In all honesty, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is one of the most confusing novels that I have ever come across. The reader engages it initially as a cliché detective novel, seemingly harmless and simple. However, the usual single-solution mystery quickly devolves into a mess teeming with multiple meanings and conclusions. Thomas Pynchon confronts the reader with several different, yet equally prolific, conclusions to the same story in order to bring the reader closer to intellectual chaos and activity and further away from heat death.
Due to the fact that it is a common postmodern theme, it should come as no surprise that the idea of “the death of the author” can be derived from this novel. In The Crying of Lot 49, this idea is introduced more literally into the novel, where in the first few pages Pierce becomes a dead author of his own will. Pynchon does not stop there with this metaphor, however, for as the novel progresses, the possibility that Pierce has been creating this entire trail that Oedipa has been following becomes a very plausible possibility. “Every access route to the Tristero could be traced back to the Inverarity estate…all of them were Pierce Inverarity’s men? Bought? Or loyal, for free, for fun, to some grandiose practical joke he’d cooked up, all for her embarrassment, or terrorizing, or moral improvement?” (Pynchon 140). This shows that there is a strong possibility that this entire journey has been created by Pierce, or better yet, that this entire story has been written by Pierce. If one settles upon the idea that the conclusion is that Pierce has been controlling the entire story from the start, then Mr. Inverarity suddenly becomes the embodiment of the death of the author. Then Oedipa becomes the reader, for without the reader’s participation the author cannot live or convey his meaning, and without Oedipa chasing around all the clues in the story,...