Strange Pynchon Ephemera

This is probably the biggest cache of details from Pynchon’s personal life to surface . . . well, ever. Not that there’s much competition.

Photo of Pynchon’s right hand at the link.

Phyllis Gebauer was at the event to discuss the books, her friendship with Pynchon — whom she calls “Tom” — and the collection, which she hopes will fund scholarships to the UCLA Extension Writers Program where Gebauer has taught for more than two decades.

Gebauer talked to Pynchon extensively about the gift. “When Tom lived in L.A. he did a lot of research at the UCLA research library,” she said. “He likes the idea of these books being used to fund scholarships.” The two spoke on the phone for 90 minutes Tuesday, she said. Pynchon followed up with a fax, which Gebauer read to Wednesday night’s audience.

. . .

In the early 1960s, Phyllis was a Spanish teacher in Seattle, married to Fred Gebauer, a mechanical engineer doing work at Boeing he couldn’t discuss. At a party celebrating a mutual friend’s new piano, the two met Pynchon, a technical writer working for another part of Boeing. Pynchon and Fred clowned around by reaching into the piano and plucking out the Yogi Bear theme song on its strings — “which did not delight the host,” Phyllis Gebauer said Wednesday night.

. . .

The couple had moved several times in just a few years when Fred took a job at NASA — another one he couldn’t discuss — and, after being in Houston just a week, they bumped into Pynchon after a concert. “Phyl, Fred, what are you guys doing here?” she remembers Pynchon calling to them. The coincidence was the kind of thing that might happen in one of Pynchon’s books — but in Pynchon’s world it would have been the result of a deep and complex conspiracy.

The reconnected friends spent a lot of time together. In her mini-memoir, titled “Tom and Us,” Phyllis writes that Pynchon and Fred used to shoot toy rockets off the roof of their Houston house. She recalls that more than once she’d be talking to Pynchon on the phone, hand it over to Fred when she left for one of her graduate school classes — and she’d return hours later to find Fred still sitting in their knotty-pine lined family room, still talking to Tom on the other end of line.

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Has the Internet entirely forgotten Jules Siegel’s Lineland by now? Probably a good thing if so.

Forget Lineland. The Playboy article (1977), Chicago Tribune article from 84, New York article from 1997. There are also some letters in a few libraries and elsewhere and Of a Fond Ghoul, etc. etc. YAWN


Haven’t heard of this Chicago Tribune article from ’84. Do you have a link?

Sorry, no link. It was released before links, but the articles is Helen Dudar’s “Lifting the Veil on Life of a Literary Recluse.” Chicago Tribune Bookworld 8 Apr. 1984: 35-36. It also appeareaed adas “A Pynchon for Privacy” in Newsday 9 Apr. 1984, sec. II: 3. Therte was also an article in ’63 written either by a college associate or someone who managaed to string together some info from various interviews. P was pretty pissed about it at the time.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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