Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr., descendant of an early New England Puritan family, was born and raised in a middle-class Long Island suburb. His first known literary works were satiric essays published in the literary magazine of Oyster Bay High School, from which he graduated in 1953. He enrolled at Cornell University in that year, majoring in engineering physics. His college career was interrupted by a two-year hitch in the U.S. Navy; he returned to Cornell and graduated in 1959. While at Cornell, he took writing courses from the novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who was evidently impressed by the younger man’s abilities but who had little direct influence on Pynchon’s style or themes. Pynchon may have been married briefly during the 1950’s, but careful investigations have produced no concrete evidence of this.
In 1959, he published two stories, one in the Cornell literary magazine, the other in Epoch 9; he published four more stories in 1960 and 1961. Most of these stories were eventually collected in Slow Learner: Early Stories (1984). Also in 1959, he began work on his first novel, V., while living in New York’s Greenwich Village; during 1960 and 1961, he worked as a technical writer for the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington.
Virtually nothing is known about Pynchon’s life after 1961. V. was published in 1963 and received the William Faulkner Foundation Award for the best first novel of that year....
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