Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thomas Pynchon Now Lives on the Upper West Side

An interesting profile by Boris Kachka follows Pynchon from his childhood on Long Island though his sojourn in Mexico on up to his present life on Manhattan's upper West Side. Some not so random, but nothing in particular, paragraphs about how he got from the California coast to Manhattan in the late 1970s:
But that book wasn’t one of the two he was contracted by Viking to write. Those were Mason & Dixon, about the surveyors, and a never-written novel about an insurance adjuster flown in to Japan to assess the damage done by Godzilla. Viking had granted him a $1 million advance, beginning with $50,000 a year for three years. In his first experiment with reclusion, Pynchon had made do on $1,000 in Mexico; now he was living on a doctor’s salary in a glorified lean-to, years out from a finished book. Having eluded the media and the narcs but not his own paranoia, Pynchon had succeeded in eschewing the machine; now what about sloth?

It took the love of Pynchon’s life to flush him out of the wilderness and back to writing, family, and New York. Melanie Jackson was a sharp and ambitious young literary agent (“the prettiest girl in publishing,” remembers an editor) when she came to work for Candida Donadio. She was also a great-granddaughter of Teddy Roosevelt (Tom Sr.’s fellow churchgoer) and a granddaughter of a Supreme Court justice—a pedigreed Protestant from a town that neighbors Oyster Bay.

Like all good agents, Donadio had been the enabler of Pynchon’s life, the most important station on his underground railroad. Donadio told others Pynchon had been staying in Donadio’s apartment (platonically) when he began dating Jackson. A dispute between Jackson and Donadio resulted in Jackson’s leaving the agency in late 1981. Her first solo client was her boyfriend, Thomas Pynchon.
H/t Tyler Cowen.

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