UnBooks:"Incoherent Overwritten Literary Trainwreck" by Thomas Pynchon

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Cover art by Jackson Pollack's corpse.

Chapter One

In which Schlemihl Slothrop—a schlemihl—deprecates himself for the readership’s amusement.

It is the Feast of St. Michael, AD 1961, and Schlemihl Slothrop finds himself wandering about an unnamed major city on the Eastern Seaboard of the American republic that probably doesn't resemble Baltimore. As is typically the case with the Feast of St. Michael, no one is entirely sure what time of year it is. As fortune has it, or rather due to an not-extremely-complicated probabilistic and topological algorithm that the margin is too narrow to contain, Slothrop comes upon the Rusty Spoon, a sumptuously crappy, Cornish-themed bar he hazily remembers that he used to frequent during his poignantly but ineptly recalled days at the since-deregistered Richard M. Nixon Hebrew University while failing to achieve a bachelor's degree in Finnish literature and jazz ballet, a perfect score in blind Burgundian croquet, or consummation of his unspoken (and unspeakable) passion for the jaw-droppingly pulchritudinous Edith H. Nostril (now unhappily married, if the trashy celebrity websites are anything to go by, to Governor J. Wacko Nervegas of Long Island, a monumentally corrupt and sinister figure in several shadowy cabals rumoured to be linked to the CIA, the Baptist Church, and an Yugoslavian noodle cartel). In a mild fit of impulse which he later, and somewhat inexplicably, blames on the erratically functioning vermillion neon sign of the Tibetan pet shop several blocks away, Slothrop enters his erstwhile juvenile haunt and immediately experiences a sensory wave of regret, nostalgia, and revulsion.

“Mmuughh!” sez a guy in a borsht-stained pink tuxedo, a fluorescent green deer-stalker, and patent leather stilettos. Vomiting his Busch draft at Slothrop the schlemihl’s vinyl moccasin-shod feet.

“Fuckin’ great,” sez Slothrop, with a mixture of pique, ennui, and deja vu.

The odor, hue, and consistency of the aforesaid barf suggest that its unfortunate regurgitator, and Slothrop's unwelcome new acquaintance, as well as the amber fluid, has just partaken of a meal at the Burmese Kosher pizzeria across the street. Once famous for being the site of the alien abduction of Bernardo Hussein McSmith, the boss of the Tyrolese mafia in Salt Lake City. Unknown to Slothrop, the drunk, who is now wiping his mouth clean with a paisley handkerchief, is a forensic telepath who has just returned from conducting black ops for the US Mail in Winnipeg.

In the background—for no discernible reason—there are a band of drunken twentysomethings, playing sackbut, nose-flute, and bagpipe, and singing:

We’re in a Tho-mas Pyn-chon nah-vul
So all the crih-tics haf-ta grah-vul
At—the author’s feet!
So c’mon—and find the beat!
And sing along!

[(piano:) bah da-da-da-da, bah da-da-da-da, bah da-da-da-DA! DAH! DUH!]

Although our sing-ing has-no rea-son
If we stopped-it be-high trea-son
‘Cause it’s—a Pynchon book!
So c’mon—and take a look!
And read along!

[(piano:) bah da-da-da-da, bah da-da-da-da, bah da-da-da-DA! DAH! DUH!]

(At this point, the smallest man breaks away from the rest of the group, energetic. In a loud, strained falsetto (in lieu of a chorus girl, ostentatiously), he squeaks out:)

Though- you- may- think- that- his- nah- vels- are- quite- un-read-ah-bl-ah-bl, […bah da-da dah-dah duh-duh…]
I- think- in- fact- you’ll- find- them- quite- a-gree-ah-bl-ah-bl, […buh da-da dee-da duh-duh…]
Un- less- you’ve- got- a- dis- ease- that’s- un-treat-ah-bl-ah-bl, […boo dee-da doo-da dee-doo…]
In which case, my good friend, you’re tot’lly fuh-uh-uhcked! […dah, DAH, DAH!]

Here, at the crescendo, the song is cut short when the aforementioned falsetto vomits up a pool of blood. He passes out drunk on the floor, still muttering the lyrics to himself. The once-enthralled vocalists soon lose interest, and return to swapping drunken stories about hang-gliding accidents in the Gobi.

Boston lager.”

Slothrop, a little perplexed but still strangely drawn to this locale, sits down on a cheaply made stool and orders a beer from the barman who is wearing a red wig and dressed as a druid.

Boston lager.”

He is served with moderate and welcome haste. There are two nondescript men to Slothrop’s right, neither of which he is acquainted with.

“Weh’ lookit that,” sez the first, “I neveh knew tha’h pretzels had sa’many lih’le bits’a salt.

“Indeed,” replies the second, “’tis quite fascinating.”

“Buh’ ri’lly,” begins the first again, “ya’neveh ri’lly ah-PREE-she-ate all thems salts ‘til ya starts a-lookin’ ah’ thuhm.”

“Very true.”

Slothrop orders several more beers before too long, all the while listening with the attention of a chipmunk the men sitting next to him, though never interrupting their conversation.

“Ih’s jus’…ih’s jus’…wow.”


Salts…lots’o lih’le salts.”

“Jolly good.”

At long last:

Balls,” sez Slothrop.

Chapter Two

In which Ballyhoo Tantivy—a sexual monster—solves a diplomatic crisis.

Three in the morning, hardly a sound in the streets, and Ballyhoo Tantivy looks over at the sixteen-year-old Viennese prostitute he has bedded for the night. She is smallish, with dark hair and perky breasts (her breasts are perfect in Tantivy’s eyes—not too big; not too small), with ears that stick out just a tad. They had been done fucking for quite some time now, and indeed the prostitute—whom Tantivy is fairly certain is named Karin—is fast asleep.

“…reason for being in Vienna is actually quite important…”

Ballyhoo Tantivy’s reason for being in Vienna is actually quite important, his sexual liaisons aside. An employ of the British foreign embassy, his work as a diplomat has taken on a new level of both importance and urgency as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in a fit of boredom, invaded Bosnia and Herzegovina. This, naturally, really threw off The Situation, and really pissed off most of the Entente powers.

It follows, then, that Tantivy had been very busy. In the last week alone, he’d bedded twelve—twelve—prostitutes; a different one (or two, or three, heehee) each night. Monday night he’d shared with Leni, age 19, an orphan brunette with sad eyes and a tight pussy. Tuesday evening he brought home Geli, and gave her a good fucking after dinner. Later that same night, Tantivy felt a little adventurous and sought out Brunhilde, a fine Bavarian madchen complete with platinum blonde hair and tight Teutonic pigtails. On Wednesday, old Tantivy thought his whore-seeking luck had run out, but then ran into Sasche and gave her a good sexual thrashing. The night after, Tantivy got drunk on a rather pricey bottle of wine at the hotel he’d fucked Sasche in, stumbled about Vienna most of the day, and fucked an aging hooker at about mid-day. From there, he continued to stumble about drunk for most of the evening, and fucked what he was fairly certain was a girl, though in retrospect he isn’t entirely sure. Tantivy spent the vast majority of Friday morning in bed, but then went out late that night and found three whores; he had the lot of them at once. Good times. Saturday was comparatively quiet, with Tantivy bedding only two girls (both of whom were, interestingly enough, named Katherine).

It was Sunday (or rather, by virtue of the early morning, Monday) night/morning and Tantivy had elected to have a quiet, relaxing night. He had found Karin—at least he thinks her name is Karin, Tantivy can’t remember—in a back alley, alone, wide-eyed, visibly nervous, clearly novice. He picked her up with a gentle voice: there there, he had said, it’s all going to be alright. Though Tantivy knew Karin (it was Karin, wasn’t it?) didn’t understand his English, his tone of voice had been enough. He walked Karin (he was fairly sure it was Karin by this point) to his hotel room, not a word—not that they were able to converse anyway—between them. He disrobed almost at once, and gestured to Karin to do the same, which she did reluctantly. Then they fucked. Karin (at this point Tantivy contented with simply referring to her as such in her head, it really didn’t matter if this were her real name or not) moaned, first in pain, then in pleasure, and came shortly before he did. She fell asleep afterward. Tantivy watched. God, thought Tantivy, I sure love her breasts.

Chapter Three

In which Schlemihl Slothrop becomes acquainted with Katje Tantivy.

“…Peanut butter…?”

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck. Slothrop’s head writhed with pain: he must’ve passed out at some point during the night. Guess that would explain why I’m in this alley. He got up, slowly, and checked his wallet: $26.77. Just enough for a whore. He began walking down the street, humming to himself. Hm hm hm hm-hm hm-hm hm-hm….

Before too long:

There’s one.

“How much?”


Well that’s convenient.

“Where we going?”

“I’ve got a place not too far from here; c’mon.”

After a time:

“So, um, what’s your name? I typically ask.”

“Katje. Katje Tantivy. And yours?”

“Schlemihl Slothrop.”

“You’re a schlemihl?”

“’Fraid so.”

“I see.”

A bit later:

(Slothrop, mostly as a joke:) “Been whorin’ long?”

“Ever since I was a girl. Runs in the family, actually.”

“How’s that?”

“My grandmother was a whore in Vienna during the Golden Years, which is to say the early nineteen-teens. She met the man that came to be my grandfather there. He was a diplomat from London, and was in Vienna on business, though I guess he was doing a little more business than he was sent over to do! Ahahahahaha!”


“So it got to be that the two of them got to be pretty powerful in controlling The Cartel—the cartel of sex slaves that ran through Vienna. Interesting stuff, don’t you think?”

“…Well, I don’t—”

“It is interesting, isn’t it? This whole ‘History of Whoring,’ don’t you think?”


“Ah, here we are! My apartment! Let’s go insidehee hee—shall we?”

They do so, with Katje practically bounding up the stairs to her room; Slothrop close behind. Upon reaching her bed, Katje disrobes is one swift, fluid action, taking Slothrop a bit more than by surprise (“How did you…?”). Katje then—rather unexpectedly—produces a jar of peanut butter.

Okay—I want you to stick this up my vagina.”

There is a pause here. Finally:

Peanut butter?” asks Slothrop.

Peanut butter,” sez Katje.


“Why not? Peanut butter has a plethora of uses. The first of which, of course, is the edibility factor—you can eat it. Peanut butter can also be used to remove gum from the hair of little girls. I remember once, in my own youth, my mother had to use peanut butter on my hair for that very purpose! Ahahahahaha! Lord…. Peanut butter can also be used as a substitute for meat paste, as it is high in protein and tastes a good deal better than meat paste, do you follow?”

“I suppose, but…”

“Good. Peanut butter is basically great. I’m glad you understand.”


There is a palpable, awkward silence here. At last, Slothrop asks:

“But why do you want me to stick it up…there?”

“Just do it.”



Chapter Four

In which digressive bullshit that has nothing to do with the rest of anything happens.

The Story of Percy the Peanut

Percy was grown at the Stanford Mills Plantation in Georgia (the one in the United States, of course). Stanford Mills wasn’t one of those idyllic, family-run operations, oh no, this was an industrial farm, if you could fathom such a thing. No well-tempered slave-wage Negroes plantin’ ‘n’ pickin’ Percy—this was a fuckin’ business, and businesses don’t got no time for sentimentality, at least when folks like the rather unsavory characters that ran The Cartel have a go at things.

“This brings us to Percy....”

Perhaps we have gone too far ahead. The Cartel is the rather aptly-named organization that runs all the world’s everything—from light bulbs to sex slaves to peanuts to the V-2 Rocket—and as runners of all the world’s everything, they don’t fuck around. The Cartel’s got one thing, and boy, do I mean one thing, on their collective, impersonal mind at any given time: money. See, The Cartel, through a rather impractical and unwieldy series of means, have the price of just about everything fixed like a horny house cat. Everything in this grand design set up by The Cartel has been ever-so-perfectly planned to yield the maximum profit, so that everyone that belongs to The Cartel makes out a great deal more than “alright.”

This brings us to Percy. Percy wasn’t born an ordinary peanut, no, see, Percy was born…immortal. Course, not even Percy knew this at the outset, though Percy was always what you could call a “peanut with ambition.” As a baby goober, Percy would have these fantasies about organizing bands of like-minded peanuts into death-cults of sorts—peanuts that would get into places where they shouldn’t be, and cause people with peanut allergies real problems, if you catch the meaning. Percy’s inevitable realization that, as a peanut, he utterly lacked the means to communicate (even to other peanuts!) put something of a damper on these grand ambitions of his, though, in the end, Percy was still an immortal.

When the day that all peanuts dread came about—the day peanuts are harvested and shipped to whatever food-processing plant they’re needed—Percy’s immortality really came in handy. See, Percy was sent to the peanut butter factory to be made into creamy peanut butter. ‘Cept, when it came time for Percy to meet his fate, he, well, didn’t. He lived on, intact, and saw the wonders that are almost always denied peanuts like him. He sat, hours on end, in the backs of trucks and on the shelves of stores, ‘til eventually he was bought, and then, finally, inserted into Katje Tantivy’s vagina.

“Ouch…ewww!” sez Katje.

Chapter Five

In which Tantivy explains The Situation, taking great liberties with facts and historical accuracy in the process.

“…I'm going to explain The Situation…”

“Okay,” sez Tantivy to Karin (that is her name, right?), “you’re probably a bit scared and confused, so I’m going to explain The Situation.”

Tantivy is met with a blank stare. He continues:

“As you know, your dual monarchial state—the Austro-Hungarian Empire—recently invaded the most fractured and politically unstable area of the most fractured and politically unstable region in Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans. The ramifications of this, of course, are huge. Serbia is on edge, because—as I’m sure you are well aware—Austria-Hungary has had their eye on Serbia for a while, now, and if they’re willing to push over Bosnia then who’s to say they won’t do the same to the Serbs?

Russia, too, is naturally upset, mostly on behalf of the Serbs, although Russia naturally has interests in the region. People may say that Pan-Slavism is dead, but Tsar is more aggressive then we Westerners necessarily give him credit for, and he certainly has no problem with expanding his already sizeable empire. Indeed, most in the region probably wouldn’t be opposed to a union with Russia.

“The Ottomans are somewhat peeved as well, because back in their glory days they controlled the whole of the Balkans, and have been gradually repulsed over the last few centuries. It is the vogue in my country to call the Ottoman Empire “the sick man of Europe,” although the whole of their European territory amounts to an insignificant enclave across from Constantinople, so that’s actually something of a misnomer.

Britain and France, too, are pissed, because they—well, rather, we—like to pretend we give a shit about the little guy, while simultaneously holding half the globe’s territory. It’s all such lovely bullshit, don’t you agree?”


“I’m glad. But hang tight, I’m just getting to the good parts regarding The Situation. Austria-Hungary is a major player in the sex-slave trade. This very city is a major hub, as it is centrally located right smack-dab in the middle of the Continent. The acquisition of Bosnia gives Austria-Hungary a greater Mediterranean coast, allowing more sex slaves to be filtered in via the sea from North Africa. This diminishes the importance—to the Austrians, at least—of the over-land route across the Dardanelles and through the Balkans to this very city. As a result, the runners of the international sex slave cartel—called The Cartel—here in Vienna are planning to stage something of a retaliatory action against The Man—or The Men, if you will—that are responsible for their loss in business. They plan on hiring a bunch of over-nationalistic Serbs to shoot Franz Ferdinand when the opportunity next makes itself apparent. The Cartel really thinks this’ll show The Crown what’s up, but in assassinating the Archduke, things really get interesting.”


“You see, the Italians have been thinking about…

Chapter Six

This happened to Tyrone, and now it’s happening to me...”

In which Schlemihl Slothrop becomes a paranoid.

Slothrop awoke from his rather rough (and, truth be told, somewhat bizarre) night with Katje. He got up long before she did, left all of his remaining money on her dresser, and headed out.

Slothrop’s head still throbbed, far worse than before. He felt dizzy, and kept getting all these strange notions that some ill-defined group of people/entities called “They” were after him. Oh no, thought Slothrop, not this. This happened to Tyrone, and now it’s happening to me. I’ve become…a paranoid. Goddammit!

But, after all, what reason did Slothrop have not to become a paranoid? He had seen, and heard, all about Them, and the things that They do, whether he wished to admit the fact to himself or not. He had seen how it was all connected—sex, international politics, for some reason, peanuts—and it all fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle so vast and intricate and overarching that the only coffee table large enough to accommodate the jumble of pieces was Planet Fucking Earth herself. What was Slothrop left to do now? Except for hunt the truth, and dress up like a super hero, and romp about postwar Europe, and end sentences with ellipsis….

Chapter Seven

In which hitherto-unintroduced character Günter Augenschlange sacrifices his sex slave Siegfried by strapping him to the front of a bus. Also, most of the dialogue is in German. Yeah.

Als klar?

Ja,” sez the first. A minute later, a second ja is heard.

Sehr gut.

Slowly, Siegfried is strapped into place on the front of the double-decker. His body is methodically covered in peanut butter. At last, Siegfried begins to whine:

Was machst du, Herr Augey?

Ich liebe dich, meine Liebchen.


When all is through, Augenschlange starts the bus.

The Warm-Up

Why am I strapped to this bus?

Why am I strapped to this bus? thinks Siegfried. What the fuck is going on? Why am I covered in peanut butter? None of this makes any sense. I don’t even know who these men are, for Christ’ sake! Ow! My leg is pinched. That’s just great. I bet that was done intentionally. Jesus.


Oh, they’ve started the bus. That’s just great. Fucking awesome.

Augenschlange has rigged the bus with an automatic driver. The only human involved with the bus, once it starts, will be Siegfried, strapped to its front.


Seriously, though, what the fuck is going on?


The bus takes off.

The Drive

The bus starts slowly at first, but builds both speed and momentum quickly. It starts off arrow-straight down the street. There are no cars—no cars anywhere—it is early morning.

Well this is just fucking awesome. I’m going to fucking die. Great. Fucking great.

Up ahead, at an intersection, there is another bus. Not like this bus, though. It is being driven by a man. It is taking children to school.

Oh. Well that’s in poor taste.

On the bus, the children, unaware and innocent to a stifling degree, sing:

We’re in a Tho-mas Pyn-chon nah-vul
So all the crih-tics haf-ta grah-vul
At—the author’s feet!
So c’mon—and find the beat!
And sing along!

(Being children, they are somewhat off-key, but no one seems to mind. They continue:)

Although our sing-ing has-no rea-son
If we stopped-it be-high trea-son
‘Cause it’s—a Pynchon book!
So c’mon—and take a look!
And read alo—

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