Jules Siegel on Pynchon’s wife

Rake’s Progress links to a Pynchon mailing list post featuring Jules Siegel’s old Playboy article, “Who is Thomas Pynchon… And Why Did He Take Off With My Wife?: Shedding a little light on the most famous author-recluse since J. D. Salinger.” (Be sure to read the second page, too.)

Among other things, Siegel claims that Pynchon had a penchant for pot and hash and that he said while rewriting Gravity’s Rainbow, “‘I was so fucked up while I was writing it …. that now I go back over some of those sequences and I can’t figure out what I could have meant.'” He also reports that his wife said, after her affair with Pynchon, that he “was a wonderful lover, sensitive and quick,” but “somewhat unworldly and bookish, easily astonished by her boldness.”

Max, a Pynchon fanatic, used to post on the list, which received approximately 6,379 messages per day from fans in the months following the publication of Mason & Dixon. I remember hearing about the Playboy article at length when it was posted but can’t find the firestorm of controversy I understood it to have generated.

Speaking of Pynchon, he once wrote an essay about sloth, “Nearer, my Couch, to Thee,” for the New York Review of Books:

Writers of course are considered the mavens of Sloth. They are approached all the time on the subject, not only for free advice, but also to speak at Sloth Symposia, head up Sloth Task Forces, testify as expert witnesses at Sloth Hearings.

Other Pynchon essays are available at The Modern Word.

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