Inasmuch as The Crying of Lot 49 has a plot, it's about a suburban housewife, Oedipa Mass (all the characters in this book have pun-ny names like that) who, after being named the executor of her wealthy ex-boyfriend's will, discovers a secret society connected by an underground mail service. Or, she becomes a delusional paranoid. Either reading is possible.
This is a trippy book. It was written in the 60s, and it's Pynchon's shortest, but that doesn't make it a particularly easy read. I can see why it's highly regarded among the literati -- Pynchon writes imaginatively and inimitably, and the structure of the novel is deep but very straightforward. The plot, however, is not. This is the sort of book you probably have to read several times to "get." I kind of have a love-hate relationship with it after reading it -- I am not usually a big fan of literary fiction that emphasizes style over substance, but there is substance here. I'm just afraid a lot of it went over my head (and I'm usually a pretty deep reader).
Fans of conspiracy thrillers, particularly Robert Shea and Robert Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy or Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle would do well to check out The Crying of Lot 49, since it's very much in that genre, but whereas the former two are more overtly conspiratorial and science fictional, the conflict in The Crying of Lot 49 is mostly internal, involving the main character, Oedipa.
Hard to follow. I may seem to be less than an intellectual by admitting this, but after 43 pages of run-on sentences and paragraphs filling an entire page with nonsense, I chose to repost the book and move on.
I'm still on the fence as to what this book truly deserves to be rated. I think this was just one long, intentional acid trip. I understand that Pynchon wanted to be "post-modern" and bring all of the current 1960s events and icons in to join in the raucous fun as Oedipa tracked down the secret postal delivery service, W.A.S.T.E. (A big waste of time, if you ask me). I also understand that Pynchon wanted to make the point that labels didn't mean a thing and so he gave his characters names that seemed to mean something and really didn't (Dr. Hilarius, Oedipa, Inverarity, etc.). Pynchon thinks he's clever and he just isn't. He's not amusing, either.
Imagine reading a David Lynch film. Yes, reading a David Lynch film. Can you imagine it? If you dig it, read this and probably go get Gravity's Rainbow, too. If not, stay away.
Despite all of this, Pynchon effectively wrote a post-modern novel, so he was successful. He blended together a hot mess of many genres: a novel, a detective noir, a play (sick, sick, sick!), poems, and songs. Kudos, Pynchon. You still wrote a horrible book.
An intriguing read. Not the easiest to follow, but chock full of cultural reference that wind throughout the "labyrinth plot." Pynchon draws certain parallels between thermodynamic entropy and information theory. You'll either love this one or hate it LOL! Either way, it's definitely worth the read!
One of the famous new age novels. A satirical story about a lady who finds herself captured in a worldwide conspiracy.