When freelance journalist Siegel searched the Internet for references to himself, he found that he had become a ""sub-set of...


LINELAND: Mortality and Mercy on the Internet's Pynchon-L@Waste-Org Discussion List

When freelance journalist Siegel searched the Internet for references to himself, he found that he had become a ""sub-set of the Thomas Pynchon industry."" Irked, he decided to engage the members of a Pyhchon mailing list in conversation about his personal relationship with the writer-recluse. Siegel had written an article for Playboy 20 years ago about an affair that his then-wife, Christine Wexler, had had with Pynchon, whom Siegel met when both were students at Cornell. The article was unique, offering a detailed look at an all-too-human writer notorious for his obsession with privacy. Siegel's plunge into Pynchon-L (the mailing list) quickly served to divide regular visitors into two camps: those hungry for gossip about the reclusive Pynchon, and those who regard the writer of Gravity's Rainbow and other novels as a kind of literary demi-god, and Siegel as a resentful despoiler of their deity. Things heat up considerably when Wexler arrives on the list and fields questions herself, ultimately pouring salt on some old wounds. Lineland ingeniously combines an original format (Siegel excerpts actual E-mail throughout the text) with just enough juicy tidbits about Pynchon--such as his early poverty despite his family's Mayflower-era roots--to satisfy the curious. The book also reveals several different sides of the Internet: a forum for academics interested in serious literary discussion; a breeding ground for Pynchonesque conspiracy theories; and a free-for-all for jerks who probably would not have the guts to say what they write (""Do you have any claim to fame . . . other than having had Pynchon bonk your wife?""). Ultimately the peacemaker, Siegel buries the hatchet with some of his attackers, and there is even a short epilogue by one of his earliest assailants. With its combination of cyber-culture and Pynchon gossip, Lineland should appeal to a variety of readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997


Page Count: 192

Publisher: "Intangible Assets (828 Ormond Ave., Drexel Hill, PA 19026)"

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997