In futile pursuit of Thomas Pynchon

by awindram

Erroneous knowledge; it makes fools of us all. I spent the weekend just outside of LA at Manhattan Beach. Up until now I knew one fact (later downgraded to factoid) about Manhattan Beach and that was that Thomas Pynchon, the camera-shy author, lived there.

I was excited at the prospect that I might capture the first public photograph of Pynchon in over fifty years. As a lepidopterist sets out with a net and killing jar, I had my mobile phone and Canon EOS 60D. On the pier I stalked each elderly gent I could find before surreptitiously shooting them. Did their picture appear to match with the few known pictures of Pynchon as a high school student and as a young sailor. Had he, in the intervening years, had his teeth fixed? Should I be looking for someone fat or thin. Of course, I just ended up indiscriminate in my choices. No old man was safe from me. . .

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. . . and then I remembered Pynchon hasn’t lived in Manhattan Beach in over thirty years.

All was not wasted, however, as I now have a lovely collection of portraits of old Southern California men.

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