Against the Day

Against the Day

by Thomas Pynchon

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The inimitable Thomas Pynchon has done it again. Hailed as "a major work of art" by The Wall Street Journal, his first novel in almost ten years spans the era between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I and moves among locations across the globe (and to a few places not strictly speaking on the map at all). With a phantasmagoria of characters and a kaleidoscopic plot, Against the Day confronts a world of impending disaster, unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places and still manages to be hilarious, moving, profound, and so much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143112563
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 1104
Sales rank: 202,385
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 2.20(d)
Age Range: 18 - 17 Years

About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland , Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 8, 1937

Place of Birth:

Glen Cove, Long Island, New York

Education:

B. A., Cornell University, 1958

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[Pynchon's] funniest and arguably his most accessible novel."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Those who climb aboard Pynchon's airship will have the ride of their lives. History lesson, mystical quest, utopian dream, experimental metafiction, Marxist melodrama, Marxian comedy- Against the Day is all of these things and more."
-The Washington Post Book World

"Raunchy, funny, digressive, brilliant."
-USA Today

"Rich and sweeping, wild and thrilling."
-The Boston Globe

"Audacious, bodacious, entropic, synoptic, electric, eclectic, entertaining, hyperbraining, high- roller, tripolar."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Against the Day 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are a lot of people who will have trouble with this book. Like previous Pynchon, Against the Day is an epic, with a large cast, covering a significant amount of time, and including a lot of background information. For people who want a 'good' read, i.e. emotional involvement, easy to follow plot, normal characters, etc. this book would not be the right choice. However, if you want an intellectual challenge, if you want to read artistic prose and like clever word usage, if you want to engage in an exploration of writing and enjoy uncovering numerous allusions and references, this book will not disappoint. Pynchon does not write for everyone and Sunday readers will not enjoy his work. Oprah won't choose it for her bookclub because house moms and semi-literate executives won't know what to do with it. It is elitist. It is intellectual. It is literary. If you don't like that, don't buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely mind-blowing. There isn't one author living right now who comes close to the level of prose mastery that Pynchon commands. If you want character studies or fast plots, look elsewhere - but this novel makes you feel like you're five years old and learning about the solar system for the first time. Pynchon is a such an original, and so in a class of his own, that nobody ever knows what to say about him - but this is an awe-inspiring re-invention of the novel.
jlawshe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe I'm getting too old. Or maybe the fact that I've started writing fiction in earnest is changing my reading tastes. Or maybe I just don't have time for these doorstops now that I'm out of school.Whatever the case, I'm starting to feel a little disillusioned with Pynchon. I still really love V. and Gravity's Rainbow, but TRP's random hyper-referential stylings are starting to wear me down. And yet, every time he comes out with a book, I have to read it. Like it's my duty. At least the next one (Inherent Vice) is short.
matthue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i've only read the first hundred pages or so -- which, considering the edition i was reading was 1200 pages, is barely a scratch -- but i'm sold. as soon as i come across another copy.
fourbears on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this in January and put it down for other projects. I started again this summer and found it much easier to read the parts I'd already read. Now I really feel like starting all over again and maybe and tracing down every reference. I once read Ulysses like that, with a concordance in one hand the Ulysses in the other. A more experienced reader, I got lots of references now (most focused on the science and history on the late 19th and early 20th century) and enjoyed doing so enormously. But I just discovered a Pynchon Wiki which explains references page by page. I also liked it because Pynchon plays constantly with the idea of time travel, a fun subject for me. There are zillions of characters with funny names. The novel starts at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893 and moves to Colorado to Mexico to New England and New York, to England and Germany and France to Italy, to Central Asia and and Siberia and back to Istanbul and Bulgaria and Italy and California. The novel begins with the "Chums of Chance" who have "adventures" like the Hardy boys only in a hot air ballloon that increasingly as the novel progresses "escapes" this world for other worlds that may be parallel universes.... One of the difficult things is that there's not really a main character, though I found myself "hooked" when I looked forward to the next segment on the several characters that I really liked. NOW I can read the article I printed out on Against the Day and time travel!
zip_000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't exactly remember when I started reading this book, but it seems like a long, long time ago. My first impression of the book is that it is massive - a bit over 1000 pages. My most recent impression is that it was quite a good book. Of Pynchon's novels, it is probably the most easily accessible with the possible exception of Vineland.I think one of the reasons for its size, as well as one of the reasons for its accessibility, is that it is really more like 4 or 5 books - in as many styles - than one book. There is a boys adventure story, there is a western revenge story, there is a noire detective story, there is a European espionage story, there is an oriental mysticism story. Of course all of the stories and styles are all mish-mashed together. Reading other reviews, it seems that many people came to this looking for a message or some meaning, but I really doubt that there is any coherent take away from a book like this.I'd like to write more because it was such an amazing book, but I'm not feeling terribly inspired at the moment.
abirdman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pynchon's newest novel, and brilliant the way Gravity's Rainbow is. This is a (ginormous) book that runs on the pure energy of the joy of writing. More or less the history of the world from the Chicago Exposition in the 1880's to World War One, covering politics, science, populism, mathematics, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and the Wild West.
billiecat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Pynchon novel is not a "quick read." It took me ten years to finally work my way through "Mason & Dixon," having several false starts. It took me a couple of months to work my way through "Against the Day," even though it was not nearly as difficult. Pynchon's word-play, dense structure, his allusive prose-style, and sudden shifts in perspective and narrative focus mean a casual read is out of the question. Yet, despite the difficulty, I still enjoy Pynchon's novels. They are full of wit, some wisdom, and a lot of scope, always looming out there the Big Questions - like, where are we going, what are we doing here, and just what, after all is this book about?In fact, I loved "Mason & Dixon," which added a layer of humanity on the work of an author whose writing sometimes seems as cold and inhuman as anything he must have written while he worked for Boeing. In "Against the Day" he returns more or less to his emotionally austere form, however, with a sprawling novel that moves from Colorado mining towns to Mexican revolutions to London, Vienna and Venice, to pre- and post-war Europe, and, as Pynchon says, "one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all." One does not read Pynchon for deep character development (although "Mason & Dixon" broke new ground with its titular astronomer and surveyor), but it is expected that there will gobs of people with strange names, and Pynchon does not disappoint.Indeed, this book as a whole does not disappoint. While not as good as "Mason & Dixon," "V." or "Gravity's Rainbow," it features the breadth of Pynchon's talent and is a worthy addition to his oeuvre.
nog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why did Pynchon write this book? None of the positive reviews in the press have enlightened me. Is there anything important being said here? At times self-parodying, at others self-indulgent, I think this book is just a big mess.It's too bad. When I was 20 years old, I read my first Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow" (this was in 1973, by the way). I thought it brilliant then, and still do. But I have to call 'em as I see 'em, and this one misses by a lot.Yes, I've read some things about themes, bilocation, etc.It's that what themes there are, are half-baked ideas, not terribly well-executed, coherent, or comprehensible. One of Pynchon's weaknesses has been the inability to define his characters as fully-formed, believable persons. They usually represent one or more attitudes, or more likely, afflictions in the service of the bigger picture. He got away with that in "Gravity's Rainbow", because the overall message was powerful and disturbing. Here, I was waiting for the payoff. Where is it?
ShanLizLuv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finally!!! Not his best, but I've waited soooooooo long for a new Pynchon. And let's be honest, "not his best" from Pynchon outdoes most writers' "top-notch."
xtien on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read a couple hundred pages and then stopped. It's just a lot of uncoordinated uninteresting stories that don't make sense. I'm sure that if you finish the book, the piese will fall into place, but it shouldn't take three hundred pages of gibberish and I still don't know if I like it. There's so many books I like so much, I'll put this one up on eBay.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe 2 stars if an unknown author had written it. Pynchon's flow which has worked so well in other books, for me especially Mason Dixon, seems to be contrived and split apart formally into the different threads. I found myself resisting the unbelievable, fantastic and almost comic-book trials and travails of the boy heros traveling in the air balloon, while I loved the thread about the bad cowboy killer. I couldn't finish it; I found myself skipping the basically boring storylines trying to find the good ones--fortunately they didn't interconnect. Please don't read this as your first Pynchon because it might not make you come back for more.
doogiewray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished Against the Day (last eight pages read in a hot bubble-bath drinking a cold Margarita). Off the top of my head, I think it's really, really good. Some of the reviews (one in the Pynchon Pandæmonium group called it "shit") make me wonder if the readers actually read the whole book. Even the "professional reviewers" talk about one-dimensional, cartoonish characters, but that might be only valid for the first few hundred pages. Once the various threads start come together, things start to brew like a good pot of coffee. For example, the (very) strange ménage à trois of Yasheem, Reef and Cyprian was incredibly touching as it developed from three completely different ("orthogonal" would probably be a word that Pynchon might use here) Walks of Life into one blended and complementary triad (x, y, and i (i.e., the square root of minus one)). Well, for me at least, Pynchon's writing brought clarity, understanding and deep empathy for these (and other) characters to the point that I was really rooting for all three.Typically for Pynchon, other threads and characters were left up to you to decide what eventually happened to them (such as the Great Revenge Plot against Deuce Kindred (and Lake) (ah, but maybe Life was the Ultimate Revenge here, huh? - you'll have to read it to find out)).Still, though, off the top of my Margarita-soaked brain, I felt that Against the Day was a really good yarn that had many, many brilliant exposés on today's political "situation."The ending is one full of hope for that Day when we can all live in Grace with one another, as individuals and as a World. By the way, the Inconvenience (referred to below) is a dirigible that, over the course of the novel, evolves into some sort of spaceship/society, becoming, in the process, a metaphor for our own "spaceship/society.""Never sleeping, clamorous as a nonstop feast day, Inconvience, once a vehicle of sky-pilgrimage, has transformed into its own destination, where any wish that can be made is at least addressed, if not always granted. For every wish to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and uncompensated would have to be evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us. No one aboard Inconvience has yet observed any sign of this. They know - Miles is certain - that it is there, like an approaching rainstorm, but invisible. Soon they will see the pressure-gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on smoked goggles for the glory of what is coming to part the sky. They fly to grace."To Pynchon's final note, I add my own "may it be so, where we all, too, reach a time/place of mutual respect and kindness!"Or, in the words of a popular song, "in the end, only kindness matters."
emed0s on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First of all let me tell you that despite the low rating I've read this book from end to end, hoping to get to like as most people seems to do.I was disappointed from the very beginning when I found that this book could be categorized as fiction but also as fantasy, all the "magic" flying ships, time travel ...And then there's the over-crafted language, I recognize that Pynchon is really good at writing but plenty of times it just felt like pseudointellectualism for me, fabricating really complex descriptions or conversations that don't serve any purpose.The book is long enough to have parts where my main complains are not present but then the lack of both deep characters and a cohesive story kept me away from enjoying the reading.
Lapsus16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as Gravity's Rainbow, but close. You will need a good semester to go through this, and a lot of internet/Wiki help. But at the end you will be a better person, more optimistic and more knowledgeable. Which is a lot to ask for from any book!
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one's my first attempt at Pynch. It's a 1100-page postmodern amalgam of historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, obscenity (not erotica; I knows it when I sees it), travel-adventure, violence, greed, anarchy, allusions, capitalism, surrealism and early 20th century zaniness. It was a real tough slog, but certainly well worth a re-read at some later date.
Widsith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The early reviews I read of Against the Day were all a little bewildered, and gave me the distinct impression that a lot of reviewers had tried to skim-read this huge novel so they could get their articles written in time. It¿s not an easy one to write up at all. It¿s very long, very busy, and you come to it with all kinds of preconceptions, just because it¿s Pynchon and although he¿s only written a few novels they all seem to be masterpieces.For people who have been following him over the years, it¿s something of a change of direction. His last two books, Vineland and Mason & Dixon, seemed to show a new concern with characters, personalities and intimacy compared to the unreconstructed craziness of his earlier work. But Against the Day has much more in common with his earlier books ¿ it most closely resembles Gravity¿s Rainbow (the hipster¿s long novel of choice), although there is a weariness, a kind of ironic distance at work here which points to an older author.If it seems like I¿m putting off the business of actually trying to explain what this novel¿s about, it¿s because I am. Ostensibly we are looking at a timeframe moving from the Chicago World¿s Fair of 1893 to the years immediately after the First World War. Pynchon has always been much more interested than his compatriot writers in the world outside America, and here we get wonderful sketches of everywhere from Colorado, New York and Chicago to Siberia, London, Yugoslavia, Morocco, revolutionary Mexico, Constantinople, Venice and plenty more besides. The cast of characters is huge, though not as disorienting as some reviewers have made out. The main plot strand concerns three brothers from Colorado trying to avenge their father¿s murder, though there is also a boy¿s-own spy story involving British agents and unrest in the Balkans, not to mention a whole subplot about characters who are at least partly fictional even within the world of the novel.It¿s not even entirely certain whether or not these events are taking place precisely in our world. In the novel, not only do we have the new force of electricity changing the face of society, but we also have mathematicians and scientists devising machines which can make photographs move or allow for the possibility of time-travel. In many ways it¿s written not as a historical novel but as a sci-fi novel might have looked written by someone in the 1880s. `By now,¿ someone remarks at one point, `I know that your most deranged utterances are only conventional history prematurely blurted.¿At first that just seems like a cute conceit, but as the novel goes on it assumes a greater importance. There is always a suggestion that the world of possibilities shown in here somehow became our own world after some cataclysmic event, which is especially associated with the War. `This world you take to be ¿the¿ world will die,¿ says one character, `and descend into Hell, and all history after that will belong properly to the history of Hell.¿The upcoming war looms over everything, just as the Second World War did over Gravity's Rainbow. It is conceived as being so awful that it has stained time itself, affecting events long before it happened with an air of sinister disaster. It is the darkness behind everyday events, which is sensed preternaturally by almost every character in the book, and which allows Pynchon to give free rein to his delight in finding mystery and paranoia in otherwise normal events. Who else would, or could, describe a sunrise like this:The sun came up a baleful smear in the sky, not quite shapeless, in fact able to assume the appearance of a device immediately recognizable yet unnameable, so widely familiar that the inability to name it passed from simple frustration to a felt dread, whose intricacy deepened almost moment to moment¿its name a word of power, not to be spoken aloud, not even to be remembered in silence.Here you can see all Pynchon¿s trad
osodani on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I simly could not get through this book. I gave it a valiant effort - I didn't give up until about page 650. At that point, I reassessed, and realized that I had no idea what was going on in several of the story's plotlines. Some of the plot threads were very interesting - but others made no sense and seemed as if Pynchon was just writing stream of consciousness. At some point I will try another Pynchon book (since this was my first), but I cannot recommend this to anyone. I feel like if it had been written by any other author, it would never have been published.
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AoifeMairead More than 1 year ago
Great book, loved it. Recommended.
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great reading