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The Pynchon Hoax

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes

Submitted by Peter Markus as seen on

Thomas Pynchon is No Indie Rock Groupie
by The Cajun Boy
August 12 2009

pynchon001-200In 1996 the New Yorker ran a “Talk of the Town” piece about the notoriously reclusive Thomas Pynchon becoming a huge fan of an indie rock band called Lotion, a story the magazine now acknowledges was all a hilarious hoax.

To get an idea of how all this came to be, here’s what the New Yorker’s Andrew Essex wrote about the friendship between Pynchon and Lotion in the 1996 TOTT piece:

The writer and the rockers first met in Cincinnati… After the show, the older guy, who was wearing a Godzilla shirt and ill-fitting pants, swung by to offer his compliments. He introduced himself as Tom. Jim Ferguson was reading “Slow Learner”, Pynchon’s collection of short stories. He’d left his copy backstage in a New York rock club, where Pynchon had been invited to watch the show. Pynchon saw it and asked, “Who’s reading my book?” “I said, ‘No, that’s my book,'” Jim recalls. “It didn’t register until 1 got onstage… After that, Tom began showing up at Lotion performances all over the country. An unlikely friendship was born. A year later, the members of Lotion are still a bit stunned by their guardian angel.

Recently Essex contacted the magazine to say that he and the New Yorker’s vaunted fact-checkers had been tricked by the band all those years ago. (more…)