Thomas Pynchon slept here. Wouldn’t you like to?
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A Manhattan Beach duplex said to be the former home of author Thomas Pynchon is accepting back-up offers. If the current deal falls through, you could sleep where the reclusive Pynchon once slept, or on the floor above, if you so choose.
The $1.05-million price tag covers both halves of the two-story, Spanish-style duplex. Built in 1931 and with a view of the beach, the property has been marketed to buyers as a possible tear-down.
Pynchon fans with a million bucks to spend must be kicking themselves. When the property was written up by Curbed LA on June 29, it was still available. Now, not even two weeks later, an offer has been made and accepted.
Manhattan Beach was the model for the Gordita Beach of Pynchon’s fiction, which figures prominently in his 2009 book ‘Inherent Vice.’ The apartment is where Pynchon wrote his seminal novel, ‘Gravity’s Rainbow.’
In 1995, the L.A. Times reported on Pynchon’s Manhattan Beach life in detail -- well, as much detail as you might expect for the exceedingly private Thomas Pynchon.
The reclusive author of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ and ‘Vineland’ lived at 217 33rd St. in Manhattan Beach, in a small downstairs apartment next to Beach Pizza (then the Fractured Cow). According to Jim Hall, executive director of the Redondo Pier Assn., Pynchon wrote ‘Rainbow’ in his apartment in the late 1960s, holing himself up for weeks at a time. Hall, then in the Army, met Pynchon through a mutual friend, among a circle of aspiring writers and artists. Coincidentally, across 33rd street lived actress Phyllis Coates, best known as the original Lois Lane on TVs ‘The Adventures of Superman.’ Pynchon, it turns out, dated her daughter, according to Hall. Hall remembers the author as a man who carried around a small plastic pig and lined the walls of his apartment with swine photos.
The pig was a theme. Phyllis Gebauer, who was a lifelong friends of Pynchon’s, recently shared this photo of her standing on his stoop with a pig piñata they named Claude. The stoop? It’s the door that you see at the lower left in the photo above.
The arm flashing the peace sign? That’s Thomas Pynchon.
Will the new owners care that Pynchon slept here? If they don’t, fans making a Manhattan Beach Pynchon pilgrimage may be left standing on that street corner, wondering, ‘Shall I project a world?’
-- Carolyn Kellogg
in Southern California in the 1960s. Credit: UCLA Extension