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The Crying of Lot 49 is a mixture of conspiracy and puzzle-like intrigue without much foundation beyond vague suspicion—it’s paranoia.  Oedipa is on a quest for meaning and we, the reader, tag along.  We witness her “growing obsession, with ‘bringing something of herself’—even if that something was just her presence” (84).  And we don’t quite know if there is much meaning to it all.  Perhaps it’s one big joke.  Or perhaps she has truly stumbled onto something and all her world now crumbles as a consequence.  Oedipa follows every breadcrumb left before her, taking bits and assuming a greater whole.  We are subject to the same dense assortment of crumbs: Thomas Pynchon leaves various intriguing trails before us, names that imply deeper meaning or merely humorous asides, and sidetrack stories and characters who seemingly do not matter in the end—in reading The Crying of Lot 49 we either follow the mystery, finding meaning in the text, or move on and assume Pynchon’s just toying with us (which may be the case).  All the while leading to the big finish, the actual crying of lot 49, where neither Oedipa nor the reader receive concrete resolution.  “Either Trystero did exist, in its own right, or it was being presumed, perhaps fantasied by Oedipa, so hung up on and interpenetrated with the dead man’s estate” (104).  Who knows.

–Ruben Rodriguez