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What seemed like the beginning of a story about a lonely housewife, where her days “seemed more or less identical”, quickly shifted into a detective-like story that follows a scattered pattern with more, less drastic, shifts in direction. Thomas Pychon’s choice in having the narrator flash-forward to instances that happen later on in the story, within a couple sentences, also adds to this jumpy pattern. However, this technique drew me to the quote on page 10, which reads “[a]s things developed, she was to have all manner of revelations. Hardly about Pierce Inverarity, or herself; but about what remained yet had somehow, before this, stayed away”. This, specifically the last part, reminds me of a riddle, one that I imagine Pychon won’t give us, the reader, an answer to, given his unpredictable style. Oedipa’s sense of place, like the pattern, or lack thereof, of The Crying of Lot 49, is “out of focus”, and she jumps from role to role. She starts off as a seemingly powerless and inexperienced character, who feels the need to escape, possibly from the restricting security the “tower” mentioned represents or from the “formless magic” she relies on to “keep her where she is”. However, “having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this… to understand how it works, to measure its field strength, count its lines of force”, Oedipa’s drive for personal, philosophic answers aren’t explored—she leaves it up in the air. So, instead, her focus is on her ex-lover’s case, by duty, and she flops between roles: the housewife, the flirt, the inquisitor for the case. Similarly, Metzger and his friend Manny Di Presso switch between being actors and lawyers. The Paranoids also play roles. And, finally, San Narciso sets up the chaos of mixed signals, especially through its secret mailing service. But, I still have half of the book waiting for me; and, the “riddle” concerning Oedipa’s revelations is still unclear…

-Stefania Hernandez

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