Outstanding! There’s no other word to describe this novel. 50 years old this year, it seemed as if it could have been written yesterday. It’s easy to see the influence the now 74 year old author (he was in his 20s when he wrote this) has had on many modern literary writers but many of them do not even come close to the inventiveness and originality of Pynchon. Naturally, this is probably not much of a surprise to anyone but this is the first time I’ve gotten around to finally reading one of his novels. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.
“V” is a wild ride and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of writer he is other than to say that he is a true original. At the time of its publication this novel must have shocked a lot of people. It is so far removed from anything that was going on at the time. The two simultaneous stories that are taking place here have their own flavor. The story line concerning the character “Benny Profane” is a little more in line with the times; a sort of “post-beat” flavor with it’s cast of pseudo-bohemians floundering around New York City; but it’s the story line concerning “Stencil” that I think shows the most originality and inventiveness. Eventually, these two stories come together to make a complete novel, centering around discovering the identity of “V”. It takes you through different---and obscure---events in 20th century history: South West Africa (now Namibia), Egypt, Paris, Malta....an incredible journey for sure; and the cast of characters couldn’t be more original and exciting.
If you haven’t read this novel, I highly suggest that you do. It is truly an original work and there still isn’t anything out there today that equals this in scope and inventiveness. It has quickly earned its place in my list of all time favorites.
Rating: * * * * *