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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Chapter 39 - Material Readings

from Part III - Approaches and Readings

Summary

In a 1973 letter to book reviewer Bruce Allen, Thomas Pynchon reflects on the simultaneous publication of the first edition of Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) in two different versions: a moderately priced paperback and a very expensive hardcover. Somewhat bitterly he writes that “nobody at Viking pays any attention to me – my feeling was that the whole fucking thing ought to be paperback. The idea was to get it to people who can’t afford $15. But They had their own ideas.” Unlike most other authors, Pynchon famously abstains from participating in the marketing of his work, but his comments to Allen indicate that the manner in which his books are presented to the public is important to him, and this is confirmed by additional evidence. In a 1962 letter to Faith Sale, he expresses his dissatisfaction with the dust jacket for V. (1963), and the designer of the dust jacket for Mason & Dixon (1997), Raquel Jaramillo, has revealed that he “worked closely with her on the design of the jacket, being very fussy about the look of the type.”