Dream Maps

From The New York Times:

Dream IN “Against the Day,” his sixth, his funniest and arguably his most accessible novel, Thomas Pynchon doles out plenty of vertigo, just as he has for more than 40 years. But this time his fevered reveries and brilliant streams of words, his fantastical plots and encrypted references, are bound together by a clear message that others can unscramble without mental meltdown. Its import emerges only gradually, camouflaged by the sprawling absurdist jumble of themes that can only be described as Pynchonesque, over the only time frame Pynchon recognizes as real: the hours (that stretch into days) it takes to relay one of his sweeping narratives, hours that do “not so much elapse as grow less relevant.”

In “Against the Day,” Pynchon’s voice seems uncharacteristically earnest. He interrupts his narrative from time to time to lay down pronouncements that, taken together, probably constitute the fullest elaboration of his philosophy yet seen in print. One of the novel’s idées fixes is that mysterious agents are trying to send messages to individuals and to humanity at large in surprising ways: through bloody detonations of shells or dynamite I.E.D.’s (think of this as percussive Morse code that explodes into shrapnel as it’s received); a tornado nicknamed Thorvald that students attempt to communicate with by telegraph; garrulous whirls of ball lightning; coal gas (people wear special headsets to interpret the fumes and hang upside down to inhale messages through their stoves); and massive explosions on the level of the Tunguska Event or Hiroshima, which may be the footprints of angels, communicating through murder on a cataclysmic scale. In a singularly disturbing imaginative leap, he seems to make a ghoulish association with the gas chambers of the Holocaust.

More here.