My copy of Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day showed up today, two days earlier than Amazon promised (I actually tried to buy it in town, but the local independent bookseller said he didn't think anyone would buy it (gasp!), and Barnes and Noble had 15 "on order" but none on the shelf). I've been looking forward to it for a couple months after catching the accidental Amazon blurb Pynchon wrote. Since then, I joined the Pynchon-L mailing list and they've fueled the fires of my interest in the new book, and Pynchon in general.
I never managed to finish his masterwork, Gravity's Rainbow, but I really enjoyed Mason & Dixon, to the point that I saddled several family members with it. "Happy birthday! Here's a huge, complex, difficult book for you to struggle with . . ."
Against the Day is a heavy book, 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds), and it looks nice. Too bad the binding (like most modern hardcovers) isn't a sewn binding, but is a "perfect binding" with colored headbands to hide the fact that it's flexible glue holding everything together instead of linen thread. Oh well. The typography is pretty good, Baskerville according to one of the P-Listers, and the pages are thin but nice and smooth. For some reason they used titling figures in the text, which is odd. As Robert Bringhurst says, "However common it may be, the use of titling figures in running text is illiterate: it spurns the truth of the letters." (The Elements of Typographic Style)
I plan on reading it fairly deliberately, around 20 pages a day, hopefully. That way I can finish it by the time the P-Listers have an organized re-reading. If you're contemplating the book, check out the Pynchon wiki, which should help flush out any references that aren't clear at first. They've got a "spoiler-free" annotations by page section that should be really helpful.
Tom Waits on the stereo. Time to get started.