For a time, I fantasized about the idea of Thomas Pynchon being a woman. Why not? Wasn’t there someone who believed that his name was nothing more than a name behind which who knew what other writers were hiding? He told me that his most famous novel after all, The rainbow of gravity, it was a great phallic joke, and that his female characters were always superior to his male ones, and that his stories, while twisted and wonderfully digressive, were also fascinating sitcoms, with a certain component weird family sitcom, always sour, hilarious. Reasons that obviously did not have to point in a single direction because we all know that gender does not exist when it is written, that the writer is the child of his readings, and the same is the writer, but it amused me to think about what could happen after his death if it were so. Wouldn’t it be nice, he told me, if when he died, who the hell he was, and having been considered the best writer of all postmodern times, it was discovered that he had actually been a woman?
“Yes, it would have been good”, after explaining my theory, the also postmodern and brilliant Robert Coover – from whom these days Pálido Fuego recovers his first and brilliant novel, said The origin of the brunistas -, “but I can assure you that Pynchon is not a woman,” he added. So is there a Thomas Pynchon? One of flesh and blood, one that is not a container of other names? I wanted to know next. He nodded. And was it the guy in the photograph? The one with the buck teeth and the marine cap? The one with the toupee and the look of nerd high school whose footsteps the Dubini brothers had followed in the curious documentary A Journey Into the Mind of P.? It was, yes, he told me. “We are not exactly friends but I know him, I have seen him on more than one occasion and I know that he meets with writer friends and that it is not difficult for them to see him, he is a most accessible type,” he added. Of the most accessible? Last October, the ever-aspiring Nobel Prize winner László Krasznahorkai was in Madrid, and confirmed this premise. Because in addition to visiting the Student Residence, and talking about his work, behind the scenes, the Hungarian writer confessed to an intimate of “Tom”, as he called him, and affirmed that, indeed, “Tom” was living in New York like any retiree.
That is to say, that he went to the movies, to the bookstores, that he went out to dinner with his wife, Melanie Jackson, and that he stayed with his friends. I remembered then that Martin Amis had also once mentioned having attended meetings in New York coffee shops with a small collection of writers that included him. I understood that it was Pynchon himself who organized them, bored with his, I thought then, disappearance. But was Pynchon missing? When this week the National Enquirer, once merely sensational magazine – with headlines that read A woman boils her baby and then eats it -, now ridiculously pink, posted the first photo of Pynchon in 20 years, and one of only four to have circulated in more than half a century of career – posted V. in 1963 – boasting of achievement – “It was amazing! It is almost the same plane of the previous photograph! He was also with his son then! ”, Says the photographer in the slightest note that accompanies the images – I thought it was ridiculous.
In the photograph, Thomas Pynchon is wearing a black jacket and a cane. Trousers with mid-calf pockets and white sneakers that look like the kind of sneakers an octogenarian would be at home in. He also wears round-rimmed glasses that look like kevedos. He sports abundant white hair and a neat white beard. He is an older man who has left home with his son, reporters say, to vote. It is, I also think, a hunting trophy, a bit to score on who knows what board, because, I tell myself, it was never difficult to find Pynchon. You just had to do what the National Enquirer reporters did. Talk to booksellers, doormen, neighbors. Follow your son Jackson. To his wife Melanie. Find him, score the goal. And after that? After, nothing. What is a photograph if not one more piece of the puzzle that Pynchon himself has made of his elusive figure? James Joyce said that he had put so many riddles and riddles in the Ulises that he was going to keep the teachers busy “for centuries”, arguing about what he had meant. That was the only way, he said, to ensure immortality. In this sense, it would seem that Pynchon, as a mythological being, works in himself, is his own Ulises. Perhaps the only writer who will never be overshadowed by any of his works. So, despite the proud reporters of the National Enquirer, his hunting trophy is a (disrespectfully) minor hunting trophy.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.