Let’s play the Ivyland drinking game. What you do is, you search for a review of Ivyland online, and every time they mention Pynchon you have to take a drink. Pynchon’s shadow (drink) falls on Ivyland. Pynchon’s influence (drink) is, as I believe the Troggs suggested (though they might have been talking about something else, thinking about it) ‘all around’.

Which, depending on your thoughts on Pynchon, (drink) is either a good thing or a bad thing. Happily for me, we are talking here of the Pynchon (drink) of The Crying of Lot 49, not the Pynchon (drink) of, say, Mason & Dixon. The prose is thick but the book isn’t. Ivyland weighs in at under 250 pages. This sounds like an astoundingly ignorant observation but if your method is to try to push the methodology of the short story to the length of a novel, size does matter.

Ivyland is a broken, twisted novel. When it shines, it shines gloriously, but the reader does spend time trying to weave its splintered narrative into a whole, doing long division with plotlines when they should be concentrating on the story. It is not a novel for reading in five minute bursts. It demands your attention. Chapters are headed “Last Winter” “Thirteen Years Ago” “One Year Ago” “Last Summer”. Time flickers. Landscapes bend and shift as if seen through a trick mirror. People are moulded and remoulded, viewed through pharmaceutical and philosophical filters. Plotlines embrace each other in double helixes and stretch out to the horizon.

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