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It's the birthday of Thomas Pynchon, (books by this author) born in Glen Cove, New York (1937), the author of large books of fiction, including Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Mason and Dixon (1997), and the 1,085-page Against the Day (2006). He studied physics engineering at Cornell, left to serve in the Navy, and then returned to study literature, where fellow students report that he attended lectures given by Vladimir Nabokov. He applied to Berkeley's graduate school of math, but his application was rejected.
He is well known for his reclusiveness and elusiveness. After his first novel, V., was published in 1963 and Time magazine sent a photographer to his home in Mexico City, Pynchon reportedly evaded the reporter by jumping out his window, riding a bus to the mountains, and staying there while he grew a beard — and when he returned natives called him Pancho Villa. In 1997, a CNN crew stalked Pynchon in his Manhattan neighborhood and was able to capture him on film. He became upset, called the station, and asked that he not be pointed out to viewers in any of the footage. He said, "Let me be unambiguous. I prefer not to be photographed." When they asked him about his reclusiveness, he said, "My belief is that 'recluse' is a code word generated by journalists ... meaning, 'doesn't like to talk to reporters.'"
When he received the National Book Award in 1974 for Gravity's Rainbow, he sent comedian Irwin Corey to the ceremony to accept the prize.
He has, however, made two cameo appearances on the animated television series The Simpsons. In one of them, Marge has become an author and Pynchon provides a blurb for her book. Pynchon appears on the show and says, "Here's your quote: Thomas Pynchon loved this book, almost as much as he loves cameras!" Then he yells at cars passing by, "Hey, over here, have your picture taken with a reclusive author! Today only, we'll throw in a free autograph!"
He lived for a period in Los Angeles, now resides in New York City, in Manhattan's Upper West Side. He is married to his literary agent, Melanie Jackson, and the couple has a son, who was born in 1991.
"In the end, only kindness matters."