November 22, 2007
Pynchon pulls off a remarkable sleight of hand in "Against The Day". Having spent one thousand pages hinting that the book is in accord with the basic idea of the Edwardian era as an Age of Innocence destroyed by the Great War, he spends the last 80 pages (the last 128 pages if you want to be accurate about these things) building something altogether more moving and powerful: a book not about innocence lost, but innocence retained. Maybe no more than you should expect from a sixties post-beat trapped in the court of George W, but a really beautiful statement of principle and intent nonetheless. The resistance not just to the vicious corporatism of the Scarsdale Vibes of this world but to the easy nihilism of the tired Leftist and the scared liberal, the call to (loving) arms, the final belief in solidarity and friendship, for all these reasons "Against The Day" is the most uplifting book I've read this year, in fact for years. It makes me laugh to think that some rubber-skulled critics could only see the hot air and not the clear skies above.