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In The Crying of Lot 49 Thomas Pynchon plays a peculiar narrative game; Pynchon simultaneously mocks and represents postmodern skepticism through the narrative and the reader’s relationship with it.  Oedipa’s journey through the book is fueled by seemingly disparate ‘clues’ that are pulled together in a desperate attempt to uncover a coherent narrative or hidden plot.  Almost comically, Oedipa scrutinizes every minute detail- whether it be a strange word in a play or a bizarre symbol in a bathroom- that constitutes her everyday reality.  Oedipa is unable to ignore these peculiarities and thinly strings them together as an excuse to ameliorate the vapidity of her modern existence.  Similarly, I believe Pynchon loads The Crying of Lot 49 with a multitude of red herrings, forcing the reader to sift through and ultimately assign value to a variety of facts and details.  For instance, like Oedipa, the reader must decide if parsing each odd name is necessary to understanding the reality presented in the book, or if they are just random details obscuring other important truths.  I believe the work satirizes how readers structure their own realities; whether reading a book or constructing one’s personal narrative, individuals are forced to decide what is and is not important and often read too much into things in confusion.

While reading this work, I had trouble distinguishing if Pynchon mocks novels that deal with this postmodern skepticism or if he is directly addressing these disorienting issues.  Since Oedipa’s experience is particularly comical, I believe that Pynchon is playing with postmodern ideas by creating a story that humorously deals with them (and blows them completely out of proportion).  Yet, beneath this seemingly playful facade, I believe the work questions how we as readers and individuals digest and form our own personal realities.  The Crying of Lot 49 is the ultimate postmodern detective novel in that it focuses beyond the mystery that Oedipa is trying to solve into the individualized mystery that Oedipa creates in order to solve.

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