I find him tedious, shallow, monotonous, flippant, self-satisfied, and screamingly unfunny. I hate his aesthetic from floor to ceiling: the relentless patter of his Borscht Belt gags, his parodically overstuffed plots, his ham-fisted verbs (scowling, growling, glaring,leering, lurching) and adjectives (lurid, louche, lecherous), the tumbling micro-rhythms of his sentences, the galloping macro-rhythms of his larger narratives. I hate the discount paranoia he slathers over everything with an industrial-size trowel. I hate the cardboard cutouts he tries to pass off as human characters, and I hate—maybe most of all—his characters’ stupid names. (I even hate his name, which makes him sound like some kind of 29th-century sci-fi lobster.) I hate the fake song lyrics he invents for his characters to sing and the fake restaurants (Man of La Muncha) he invents for them to eat at and the stupid acronyms he invents for them to pledge their lives to.
Admittedly, I’ve only made it through The Crying of Lot 49, and then only for a lit class in college. It’s a teeny tiny little bitty book and I struggled the whole time and did not enjoy the effort. A few months later, flush with my diploma and clearly suffering from grave amnesia, I picked up a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow and have yet to crack it open. The thing is a monster. Just seeing it on my shelf gives me the willies.
Suffice to say that I don’t have the sort of relationship with Pynchon that the author of the review seems to, and there’s always a different when you read for pleasure and read for class, but there’s a tiny part of me that’s cheered to find I’m not the only one who finds his writing a bit less than awesome.