The Crying of Lot 49 Additional Summary

Thomas Pynchon


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Oedipa Maas receives a letter informing her that she has been named coexecutor of the estate of her former lover, millionaire Pierce Inverarity. She goes to San Narciso to meet Metzger, a lawyer and the estate’s coexecutor, and first sees him at the Echo Court Motel. Also at the motel are members of a rock band called the Paranoids. Oedipa is seduced by Metzger after the two watch a television rerun of Metzger playing Baby Igor as a child film star.

Oedipa and Metzger go to an electronic-music bar called the Scope several nights later. She meets Mike Fallopian, an enthusiast for an extreme far-right political group. He explains to her a strange delivery made to the bar by a private mail courier. In the restroom, Oedipa sees a postbox with a post-horn symbol, beginning her discovery of Tristero, a mysterious dark group behind a struggle for private and secret postal delivery in the United States and in Europe.

Next, Oedipa and Metzger go to Fangoso Lagoons, near San Narciso, to see one of Pierce’s property developments. The two executors soon meet Manny Di Presso, an attorney for a gangster who had a corrupt business deal with Pierce that involves the bones of former U.S. soldiers and, later, the dumping of some of those bones in the project’s lagoons to attract divers. Later, the Paranoids tell Oedipa of The Courier’s Tragedy, a Jacobean revenge tragedy by Richard Warfinger that director Randolph Driblette is producing at a little theater (also a part of Pierce’s estate). Metzger and Oedipa attend the play, which includes a murder: Men in black murder an Italian Renaissance courier then throw his body in a lake in a scene that uses the name Tristero, a name she remembers from the bar. Oedipa interviews Driblette after the performance, but he refuses to clarify the origin of the idea for the black-clothed Tristero assassins. He does confirm, however, that they are not part of the original text of The Courier’s Tragedy.

Oedipa attends a Yoyodyne stockholders...

(The entire section is 827 words.)