Thursday, January 10, 2013

the last book I ever read (Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton, excerpt thirteen)

from Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie:

Before the deal could be signed he and Sonny needed to bury the hatchet and that was the real purpose of the New York trip. Andrew also contacted Pynchon’s agent (and wife), Melanie Jackson, and the reclusive author of Gravity’s Rainbow agreed to meet. In the end the two meetings were combined. He and Pynchon dined with Sonny at the Mehtas’ midtown apartment. The rift with Sonny was repaired with a hug and the matter of Haroun left undiscussed. That was Sonny’s taciturn way of doing things—to leave awkward things unsaid and move forward—and maybe it was for the best. Then Pynchon arrived, looking exactly as Thomas Pynchon should look. He was tall, wore a red-and-white lumberjack shirt and blue jeans, had Albert Einstein white hair and Bugs Bunny front teeth. After an initial half hour of stilted conversation Pynchon seemed to relax and then spoke at length on American labor history and his own membership, dating from his early days working as a technical writer at Boeing, of the trade union of technical writers. It was strange to think of those authors of user’s manuals being addressed by the great American novelist, whom they perhaps thought of as that fellow who used to write the safety newsletter for the supersonic CIM-10 Bomarc missile, without knowing anything about how Pynchon’s knowledge of that missile had inspired his extraordinary descriptions of the World War II V-2 rockets falling on London. The conversation went on long past midnight. At one point Pynchon said, “You guys are probably tired, huh,” and yes, they were, but they were also thinking It’s Thomas Pynchon, we can’t go to sleep.

When Pynchon finally left, he thought: Okay, so now we’re friends. When I visit New York maybe we’ll sometimes meet for a drink or a bite to eat and slowly we’ll get to know each other better.

But they never met again.

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