Thomas Pynchon: Tracked but not found by New York magazine

The Trystero symbol from Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49," spotted on "Pynchon in Public Day" celebrated on the author's May 8 birthday.
(Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times)

Thomas Pynchon, the world’s most famous reclusive novelist — after that chatterbox J.D. Salinger — “hides in plain sight, on the Upper West Side, with a family and a history of contradictions,” writes New York magazine in a new feature. The story follows Pynchon in greater detail than we’ve seen before but never finds him.

The occasion for the pursuit is the upcoming Pynchon novel “Bleeding Edge,” due Sept. 17. The Pynchon uncovered by Boris Kachka is a man of contradictions, including “a workaholic stoner” and “a literary outsider who’s married to a literary agent.”

The article details Pynchon’s American odyssey through the last century, from his birth in 1937 to a Long Island childhood, hippie days with Richard Farina, a job with Boeing and drifting through Mexico, Manhattan Beach and Humboldt County.

Yet Pynchon has been the most there-but-not-there as a Manhattan resident married to high-powered literary agent Melanie Jackson, where he eschewed photographs and the media but came out for the occasional “Simpsons” cameo or article on the forgotten rock band Lotion.


While a film is being made of one of his books for the first time, with Paul Thomas Anderson directing and Joaquin Phoenix as the pothead detective in “Inherent Vice,” there is no sign that Pynchon is coming out of his shell anytime soon.


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