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Speaker:Thanks a lot David, thanks Bill for setting this wonderful event up ah, one more thank you perhaps to greet first some Pynchonians in the audience. I have invited down for the weekend Tim Ware who is the founder of PynchonWiki.com which is a revolutionary and influential work of crowd sourced literary criticism where a lot of Pynchonians share our knowledge and obsession to the greater benefit of newbies everywhere and also followed shortly I believe now by David Foster Wallace wiki and Beatles wiki. And I'm especially glad that he is here because this is going to be perhaps a little bit Socratic. I encourage other people to weigh in with answers to a few questions that will pop up along the way but I feel like I have an ace in the hole in Tim. Hello also to San Francisco viewers, I happily try to serve them and you as the book critic of the San Francisco Chronicle for 7 years so I think writing from California is a wonderful idea. It is also a special treat to be here in this building, in this institution whose contents I tried to help preserve and a bucket brigade about 20 years ago may be with a lot of you. And its just really fun to be here and single up a lot of loves together. We mentioned her earlier and in my opinion the Her of the title is not or not just started Scarlett Johansson, its Los Angeles. So without further ado the title card. Pynchon Hep L.A. heptalogy. Who knows what a heptalogy is? Seven, exactly, its a novel composed of seven volumes as supposed to two great ones are the Remembrance Of Things Passed with some people have translated as in Search Of Lost Time and of course J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter novels. I maintain the Thomas Pynchon is an essentially, necessary, indispensable Los Angeles and California writer as evidenced, by his L.A. Heptalogy which I think we can all agree is quite separate at least I hope you will come away with that impression. So, we're going to look at some quotations of Thomas Pynchon and I was trying to thing how best to illustrate them and the best I could do was to think one of the great troves of Los Angeles whose visual culture which is the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and I will just read this aloud because we're talking about writing from California and Writing from California should be read aloud. This is from V by the way which is not commonly thought of a Los Angeles novel it was written yeah Thomas Pynchon before he ever visited I believe, Los Angeles unless he stopped here on his way to Guanajuato Mexico where some of the book was written but he does mention Los Angeles in it and rather tellingly too I think the quote mentions A weird cannon of 20th century metaphysics we come to associate with the city of Los Angeles and similar regions. Thomas Pynchon would eventually get to know Los Angeles a good bit better as you currently see, this for those, what is this anybody? Absolutely, Aimee Semple McPherson, Foursquare Church on Echo Park Lake. Next up, there we go, The Crying of Lot 49 the quote reads, Old timers, real good documentation this Californiana crap. As you can see, this is the, I believe the Parker Lyon Pony Express Museum, pay special attention to the banner over the door which reads, History with laughs which I would argue has been Thomas Pynchons project from the very beginning V takes place in New York in the 1950s but also flashes back copiously to the Europe and North Africa of about 100 or 110 years ago. Every Thomas Pynchon novel is a historical novel with arguably one extension, anybody? Not from Tim, Anthony or other ringer today. Sorry, we gonna have to turn over the cards and reveal that it is The Crying of Lot 49 in fact, this very book which takes place in California in the mid 1960s where it was written because Pynchon had come here by then. Pynchon was living on the beach or near it in the South Bay and will go into greater detail about that in a moment as well. Now, this is where the heptalogy starts to get a little baggy because in fact, we're gonna talk not about a book so much as an essay. This is an essay called A Journey Into The Mind of Watts it was written by Thomas Pynchon in the New York Times after the Watts riots. I should also mention and should have long before now that almost all of these photographs are not just from the photo collection of Los Angeles Public Library but from the WPA photo collections of the Los Angeles Public Library. This is one of a couple of exceptions because of course Simon Rodia had not, the Watts Tower is where at best a twinkle in his eye in 1939 won a lot of WPA photographs of Los Angeles were taken and wonderful WPA guide to Los Angeles was being written. Next up, Pynchons, well its not every writer who has more than one magnum opus but I think its fair to say this is one of them, Gravity, oh I didnt even read the passage, sorry about that, should I read theyes. Next to the towers along the old pacific electric tracks, kids are busy everyday busting. I'm gonna take advantage of my portable microphone, Next to the towers along the old pacific tracks, kids are busy everyday busting more bottles on the street rails. But Simon Rodia is dead and now the junk just accumulates. Its one of Pynchons very few works of journalism although I maintain one of the great uncollected anthologies would be his essays and book reviews. And now, Gravitys Rainbow. People also think of Gravitys Rainbow anything but a Los Angeles novel, but in fact, write smack in the middle the hero, Tyrone Slothrop is very fun of Zoot Suits and there is a wonderful flash back where his particular Zoot Suit came from namely Los Angeles string, the heyday of Zoot Suit and the Pachucos let me just read this quotation. The Zoot Suit is in a box-tight with a purple ribbon, key chains in there too. They both belong to a kid who used to live in east Los Angeles named Ricky Gutierrez during the Zoot Suit Riot of 1943, young Gutierrez was set upon by a car load of Anglo vigilantes from Whittier beaten up why the L.A. police watched and called out advise and then arrested for disturbing the peace. These of course are the defendants in the Zoot Suit case, they seemed to have varying reactions to their incarceration, wonderful, wonderful photograph also obviously not a WPA photograph because it took place during World War 2. Gravitys Rainbow too is one of the instances where our heptalogy becomes, I hope a little more hip but also a little less or a little more than hepta. At the end of Gravitys Rainbow after depending on your edition 7,8 or 900 pages of Europe, he does an odd thing, a thing I never quite although I loved it from the moment I read it which is he takes us to Los Angeles in the 1970s. I came up with a hypothesis after having read the book in college just recently, has anybody read Julio Cortazars wonderful short story, A Continuity of Parks its a sensational and its about a man reading a book in a room in a room about a murderer who creeps up on a man reading a book in a room. Much better than that but you get the upshot. Well, Thomas Pynchons Gravitys Rainbow in Manhattan beach in the 1970s and I think the reason the rocket fired in Europe lands 30 or so years later half a world away in Los Angeles is Pynchons way of firing the gun at the back of his own head. He actually knew Cortazars work we know that in fact he once translated Cortazars great short story Axolotl So the quote reads, Philip Marlow will suffer a horrible migraine and reach by reflex for the pint of rye in his suit pocket, and feel homesick for the lacework balconies of the Bradbury Building. I just visited the Bradbury Building again this morning before breakfast at the Grand Central Market and you will be pleased to discover that it is in fact still the most beautiful building in the world. This is of course not the very end of Gravitys Rainbow in which the rocket is about to strike Los Angeles but it is in the last very few pages, you can see the Bradbury Building, obviously exterior but not interior is not often I find a flaw in the WPA but at least they could have stepped inside before exposing the picture but there is one last quotation from Gravitys Rainbow and this is from very near the ending quotation reads, The Santa Monica freeway is which is immediately above the photographer is traditionally the scene of every form of automotive folly known to man. It is not widened well-bred like the San Diego, nor as treacherously engineered as the Pasadena, nor quite as ghetto-suicidal as the Harbor. No, one hesitates to say it, but the Santa Monica is a freeway for freaks. The rocket at the end of Gravitys Rainbow is not just about to strike Los Angeles its about to strike a theatre full of movie goers may be in Los Angeles or may be in Antwerp but its a little iffy having managed the New Art Theatre in 1987 and 88 very hard by the intersection of the 405 and 10 freeways I like to think that its the North. They are also showing of double bill of Orpheus and that would be ??? Orpheus which I bring up also so as the stall because I can't remember the other picture. Black Orpheus and the Seventh Seal both movies in which death appears and thats not the sort of double bill that were showing in Antwerp in the 1940s they were showing it at the New Art in the 1970s. Okay the quote, lets see. I should also mention that Pynchon is a ??? in the World California and Chandler fan even before he got around to writing detective novels like Inherent Vice set here which I will mention in a moment and Bleeding Edge Set unfortunately in New York and there is even a moment in Gravitys Rainbow where Pynchon quotes Chandler although he doesnt copped to it. He describes someone who is having breath-smelling like the inside of a motormans glove, and the Chandler line from The Big Sleep is, I woke up with a motormans glove in my mouth. By the way, happy birthday Philip Marlowe also born in the year 1939 along with Union Station 75 years ago. Okay, we know have a bit fun for Gravitys Rainbow and visit Vineland which by the way well let just read the quotes so that you dont have to listen to me while you're reading along. History in this town, Sasha muttered, is no more worthy of respect than the average movie script and it comes about in the same way. As soon as there is one version of the story, suddenly its anybodys pigeon. Vineland is, along with The Crying of Lot 49 one of Pynchons great bipolar California novels that is to say, it is as much about Northern California as it is about Southern California and surely somebody in this room whom I will stare at if he doesnt pipe up with the answer can name the only other writer I can think of who writes as well about Northern California as Southern California. Perhaps he is in the green room, but David Ulin will be talking about Joan Didion tomorrow morning. The relationship between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a frat one in Pynchon gets into this at some length at least in passing in his L.A. San Francisco novels in fact it puts in mind of a line I got off in the Chronicle when I was reading Davids wonderful anthology of L.A. writing which he was quoting from earlier namely the idea of unrequited hate, they hate us and we kind of like them, but oh well. By the way, for the students of the L.A. San Francisco rivalry or pseudo rivalry, I dont know if you noticed, some Angelino investors bought the Mark Hopkins Hotel this morning. And now we come another magnum opus, oops sorry have I over shot, oh by the way, thats Gary Coopers house, he was a friendly witness in the Hue Act Hearings, even though he was his best role arguably was in a movie written by an unfriendly witness Carl Foreman who was subsequently blacklisted and had in fact previously written for the WPA guide of Los Angeles. Now, Mason and Dixon a book about westering about the drawing of the Mason and Dixon line between Maryland and Virginia with little Delaware thronian to the west with many meditations about what it might have been like if they had persevered all the way to the true west. Is it not the very rhythm of the Indians the clamour of the mills, the rock of the oceans, the roll of the drums in the night that is to say the rock of the oceans and the roll of the drums in the night, why if one wish to give it a name, surf music, the few cries, its one of Pynchons L.A. jokes from a book set in the 1760s. I chose this photo because of the WPA orchestra. There is a trumpeter in back which of course calls to mind mariachi music, one of the great California and Mexico co-productions and no lesser figure than Dick Dale, arguably the father of surf music has credited mariachi music as one of its prime antecedents. Okay now we get to Thomas Pynchons longest novel Against The Day a book by the way which I reviewed as I reviewed every Pynchons novels since Mason and Dixon which I did in the improbable pages of the Los Angeles Daily News, in Publishers Weekly where by the way, you dont get a byline, which frustrated me very much and I was at that time the director of literature at the National Endowment for the Arts so I couldnt very well take a byline about a writer who might, although is rather improbable in the case of Thomas Pynchon, someday applied as for grant, but I found a way around it which is why the first word of this review is knotty, which is not a word which I have ever started to review before and I doubt I ever will again but it does start with a K even I'll be at a silent one. Its a five-paragraph review. The first paragraph started with a letter K, the second paragraph started with a letter I, third paragraph started with a letter P, and my name is Kip and then you get the idea. Against The Day is another novel that in this case well taking place about 110 or so years ago and the decade on either side ends in Los Angeles and I will read you the quote. They flew northwest and one night look down, they are in a balloon by the way sky ship its called, They flew northwest and one night look down and beheld and incalculable expansive lights which according to their charts was knows is the City of Our Lady, Queen of the angels. My heavens exclaimed Hartsis where on earth is this, thats sort of a problem Chick said than on earth part. By the way, which of this weekends writers used to quote from Against the Day is the epigraph to one of her recent books, unless she is not here, I hope she would pipe up Take One Candle Light A Room by Susan Straight has an epigraph from Against the Day and I believe near the end of its thousand pages so hats off to her. Next up, Inherent Vice, passage reads, They stirred south Gordita beach emerged from the haze gently flaking away in the salt breezes, the rum shake town in a spill of weather bittern colors like paint ships at some out of the way hardware store. Gordita beach is of course dating back to violent Thomas Pynchons alias from Manhattan beach where he lived when he was writing some of The Crying of Lot 49 and also Gravitys Rainbow, this is the Manhattan beach pier is taken by WPA photographer whose name I apologise I did not have time to make a note of, but I encourage you all to pay a visit to the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library for all of its wonderful marvels and not the least, the WPA collection which numbers some 1500 photographs or you could get the WPA guides to Los Angeles and California with 1921 introduction to. Not all the photographs but some of the really choice ones. By the way, who knows who is making a movie of Inherent Vice right now? Paul Thomas Anderson, starring the star of her Walking Phoenix and this is a very California book. Its very cinematic, the climax I would argue is indecipherable without the knowledge of the movie China Town, luckily we've all seen Chinatown. The Denuma a wonderful quote that takes place on the freeway again. And now, I dont know, we got a couple of minutes and I got one slide left but I'm gonna hold it back, its from Bleeding Edge which I mentioned earlier is commonly thought to be a Ney York novel but then so as V and we know better now. Whose got any questions about Thomas Pynchon and Los Angeles. I probably should have warn you with the tops so you would have one in your pocket but I dont have my heart set on this I'm just basically stalling but I will give you another, I dont know, count to ten in my head. No questions. I'll meet you out in the lobby and we can take it up there. The 12th and final slide is from Bleeding Edge which does take place primarily in New York, and yet there are couple of references to California, to Paulo Alto, its a book about the internet, its a book about Silicon Alley and a couple of the characters hale from Silicon Valley. So it is a book with its California points of tangency but I think I would be quicksodic though not for the first time in calling it a California novel. However, there is an allusion to this citys greatest glory which you can see in one final WPA photograph. Actually, I think its time to go check the library. Thomas Pynchon Bleeding Edge a beautiful rotund of the Los Angeles Public Library just down the hall and up the stairs. Thanks very much.