Mason & Dixon Reviews

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08/15/97 - Commonweal - Frank McConnell: "I've never been any good at keeping secrets. So: Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon is not only the most stunning novel I've read in the last twenty years, but one of the most stunning novels I've read, comma, period. At this point I think we can safely argue that the radiant center of American fiction is inhabited by only three characters, Melville, Faulkner, and Pynchon, and I'm not too sure about Melville, and ! left out the unapproachable Henry James only because he didn't really want to be American. So am I telling you that if you don't read Mason & Dixon your life will be, by that measure, impoverished? You bet. But of course most of you won't — or at least you won't finish it. It's long, by which I mean long; it's involuted, convoluted, self-referential — it's Thomas Pynchon — and it has, as all of Pynchon's novels, virtually no plot. It is, simply, magnificent."

07/97 - The Atlantic Monthly - Rick Moody: "This is just the kind of truth that we often encounter in Pynchon: not simply what it means, finally, to be American — kith and kin of slaveholders and abolitionists, racists and liberals, the powerful and the powerless, the dispossessed and the rapacious, the oppressed and the oppressors — but that the boundary lines that have been surveyed to separate our American dichotomies, the boundaries of rhetoric and philosophy, are arbitrary, tentative, unwritten in human nature."

06/12/97 - The New York Review of Books Louis Menand: "By appropriating the loose and baggy forms of Sterne and Swift, Pynchon has found an ideal vehicle for his meditation on the worlds that were lost, and the suffering that was caused, just so people could understand one another better. He has produced a work of cultural anthropology, a Tristes Tropiques of North American civilization, and an astonishing and wonderful book."

06/97 - Electronic Book Review - Elizabeth Jane Wall Hinds: "Beyond the "factual" history, what Mason & Dixon more elegantly delivers is a history re-imagined, an alternative to recorded history, in the form of what one might call the "paranormal": reading Mason & Dixon is like a visit to Charles Wilson Peale's museum, itself an eighteenth-century creation, with its oddities and "freaks of nature" just close enough to verifiable facticity to look believable..."

05/18/97 - New York Times Book Review - T. Coraghessan Boyle: "This is the old Pynchon, the true Pynchon, the best Pynchon of all. Mason & Dixon is a groundbreaking book, a book of heart and fire and genius, and there is nothing quite like it in our literature, except maybe V. and Gravity's Rainbow."

05/04/97 - Toronto Star - Judith Fitzgerald: "With a doff of its cap to such as Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Lowry's Under the Volcano, The Iliad and The Vanity of Human Wishes (Dr. Johnson), Pynchon's doughty duo first hits South Africa's Capetown and St. Helena in order to observe and calibrate the 1751 Transit of Venus before landing in America and turning its astronomical skills to terrestrial cartography, namely the painstaking task of determining the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland (which, by the stars, puts the house of one unhappily married couple in two states, a serendipitous blessing in the opinion of all concerned)."

04/29/97 - New York Times - Michiko Kakutani: "As rendered by Pynchon, Mason & Dixon is not simply the story of these two men's intertwined lives and their personal search for knowledge. It's also a hugely ambitious epic about America and the Age of Reason and the origins of modernity that showcases all of Pynchon's prodigious gifts as a writer: his magician's ability to fuse history and fable, science and science fiction; his Swiftean grasp of satire and his vaudevillian's sense of farce. It is a book that testifies to his remarkable powers of invention and his sheer power as a storyteller, a storyteller who this time demonstrates that he can write a novel that is as moving as it is cerebral, as poignant as it is daring."

04/27/97 - San Francisco Chronicle Paul Skenazy: "It's a book content to ask more questions than it answers -- about what the West has always signified, what it means to map and shape the unruly earth, how we enslave and seek redemption in the same breath. For all of Pynchon's artistic skills with novelistic structure, he's always resisted closure and consistency. For all his intellectual breadth and associative elegance, his talents show themselves in pieces, lines and word play that resurrect cliches and turn asides into aphorisms."

Mason & Dixon Alpha Guide
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