Five Card Story: How I met Thomas Pynchon...

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a Five Card Flickr story by Hal Incandenza created Jun 01 2022, 07:48:58 pm. Create a new one!

flickr photo credits: (1) Serenae (2) bionicteaching (3) Serenae (4) bionicteaching (5) bionicteaching

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If you've never heard of Thomas Pynchon, he's one the most reclusive novelists of our time. He writes (mostly) very long and difficult novels that are often discussed and rarely read. He's semi-famous...he even appeared (in animated form) as a guest on The Simpsons with a bag on his head (to protect his anonymity, although no photos exist of him after his 20's. He's now 85 years old).

Few people know his exact whereabouts...except me.

Growing up, there was a house on the top of a hill in my little town. The other kids said a creepy old man lived there, who never left his house. My dad told me it was actually the residence of Thomas Pynchon. He said sometimes Pynchon would make a rare appearance at the local elderly care home to read sections of his new, not yet published, work, (talk about a captive audience!). He would frequently wear a brown wig and polo shirt, in efforts to avoid discovery.

My dad said Pynchon would sometimes drop into town to feed the pigeons, accompanied by a quiet little girl who never showed her face. Rumor had it the little girl was his granddaughter, abandoned by Pynchon's estranged son.

When I was 15 I read Pynchon's most celebrated novel, Gravity's Rainbow. I was fascinated by the author's obvious intelligence but, to this day, still have no idea what the book was about. I had signed up to do a book report on the novel for class, but had no idea what to say, so I built up the courage to simply knock on the author's door and ask him, "what gives?".

It felt like I knocked for hours, but the door never opened. Exasperated, I yelled, "I know you're in there Pynchon!! Open the goddamned door! All I need is a brief Cliff's Notes version of one of your novels! Otherwise, I'll fail this class!"

I saw him peek through one of the windows and give me the middle finger. I'd had enough. On the porch, at my feet, was a rock with one of those Angry Birds painted on its surface. I'm guessing his granddaughter painted it. Everyone was into that Angry Birds game back then.

Without thinking, I picked it up and threw it right through his window. It was out of character for me to do such a thing, but 10th grade is stressful for everyone.

As I stood on the author's porch, ashamed at my own desperation (and vandalism!). The door slowly creaked open and the man himself stood before me, I've never seen an octogenarian so mad. He said, "You broke my window, with a damned Angry Bird". To which I replied, "You flipped me the bird first"!

"Well..", said the esteemed author, "I suppose one angry bird begets another." And that's how I met the semi-famous reclusive author Thomas Pynchon. True story.

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flickr photo credits: (1) Serenae (2) bionicteaching (3) Serenae (4) bionicteaching (5) bionicteaching

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