Former Shows & Episodes

Word Patriots

Mark Seinfelt

Word Patriots – Kress on Pynchon

This episode of Word Patriots is devoted to the fiction of the enigmatic prose virtuoso Thomas Pynchon, the author of such seminal works as “The Crying of Lot 49,” which the “New York Times” characterized as a “streamlined doomsday machine,” and which deals with a world-wide conspiracy involving the forging of stamps and ancient books and the placing of post horn images all over San Francisco and features a flamboyant cast of weirdly named characters—Hilarius, Mucho, Driblette, Fallopian, Pierce Inverarity and Oedipa Maas; “V,” that huge crazy quilt and acid trip of a novel detailing the madcap and zany adventures of Profane and Stencil and the neurotic intellectual coterie known as the Whole Sick Crew and which touches on such diverse and abstruse subjects as German colonialism in South-West Africa and the long and involved history of the Isle of Malta; the monumental “Gravity’s Rainbow” which begins with the sentence “A screaming comes across the sky,” is set in the last days of World War Two when German V-2 rockets are raining down on London and which is regarded as one of the most important—if also one of the most difficult—books of the second half of the 20th century; and the more recent sprawling and bawdy “Mason Dixon,” Pynchon’s reinvention of the lives of the famed pair of 18th century British surveyors. My guest is Dave Kress. Dave is a professor of fiction writing, contemporary literature, and literary theory at the University of Maine in Orono and is himself the author of three stunning and unconventional works of fiction “Counting Zero,” “Martians,” and “Hush.” The Exhibition X Fiction series at the University of Buffalo characterizes his work as follows: “Whether working in a short or long form, Kress operates at the logic of the sentence, each new line making unruly and ranging connections that create an unprecedented logic all of their own. His fiction, in this regard might be described as ‘viral’ in nature: growing and mutating, generating unprecedented connections that work to challenge and undermine his readers’ defenses, their ideas about the world we live in. His fiction takes risks without neglecting the elegant sentence: he tackles difficult issues without making them ever appear internecine or abstruse.” Dave is also contributing editor on two volumes of Harold Bloom’s Major Novelists Comprehensive Research and Study Guides, the books on Pynchon, and Italo Calvino. The volumes are designed to present biographical, critical and bibliographical information on the author and critical analysis of the writer’s most important works, tracing significant themes, patterns and motifs in each work as well as providing an annotated list of characters in the author’s books. If you would like to know more about my books, please visit my website: Please also visit the Google book page for Bloom and Kress’ “Thomas Pynchon”: