Four: Get a Guidebook

01.02: Slow Learner

In which we begin our discussion of Mr. Pynchon’s short story collection Slow Learner. First we talk about the Introduction, the only extant Pynchon-on-Pynchon writing available, and then move to the first short story, “The Small Rain.”


In “The Small Rain,” the hurricane that has recently passed through southern Louisiana is hurricane Audrey. Here are a few informational links:

A 1957 newsreel about the devastation: (YouTube)

Historical photographs from Cameron Parish, Louisiana, where Lardass Levine would have watched the corpses loaded onto barges.

Information from the National Weather Service’s site.

4 thoughts on “Four: Get a Guidebook

  1. I can’t wait to hear you address my favorite of these stories: “Under the Rose.” It should of course be compared directly—and at some length, I hope—with the V. chapter 3 “In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations.” Golly but both are beautiful. I’m sure someone’s done a dissertation on the twain.

    1. Well…we opted to save our discussion of Under the Rose until we discuss V at some point in the future. So there’ll be a longer wait on that than you might expect. But we’ll get to it.

  2. When addressing V. watch for points of erasure. Where is P holding back the obvious V-material he later used instead in GR? Perhaps he mapped out both books, in part anyway, while he was still in the Navy—V1 and V2—and then groped after the full, dreamily-apprehended form for years. The whole of our Cold War culture must have crackled with the aura of the metaphorical migraine that was GR. Mightn’t the medics have trepanned the poor man and relieved the pressure that way?

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