By Carolyn Kellogg
7:21 PM EST, January 4, 2013
What's that, you say? America's most reclusive author, Thomas Pynchon, appeared in the news Friday -- not once but twice? Why, yes, yes, he has, surfacing in two unconnected rumors. Conspiracy? Pynchonian? Maybe we should henceforth designate Jan. 4 as Thomas Pynchon Rumor Day.
Rumor 1: Pynchon has a new novel coming this fall titled "Bleeding Edge." The news was announced by the Washington Post's Ron Charles on Twitter Friday morning, to much Internet enthusiasm. Pynchon's publisher, the Penguin Press, has not responded to our request for comment, but Charles says he confirmed the news of the book with two separate parties at Penguin. Because Charles is an upstanding guy (bacon on his head notwithstanding), we'll estimate the chances of the rumor's truthfulness are about 80%.
Rumor 2: Pynchon "may be working" on the film adaptation of his novel "Inherent Vice" with director Paul Thomas Anderson. That's from the New York Daily News, which gleaned its information from between the lines of an article in the "Oscars Issue" of the New York Times. In a piece on Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Oscar contender "The Master," the paper asked about Anderson's "Inherent Vice" adaptation. "This is the first authorized adaptation of a Pynchon work, which suggests that Mr. Pynchon, famously reclusive, is cooperating in some fashion," wrote reporter Dennis Lim.
Clearly, Pynchon did cooperate in one way -- he agreed to the novel being optioned. Anything beyond that is conjecture. Yet the Daily News ratchets up the rumor mill, writing, "It looks like Thomas Pynchon may be collaborating with Paul Thomas Anderson on the production of 'Inherent Vice,' " as if Pynchon at this very moment could be found at Jerry's Deli, talking casting choices with Anderson.
Anderson declined to speak on the record about any Pynchon involvement -- or any non-involvement. The New York Times piece is confusing: "Mr. Anderson, a fan of that author since his teenage years, declined to speak on the record about him and seemed loath even to utter his name. 'I would get dangerously close to betraying trust,' he said." Look closely, and that quote is pretty far removed from any context -- what was the question, exactly?
It's not as if Pynchon has shunned Hollywood entirely -- he did appear, as a cartoon character wearing a paper bag over its head, on "The Simpsons." More recently, he provided the voice-over for the trailer for the book version of "Inherent Vice," sounding a lot like its stoned detective Doc Sportello. The chances of him being actually involved in the production of a movie adaptation? Let's say less than 30%.Any other Pynchon rumors out there? The day isn't over yet.
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