• Against the Day

  • A Novel
  • By: Thomas Pynchon
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 53 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-01-07
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.8 (34 ratings)

Summary

"Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.
"With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred. The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.
"As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.
"Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.
"Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck."
—Thomas Pynchon
©2006 Thomas Pynchon (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
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Critic reviews

"[Pynchon's] funniest and arguably his most accessible novel." (New York Times Book Review)
"Pynchon delivers a novel that matches his most influential work, Gravity's Rainbow...in complexity, humor, and insight, and surpasses it in emotional valence....A capacious, gritty, and tender epic." (Booklist)
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Regular price: £45.99

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By P on 23-12-12

Work of genius well told

This is a towering performance of narration which perfectly compliments a fabulous work of art. It is always hard to categorise Thomas Pynchon's work but this lives up to my adoration-soaked expectations. It is joyous, darkly comic, poignant and explosive in its perceptions. It's Technicolor writing performed by a Eastman film voice. And, just to get all value-for-money on you, it's Hours of entertainment at a snip. Bold and beautiful stuff.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tashifan on 07-07-14

An epic romp through the end of an era

As always, Pynchon develops a huge caste of vivid and diverse characters who navigate through various long and convoluted plots which eventually converge together. The immerging technologies of the 20th century are well used to pepper his tale with seeming phantasmagorical happenings, leaving the reader to sometimes wonder where one is being led, only to find oneself in a recognisable place or happening of the time.
I am full of admiration for Dick Hill as narrator/navigator through this maze. He manages to give each character their own voice which well reflects their personalities, and keeps a good pace going throughout. Even so, I have been forced to re-listen to huge chunks of the book as I suddenly came down to earth and realised that I was completely and irrevocably lost!
Yes, great value for money and great fun. I was fully immersed in this wondrous tale for several weeks, in the end, and probably listened to the book more than twice by the time I had finished.
Don’t hesitate, jump in head first and enjoy!!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca Lindroos on 28-01-07

brilliant!

Against the Day is Thomas Pynchon's most recent and one of his most accessible and entertaining works. (Mason & Dixon and The Crying of Lot 49 are better books, imo, but this one is certainly a worthy addition to Pynchon's formidable oeuvre.) Dick Hill's reading makes it even better.

Taking place between 1893 and 1914 in Chicago at the Columbian Exposition and going from there to the globe, inside and out, the story involves a group of very fictional hot-air balloonists, western mines unionists and anarchists (terrorists?) and their families, tycoons and their goons, scientists, mathematicians and a whole menagerie of assorted characters some historical, some not.

The plot involves the children of slain anarchist Traverse Webb as they basically try to 1. avenge his death and 2. escape the clutches of the evil tycoon Scarsdale Vibe. Meanwhile, the Chums of Chance glide around observing from their balloon above. But that's a very, very simplified version of the intricate convolutions the plot of this encyclopedic novel takes.

The themes are the closing of the frontier and the onset of modern life, including the boom of technology and capitalist greed. Meanwhile, the common man is doomed to live under the oppression of totalitarian regimes willing to use militaristic force to ensure domination.

Different styles are used for different plots of the book varying from Dime Novel to American Western to erotica and spy novel. This is quite effective in maintaining interest throughout such a long book.

The narrator Dick Hill gives a bit of very appropriate energy and drama to the reading and although it took a few minutes to get used to the voice (as usual for me), it's obvious Hill knows and loves the material and his interpretation is "cracker-jack!" Good show!

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49 of 50 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Waterman on 03-06-07

Pynchon’s best yet!

The broadest and most joyous of this remarkable author's unique, sprawling, epic, poetic sagas. An absorbing, sometimes surreal and almost overwhelming miasma of fact, fiction and fantasy, set during the period of tumultuous advancement in thought and discovery between the 1890’s and 1920’s, and peripheral to the dark and foreboding “war to end all wars”. But even more so than his other masterful works – Gravity’s Rainbow, V, The Crying of Lot 49 – this is a positively decadent and ultimately joyous celebration of history, scientific delusion and fact, mysticism, social turmoil and evolution, love real and imagined, flight, time travel, light, energy and ultimately redemption and hope. Pitting industrial and political czars and goons, unionists, mathematicians, inventors, spiritualists, explorers, anarchists, visionaries, charlatans, airship travelers, transcendentalists - all of them basically regular folks like you and me - against and with each other. Dick Hill's narration, voicing, inflection and pace, at first seemingly quirky, are quickly found to be perfect for the material. Though some 52 hours long, it was increasingly absorbing, and ended most graciously, though I'm sorry it had to end at all. This is one for you, whoever you are.

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18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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