their collections not just digitally accessible, but downloadable also. Through its Open Content program, the Getty lifted restrictions on more than 4,600 digital images in its collection, works it holds all rights or are in the...

  • Literary links for 9/11
    Literary links for 9/11

    When America was attacked on 9/11, it seemed as if words might fail. But in trying to understand that tragedy and what it meant, words have served us well. Here are some literary links for the 12th anniversary of those attacks in 2001.

  • Roxane Gay strives to diversify the literary conversation
    Roxane Gay strives to diversify the literary conversation

    For the next two weeks Roxane Gay will be blogging at The Nation about new books by writers of color. Gay, author of the story collection “Ayiti” as well as an essayist and editor, has dedicated herself to calling attention to the lack of diversity in the way we talk about books...

  • National Book Award fiction long list arrives early
    National Book Award fiction long list arrives early

    The National Book Foundation's plan to release the news of its fiction long list Thursday morning was foiled by news outlets that posted the list Wednesday afternoon. With the embargo broken, we bring you the list now; it includes a National Book Award winner, two National Book Award...

  • Book stalls, used books and other pleasures of New York City
    Book stalls, used books and other pleasures of New York City

    One of my favorites urban pleasures has long been buying books on the street. In New York, this means book stalls – and more specifically, the Strand’s book stall, at the southeast edge of Central Park, across Fifth Avenue from the Hotel Pierre.

Comments
Loading