Sunday, November 07, 2004


It's a novel. We're reading it in our Scottish Lit class. I'm 25 pages into it, and already I can tell it's going to be one of those novels.

Throughout my twenties most of the fiction I read was written by really smart white guys. My favorite writer, I claimed, was Thomas Pynchon. I say "claimed" because while technically that's whose writing seemed most intriguing, what I most enjoyed about Pynchon was saying my favorite writer was Pynchon. That is, when you're playing the Name Game with other English majors (or whoever), saying "Pynchon" is more or less like pulling a gun.

The Name Game's rules:

1. It must be played in a public place where others can easily overhear. A hallway in your local university's English building is good. Airport lounges are great. Coffeehouses are ideal.

2. Mentioning an intellectual movement from Europe results in extra points.

3. Mentioning Nicholas Evans or Robert Waller results in immediate disqualification. Other authors too numerous to mention here result in loss of turn, but not disqualification.

4. Each party's turn shall consist of A) Restating which novel the Game is referencing, B) naming one author the novel in question reminds them of, and C) supplying evidence, preferably found in writing style, use of metaphor, or intellectual movement (see Rule #2).

5. The party naming the most authors and/or intellectual movements before the conversation turns to either party's own writing wins.

I've come to realize the Name Game is usually a vehicle for insecure people to show off their compendium of knowledge. Which is fine, except the same people would likely snort at the idea of buying your first Nick Drake CD after seeing a Volkswagen commercial. This whole attitude is why I stopped trying to talk about jazz with anyone.

But I digress.

Participants in the Name Game usually have an unspoken baseline; there's writing (Stephen King), there's writing (Martin Amis), and then there's Thomas Pynchon, where weird and often unexplained phenomena may or may not be a metaphor for something more profound, and whose omniscient narrator may or may not be kidding. Which is exactly what's happening in Lanark.

25 pages down, 535 to go.


Blogger Leta said...

Is it pronounced "La-nark" or "Lan-ark"?

7:17 PM  

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