Throughout his works, Thomas Pynchon uses various animal characters to narrate fables that are vital to postmodernism and ecocriticism. Thomas Pynchon’s Animal Tales: Fables for Ecocriticism examines case studies of animal representation in Pynchon’s texts, such as alligators in the sewer in V.; the alligator purse in Bleeding Edge; dolphins in the Miami Seaquarium in The Crying of Lot 49; dodoes, pigs, and octopuses in Gravity’s Rainbow; Bigfoot and Godzilla in Vineland and Inherent Vice; and preternatural dogs and mythical worms in Mason & Dixon and Against the Day. Through this exploration, Keita Hatooka illuminates how radically and imaginatively the legendary novelist depicts his empathy for nonhuman beings. Furthermore, by conducting a comparative study of Pynchon’s narratives and his contemporary documentarians and thinkers, Thomas Pynchon’s Animal Tales leads readers to draw great lessons from the fables, which stimulate our ecocritical thought for tomorrow.
Keita Hatooka is professor of adaptation studies in the Graduate School of Science and Technology at Meiji University.
Introduction: For Whom the Fable Says: Pynchon, Lyotard, and Carson
Chapter 1. Who Caught the Blood of the Alligator? V.
Chapter 2. The Dolphin Jumped over the Moon: The Crying of Lot 49
Chapter 3. What We Talk about When We Talk about Extinction: Gravity’s Rainbow
Chapter 4. Who’s Afraid of the Big Badass? Vineland and Inherent Vice
Chapter 5. Sonnets for a Multispecies Cradle: Mason & Dixon and Against the Day
Chapter 6. The Lady with the Alligator Purse: Bleeding Edge and Jonathan Safran Foer
Conclusion: And Then There Were None (Except for Nature on the Screen): Documentary Guys, Grizzly Man, and Thomas Pynchon
“Keita Hatooka’s study of Thomas Pynchon’s Animal Tales is a compelling model for a combined approach of environmental criticism and postmodernism on a theoretical level and offers a comprehensive reading of Pynchon’s entire novelistic oeuvre for its representation of non-human life in an anthropocentric world. Hatooka is a true pioneer of the still too rare ecocritical approaches to Pynchon and finally gives an English-speaking audience access to Pynchon’s long-standing work in collected, revised, and updated form.”
"Keita Hatooka’s Thomas Pynchon’s Animal Tales: Fables for Ecocriticism offers illuminating readings of Pynchon’s works, situated at the intersection of familiar postmodern touchstones and both classic and more recent ecocritical perspectives. The resultant arguments concerning Pynchon’s representations of non-human animals bring to light the degree to which critics have overlooked important ecological aspects of one of America’s most vital postmodernist authors. Along the way, this book does more than draw attention to neglected aspects of Pynchon’s texts: it shows how Pynchon can help us think better about futures of ecocriticism."
"Ecocritics have long criticized the postmodern tilt toward psychological interiority and rarefied aestheticism, but Thomas Pynchon’s Animal Tales, in focusing on Pynchon’s fascination with and concern for animals (and for the environment more generally), busts this postmodern myth. Keita Hatooka’s book is a learned, accessible study of what the author refers to as 'postmodern ecocriticism and ecocritical postmodernism.'"