I remember reading an excerpt of this novel for Contemporary Fiction a couple years ago, and although I do not remember what we discussed about I do remember that I was confused by the whole thing. And after a second reading I have to say that my opinion of Pynchon and his work is not changing much.
The novel seems to be a big satire of American culture. It Introduces us to the main character who has a boring life with a husband who might not be all that sane and then breaks up her monotony. An old boyfriend dies and leaves her with part of his troubled estate. And off she goes to be an executor of a will. On the way she meets the Paranoids and discovers a vast and ancient conspiracy to send mail outside of government postal system.
This conspiracy symbolized by a muted post horn (as a side note I found a muted post horn scratched into a stall in the mens room in The basement of King Chapel) and the acronym W.A.S.T.E. consumes her. She sees the symbol everywhere and flings herself from a bathroom to a lawyer suing Pierces company to a play to Yoyodyne and in each of these disparate cases she finds a way to validate this conspiracy she has stumbled on.
It is weird because in her preoccupation with the muted post horn and W.A.S.T.E. she completely disregards a crime that is rather shocking. The looting of soldiers bones from World War II to be used to make filters for cigarets. This is something that seems highly illegal and yet all it seems to do in this novel is remind a pot smoking musician of a play that has a similar story. And instead of pursuing the real story the main character and her Paranoid Lover go see the fictional story which pushes her further into the pursuit of the conspiracy.
SO, is there any real substance to this conspiracy? Or is it like the movie 23?
And what did you think about the many characters in this book? Each one of them seems to be a critique of American society. I like the name Dr. Hilarious myself.