I’ve always felt that it is two ways you can go in American literature; one is the Hemingway route, and the other is the Faulkner route. And I suppose you can go to the John Dos Passos route, which is more prevalent in a way now.1 I was just stuck in a sense that the American novel had to reveal a generational richness.2 And I did not take into view that this was more my own obsession, and my own shtick, than it would necessarily be for the reader. But I can remember one time when I got into Pynchon’s material, I thought oh my God, this isn’t an American novel at all. This is just cockamamie entertainment, and it’s anything to keep baiting the reader along, because the reader wants to be nothing but entertained.
And this was a shock to me, and that I consider my naiveté, I mean egregious naiveté. Here, I was reading novels as if they were works of history or commentary or social criticism, and all the rest of the world was reading the goddamn things for the entertainment value. And I couldn’t get out of myself enough to see that.