by Rodger Jacobs

Thomas Pynchon had been engaged in a hard-fought wrestling match with a character in the new book he was writing; it was the central character, in fact, and the sonofabitch kept eluding Pynchon’s descriptive skills.

Pynchon’s wife offered a solution over breakfast one morning. She had made his favorite: pancakes shaped like rocket ships.

“I think the character sounds a lot like you,” she said. “Just meditate on yourself in some abstract manner. Think about how you would describe yourself as a character.”

After breakfast Pynchon felt a depression coming on. He decided to take a leisurely summer drive. That usually scared the darkening shadows away.

Before long Pynchon found himself on Route 6, headed into Cape Cod. He drove to Craigville Beach and parked the car in a public lot adjacent to the sand and surf. At Four Seas Ice Cream he pondered his wife’s advice over a scoop of vanilla.

A stroll to the beach was in order after his tasty frozen treat. At the border where the asphalt met the wet sand, Pynchon removed his shoes and socks, placed them in one hand, and stepped into the cold, wet sand. He felt the sand squish between his toes.

He stood staring into the deep waters, trying to conjure up his qualities, both good and bad. He started with his physical qualities and didn’t get very far. He was, he calculated, physically average for a man his age. Lifestyle? Nothing too lavish. Intellectual prowess? Well, that depends on what the critics and the academics are saying lately. But aside from his success as a novelist, everything else in his life came out to just about average. Normal. Healthy. Respectable. He was talented, yes, he knew that, but once he extracted that from the equation…

“Damn,” he said with a sigh. “I’m nondescript.”

ABOUT THE STORY: “Pynchon at Craigville Beach” by Rodger Jacobs  is from a section entitled “Writers at the Shore,” part of a volume of Jacobs’ collected short pieces called Invisible Ink hailed as “the most exemplary L.A. book of 2012” by CityWatch L.AThe story will appear in the Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY, available by June 21, 2013.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Rodger Jacobs has won multiple awards and grants for his work as a journalist, documentary writer and producer, screenwriter, playwright, magazine editor, true crime writer, book critic and columnist for PopMatters, and live event producer. In 2010, he provided the preface and original inspiration for Jack London: San Francisco Stories (Sydney Samizdat Press). He is the author of the novel The Furthest Palm, published by Silver Birch Press in 2012.

Photo: “Craigville Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts” by xpucmok, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.