New Thomas Pynchon book exists, and that’s it for now

Yeah, so the apocalypse didn’t happen after all and we’re back for 2013, and hello again, and [SEASONAL PLEASANTRY NOT FOUND]. In even more Earth-shaking news than the Mayans anticipated, however, the end of 2012 has brought with it word of an occurrence almost as rare as a planet-destroying cataclysm: A new novel from Thomas Pynchon, the iconic, near-mythic American author whose output over the past fifty years has, until now, averaged slightly fewer than one and a half novels per decade, publishing seven in total since 1963. (If you’re keeping track, that means that he’s averaged more guest appearances on The Simpsons over the past decade than he has published novels per decade over his entire career.)

Penguin Press, Pynchon’s long-time publishers, announced on Friday that a book entitled The Bleeding Edge is forthcoming and… that’s it. No synopsis. No cover. No release date. No word on whether it will join the rest of Pynchon’s recently digitised back catalogue on e-readers. Not even confirmation that the novel will, in fact, see publication in 2013. Simply confirmation that the book exists.

Given Pynchon’s usual work rate, though, even this should be enough to delight fans, this announcement coming as it does less than four years since the publication of 2009’s Inherent Vice – a gap between titles that almost matches the record-setting three years separating his debut, V. (1963), and The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) and, more recently, Against The Day (2006) and Inherent Vice. A potential three novels in seven years, however, would be unprecedented from the man who took seventeen years to follow up Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) with Vineland (1990), and a further seven after that to release Mason & Dixon (1997). Pynchon is altogether too strange and idiosyncratic to win commercial plaudits, but if past form holds, expect The Bleeding Edge to prop up a lot of critics’ year-end best-of lists come December.

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