I near the end of The Crying of Lot 49-that is, I am at the end of a reading of it-and I am arrested by an ungrammatical sentence on page 151 (click on the image to enlarge).


Paranoia wells. Is this supposed to read "…the only was she could continue," or is that "was" a misprinted "way"? Pynchon's prose has frequently proved tricky to gloss, but until this point there have been no strictly improper sentences. But, then again, Tristero has also been Trystero. Homophony. Entropy. Oedipa's husband Mucho purposefully mispronounces his wife's name, Oedipa Maas, while speaking over the radio.

"Edna Mosh?" Oedipa said.
"It'll come out the right way," Mucho said. "I was allowing for the distortion on these rigs, and then when they put it on tape" (114).

Is this Pynchon, or just Pynchoneon? Is this was/way an intentional error, "Or you are fantasizing some such plot, in which case you are a nut, Oedipa, out of your skull" (141). I glance over the shoulder of memory: Where did I buy this copy? Is someone watching me?

I think of the word iterable.

Years later, I learn one of book history's darkest myths (a true story). A scholar who productively proceeds to form an argument around what he does not realize is a misprint in his copy of Moby-Dick. He is shamed, he suffers, we learn.

My copy of Pynchon's novel might be unique. It has influenced the way I read the novel in ways perhaps no one else has experienced. It is copy-specific. Can I succeed were others have failed to make something of errors?

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