Here’s a surprise: Author Thomas Pynchon didn’t show up at a party in his honor on Sunday at Freebird Books.
Then again, if the reclusive author of “Mason & Dixon” and “V” had shown up, would anyone even know?
Yes, say fans at the Columbia Street bookshop, which marked the rarely photographed New York author’s 71st birthday with a backyard barbecue. (The writer’s actual birthday on May 8.)
“He wasn’t here — I would have known,” said Anthony Antoniadis, who organized the party (which also rejoiced over the almost-finished reconstruction of Columbia Street that began three years ago — amount of time it takes to read a Pynchon novel).
As a few dozen people trickled in to the store, at 123 Columbia St., between Kane and DeGraw streets, during the afternoon, it was evident that free food and drink on a sunny weekend attracts more than just diehard readers, though a few of them were on hand, too.
“As far as historical fiction, there’s no one like him,” said Tom Gills, an ardent Pynchonite.
Others who had never cracked a hefty Pynchon tome popped in, too, cheerful that the main thoroughfare in the neighborhood had been repaired and that the portions of the bike path had been paved.
“The street finally looks like it’s a street and not a skateboard park,” said Michael Webster.
As part of the festivities, a fax machine, set up next to trays of hot dogs and hamburgers, fired off handwritten messages, some decorated with Pynchonesque symbols, to the Midtown office of Pynchon’s wife, a literary agent.
One woman expressed her jealousy of Pynchon’s sway over her boyfriend, pining, “If only I could make his eyes light up and inspire the enthusiasm he shows” when talking about the author giving a point of view to inanimate objects.
Others were not impressed by the literary powers on display in books like “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
“You lowered an otherwise average GPA. I see no reason to read further,” read another fax.
A call to Pynchon’s wife’s office was not returned. The Brooklyn Paper was seeking comment on the Pynchon birthday party — and her opinion of the Columbia Street repaving. Alas, she’d gone reclusive, too.