The cover of "Vineland Reread"

Vineland Reread

Peter Coviello, PhD ’98

Publishers Weekly calls Coviello’s treatise on the novel Vineland, by fellow Cornellian Thomas Pynchon ’59—in which eccentric characters who came of age in the 1960s clash with the mores of the Reaganite 1980s—a “penetrating and nuanced work of literary criticism.” As Coviello, an English professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, admits: “Vineland is no one’s most beloved Pynchon novel; on a lot of days it’s not even mine. Published in 1990, the first of Pynchon’s novels to appear after the Literary Event that was Gravity’s Rainbow, from 1973, it was soon enough eclipsed by the appearance just a few short years later of Mason & Dixon (1997) and has been held ever since in what might be fairly called middling esteem.” But as Coviello argues in this slim volume from Columbia University Press, despite being routinely outshined by other works in the author’s canon, Vineland—which he lauds as “uproarious and joy-propounding”—is at its essence “an extraordinary novel of political grief.”