Customer Reviews for

The Crying of Lot 49

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

A Witty and Refreshing Must-Read

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a mystery that is equally as witty as it is intriguing. Set in the chaotic cultural collision that was the 1960's, the novel's protagonist, Oedipa Maas, is strung through a plot bursting with conspiracy, paranoia, and insanity. ...
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a mystery that is equally as witty as it is intriguing. Set in the chaotic cultural collision that was the 1960's, the novel's protagonist, Oedipa Maas, is strung through a plot bursting with conspiracy, paranoia, and insanity. Pynchon's clever puns and use of satire are whimsical and refreshing, and add an air of lightness to the text with the humor they bring. The Crying of Lot 49 is a short novel that openly breaks from the conventions of the typical detective story, and instead provides the reader with the aftermath of a society in crisis. The plot opens with the female protagonist, Oedipa Maas, seemingly trapped in the excruciating monotony of a life reduced to gardening and fixing evening cocktails for her depressive husband. The only momentary interruptions in the tedium that is her life are provided by phone calls from her psychiatrist, Dr. Hilarious, pressuring her to experimentally ingest LSD, and her industrial tycoon ex-boyfriend Pierce Inverarity, who's late night prank calls include a variety of racially inappropriate impressions. One evening, after returning home from a party, Oedipa finds a letter which informs her that she has been made executor of her ex-boyfriend, Pierce Inverary's will. After accepting the request, Oedipa leaves her husband and sedative lifestyle to execute the will. Upon leaving, Oedipa finds herself on the road to a personal revelation she is unable to fully perceive, as well as a mystery she is equally as immune to deciphering. The ambiguous symbol of a muted horn follows Oedipa throughout her journey, prompting her to investigate the source and meaning of its whereabouts. Throughout her inquiry to understand the purpose of the symbol, Oedipa discovers potential secret-organizations, conspiracies, or possibly just her own insanity's bizarre manifestations. Throughout the course of the novel, Oedipa journeys from southern to northern California, through a seemingly endless maize of equally as trivial connections to the symbol. Oedipa is left wondering whether her quest is to exposing an elaborate secret society, a joking conspiracy left plotted by her ex-boyfriend Inverarity to plague her, or if she is out of touch with reality. Pynchon fills the text with satirical portrayals of the 60's culture, including a teenage hippie group called "The Paranoids", LSD driven insanity, and anti-government associations, all of which propel Oedipa further into her roundabout investigation of the symbol. As cleverly intended by Pynchon, the reader, as well as Oedipa, is hopelessly left to sift through the unraveled evidence trying to distinguish any reality from all the chaos. The Crying of Lot 49 is a must for the bookshelves of any modern reader.

posted by Maisie_Fullerton on May 15, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Not for me

I finally read this because I¿ve never yet managed to complete a Thomas Pynchon story. I managed to finish this novel only because it¿s short. I¿m left confused about many things, but not about this: I enjoy interesting and different books, but books loaded with pretent...
I finally read this because I¿ve never yet managed to complete a Thomas Pynchon story. I managed to finish this novel only because it¿s short. I¿m left confused about many things, but not about this: I enjoy interesting and different books, but books loaded with pretentious intellectualism bore me to death.

There¿s story-telling (which entertains and moves its readers) and there¿s word play. ¿The Crying of Lot 49¿ clearly falls in the last category and, while it might provide many readers with a satisfying read, I find the weirdness too weird, the ¿cleverness¿ too clever for its own good and the deliberate manipulation of names, references and language constructs silly. Is Pynchon actually laughing at us, the readers, who swoon at his ¿brilliance¿? Either that or, like Sacha Baron Cohen of the dreadful movie ¿Borat¿ fame, Pynchon is a sad man with a rather warped and gloomy view of the world.

As a reader, I want more to a novel than pretentious intellectualism posing as literature. I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres and styles, fiction and non-fiction. I don¿t care what I read ¿ as long as it¿s good writing and keeps me engaged.

Despite the occasional glimpse of what could attract people to this story (for example, Mucho & Oedipa¿s obsessions apparently suggesting ordinary folks¿ obsessive need to believe in some kind of reality and order ¿ I say ¿apparently,¿ because I¿m not entirely sure I ¿got it¿), Pynchon¿s writing required too much effort to make any sort of sense to me.

Perhaps that was the point of the difficult, delirious writing style: that, despite modern technology supposedly assisting mankind in communicating, Mucho & Oedipa (representing the average human) were still unable to communicate with each other. This novel, far from solving this dilemma, exacerbated it!

It does have its moments of post-modernist epiphany (modern life is uncertain; there is no guarantee of a happy ending), but I¿m a reader who prefers a more traditional (and optimistic!) form of story-telling and will leave Pynchon¿s existential explorations of an entropic society to those readers who prefer ¿high literature.¿

posted by Judy_Croome on November 24, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2001

    I'll never look at stamps in the same way again

    This is by far Pynchon's most easily enjoyable novel, but you still get the Pynchon trademark complexity and innuendo. Honestly, I give it 4 and 1/2 stars. The first chapter by itself is worth the price of admission, as it is one of the funniest things I have read in quite some time. The most impressive thing about the book, however, is the way that Mr. Pynchon has turned the traditional detective story into the ultimate microcosm in a completely unprecedented and unique way, without the over-indulgence of, say, Gravity's Rainbow. While it could be a better or lesser novel than G.R., it's about as dense a novel as any other authors attempt (especially in the era of Grisham, Koontz, et. al.) and that means that you are going to spend more time pondering the novel than reading it. It's worth the effort though, because the themes Pynchon explores are ever-present and while they aren't necessarily new, they are expressed in a truly goundbreaking manner.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    Almost there...

    I have read the book twice (maybe three times), and each time I read it I like it more - mostly because it is starting to make sense. If Oedipa Maas thinks she is confused about this conspiracy, try reading about it - especially the final section in which Pynchon gives historical information. There are times though when the writing is powerful, lyrical, and comical - all at the same time. Mayvbe, when I read the novel again I will like it even more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2001

    So confusing, YOU might end up crying...

    Though spectacularly dificult to follow 90% of the time, and just as confusing as an older person talking about life before the internet the other 10%, this was quite a creative read. Complicated language, multi-layered languid prose and a mystery make for an interesting compilation. After reading, I think that anyone can associate themself with Oedipa, the heroine. This fact is the mark of any good novel: the audience's ability to relate and empathize with the protagonist. I definitely recommend reading 2+ times, however, as to read it only once would be to view a Picasso with a quick furtive glance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2014

    The Crying of Lot 49 written by Thomas Pynchon was first publish

    The Crying of Lot 49 written by Thomas Pynchon was first published in 1966. It is an excellent mystery novel that not only makes you think, but also makes you want to keep reading. One major reason it keeps you on your toes is that once one problem is resolved, another one follows. For example, when the main character Oedipa has an affair when visitng San Narcisco she feels very guilty at first. She soon forgives herself, however, the problem of who killed her ex-boyfriend comes about. The author's style and word use also makes this a very interesting novel. Thomas Pynchon uses a lot of figurative language and really keeps the reader into the book. All in all, The Crying of Lot 49 is an excellent novel that never fails to keep the reader on their toes because of the writer's excellent use of suspense as well as the buildup of problems in the book.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    Difficult read, but worth the effort

    Loaded with obscure social references, ambiguity, confusion, and a mix of lies and truth, this is a challenging read. But it sticks with for a while, as some of what you have read slowly starts to sink in. Very tough to read and figure out right away, but worth the effort.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2007

    A Must Read for any Teen

    There is only one thing that keeps me engaged in a book and that is if I'm able to connect with the book. All of the illusions kept me laughing and constantly kept me thinking while reading the book. Although I have never been in the middle of a great conspiracy, I was able to relate to Oedipa's quest. It seems as though she was changed in away she never imagined possible. I would definitely recommend this book to a teenager because adolescence is a time of searching and this book is able to aid in that process with the right touch of comedy to keep the reader yearning for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2000

    A wonderfully confusing book!

    A young elementary school teacher told me about this book a few years ago, and I read it with great pleasure. Pynchon's story is at times cluttered and confusing, but the way it comes together in the end (much like Vonnegut's 'Cat's Cradle') makes it worthwile. Oed has a sexual journalist feel to her character and her inquisitiveness fuels this books creative drive...great book all over!

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    Posted October 16, 2012

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    Posted May 17, 2010

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    Posted April 29, 2009

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    Posted July 2, 2009

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