For a while, I fantasized about the idea that Thomas Pynchon I was a woman. Why not? There was no one who believed that his name was nothing more than a name behind which they hid who knew what other writers? He told me that, after all, his most famous novel, The rainbow of gravityit was a great phallic joke, and that his female characters were always superior to the male ones, and that their stories, although twisted and wonderfully digressive, were also fascinating sitcoms, with a certain component weird of comedy of entanglement family, always acid, hilarious. Reasons that, obviously, did not have to point in a single direction because we all know that gender does not exist when you write, that the writer is the son of your readings, and so was the writer, but I had fun thinking about what could happen after his death if the thing was like that. Would not it be nice, he told me, that when he died, who the hell was he, and having been considered the best writer of all postmodern times, it was discovered that, in reality, he had been a woman?
"Yes, it would have been fine," he told me, after explaining my theory, the also postmodern and great Robert Coover – from whom these days Pale Fire recovers his first and brilliant novel, The origin of the brunistas -, "but I can assure you that Pynchon is not a woman," he added. Is there, then, a Thomas Pynchon? One of flesh and blood, one that is not a container of other names? I wanted to know next. He nodded. And was he the type of the photograph? The one with the rabbit teeth and the marine cap? The one of the toupee and the aspect of nerd of institute whose steps the Dubini brothers had followed in the most curious documentary A Journey Into the Mind of P.? It was, yes, he told me. "We are not exactly friends but I know him, I have seen him on more than one occasion and I know that he meets with friends writers and it costs them nothing to see him, he is a very accessible guy," he added. Of the most accessible? Last October, the always Nobel candidate László Krasznahorkai was in Madrid, and confirmed that premise. Because in addition to visiting the Student Residence, and talking about his work, behind the scenes, the Hungarian writer confessed an intimate of "Tom", as he called him, and said that, indeed, "Tom" was alive in New York Like any pensioner.
That is, he went to the movies, to the bookstores, that he went out to dinner with his wife, Melanie Jackson, and that he stayed with his friends. I remembered then that Martin Amis he had also mentioned on one occasion having attended meetings in New York coffee shops with a small collection of writers who included him. I understood that it was Pynchon himself who organized them, bored with his, I thought then, disappearance. But had Pynchon disappeared? When this week the National Enquirer, magazine, before merely sensationalist – with headlines that prayed A woman boils her baby and then eats it -, now ridiculously pink, published the first picture of Pynchon in 20 years, and one of the only four that have circulated in more than half a century of career – published V. in 1963 – boasting of achievement – "It was amazing! It is almost the same plane as the previous photograph! He was also with his son then! ", Says the photographer in the minimum note that accompanies the images – I thought it was ridiculous.
In the photograph, Thomas Pynchon wears a black jacket and a cane. Trousers with pockets at mid-length and white sneakers that look like the kind of sneakers that an octogenarian would be at home. He also wears round-framed glasses that look like pince-nez. He sports an abundant white mane and a well-groomed white beard. He is an older man who has left home with his son, reporters say, to go to vote. It is, I also think, a hunting trophy, something to write down in who knows what blackboard, because, I tell myself, it was never difficult to find Pynchon. There was nothing more to do than what the National Enquirer reporters did. Speak with booksellers, with doormen, with neighbors. Follow your son Jackson. To his wife Melanie. Hit with it, score the goal. And after that? After, nothing. What is a photograph if not one more piece of the puzzle that Pynchon himself has made of his elusive figure? James Joyce said he had put so many puzzles and riddles in the Ulises that he was going to keep the teachers busy "for centuries", arguing about what he had wanted to say. That was the only way, he said, to secure immortality. In that sense, one would say that Pynchon, as a mythological being, acts in itself, is its own Ulises. Perhaps the only writer who will never eclipse any of his works. So, unfortunately, despite the proud reporters of the National Enquirer, their hunting trophy is a hunting trophy (disrespectfully) lesser.