November 4, 2010
by Melville House
Last month I wrote about my encounter with a mysterious fellow calling himself “Nadar” who talked about his “obsession” with finding information about reclusive authors. Intrigued, I asked Nadar to provide more details of his “author hunt.” He promised me more than I “bargained for.”
It turns out Nadar has been working on his own blog called “The Thomas Trail – Thomas Pynchon: Every Contact Leaves Traces” that describes his research into Pynchon’s past residences and hangouts. In his first post, he describes his motivations for his work:
Pynchon’s landscapes were more concerned with an identity of place than an identity of self. What I wanted to find out was where were the locations that Pynchon’s art came from…I was convinced that place exerts a strong influence on psyche, especially when it comes to shaping metaphors. Now, I wanted to visit those places and see if/how they operate (if at all) in Pynchon’s work.
Subsequent posts describe Nadar’s quest to track down the Manhattan Beach, CA residence where Pynchon lived in the 1960s. One post includes a series of photographs of the local stores and hangouts Pynchon frequented:
Juicy James was a hot dog stand in Hermosa Beach. Most likely, Pynchon had a few Juicy James hot dogs. The stand is no longer there, but the memory of Pynchon at Juicy James is found in his novel Inherent Vice.
In his final post “Location, Surveillance, Detection” Nadar describes using the “deep web” to track down Lani Guy, the daughter of Pynchon’s Manhattan Beach landlady. Nadar writes:
Lani describes Pynchon as tall with long hair and a big moustache. Pynchon’s apartment, Lani said, was ornately decorated with pig paraphernalia. Lani also recalls Pynchon studied Russian. Somewhere Lani has Pynchon’s Tarot cards, a puzzle ring and signed edition of The Crying of Lot 49.
Lani provides Nadar with two photographs of the house (now destroyed) Pynchon rented including a shot of what might be Pynchon’s Volkswagon Beatle.
The post ends on an odd cliffhanger:
Had the Internet taken my soul? It’s only finding stuff out that somebody else didn’t think you were going to. Someday everybody’s gonna wake up to find they’re under surveillance they can’t escape. Where does the Thomas Trail go from here? Its 1974 or 1975. Where does Pynchon go next? North, to the Emerald Triangle.
It seems like Nadar’s hunt is far from over. I’m curious to see where it takes him next…