Mortality and Mercy on the Internet's Pynchon-L@Waste.Org Discussion List

Jules Siegel + Christine Wexler

Intangible Assets Manufacturing 1997
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
Jules Siegel arrived online to find he was known only on pynchon-l, a list devoted to discussing the works of Thomas Pynchon: he had been Pynchon's friend in the sixties. Lineland tells the story of the somewhat stormy events that ensued when he joined pynchon-l; the bulk of it consists of edited exchanges from that list.

Now the experiences of newcomers to the Net have no great appeal for me and I'm not a Pynchon devotee, so Lineland wasn't an obvious bonus when it turned up in my postbox. (And cynics will say that it is just an attempt to cash in on the publicity surrounding Mason and Dixon.) But I really enjoyed it. The material about Pynchon and the sixties is intriguing (among other things Lineland contains the full text of the article "Who is Thomas Pynchon... and Why is He Taking Off With My Wife?", originally published in Playboy in 1977); pynchon-l is an unusually literate list (and, let's be honest, flamewars are fun); and the autobiographical thread at Lineland's core is more than capable of holding it all together. Also, while I'm not convinced by the claims that Lineland is "a new kind of book", it is certainly an creatively and attractively put together volume (Siegel did his own typography and layout).

Lighthearted and engaging, Lineland may entertain even those who don't know anything about Pynchon. Me? I'm off to have another go at Gravity's Rainbow.

June 1997

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%T Lineland
%S Mortality and Mercy on the Internet's Pynchon-L@Waste.Org Discussion List
%A Siegel, Jules
%A Wexler, Christine
%I Intangible Assets Manufacturing
%D 1997
%O paperback, index
%G ISBN 1885876041
%P xvi,166pp