Pynchon Trivia Contest

Pynchon Trivia Contest with Simpsons Inspired Question Mark Masks -- by Joe Reifer
Pynchon Trivia Contest with Simpsons Inspired Question Mark Masks -- by Joe Reifer

The new Thomas Pynchon book Against the Day was released on November 21, 2006. Moe's Books in Berkeley had a party on the night of November 20th, and began selling the book at midnight. With some help from the Belligerati Reading Club, I prepared a Pynchon trivia quiz and served as the emcee. We even got some PR for the event from Publisher's Weekly!

The quiz was 20 questions with a bunch of bonus questions. Two extra points were given to the four people who wore the Pynchon masks based on the Simpsons episode. We also provided a small culinary sampling of Pirate's Banana Breakfast, which you would only understand if you've read Gravity's Rainbow.

Musical entertainment was provided by guitarist John Schott and drummer John Haynes. They played a wonderful mix of jazz and improv, with some great interpretations of Thelonius Monk tunes that were appropriate for this particular book.

I'd like to thank the nice folks at Moe's for staying up late to host such a great event. I had a great time. And in case you're wondering who won the trivia contest, there were two ringers. The winner runs the Pynchonoid blog, and the runner up runs Pynchon pages, including the new Pynchon wiki for Against the Day. I'm looking forward to getting started on the book over Thanksgiving. Happy reading everyone!

Questions from the Pynchon Trivia Contest

Pynchon Trivia Quiz Prepared by the Belligerati Reading Club
Moe’s Books Release Party for Pynchon’s Against the Day
November 20-21, 2006

1. The first line of Gravity’s Rainbow is:

2. Q: What was Pynchon’s first novel. Bonus: What year was it first published?

3. Q: The “Yoyodyne” corporation that appears in several of Pynchon’s novels is inspired by what real-world defense contractor where he worked as a technical writer?
Bonus question: Pynchon's Yoyodyne is featured in what 1984 science-fiction film?

4. Q: What is the symbol of the Trystero Society, featured prominently in The Crying of Lot 49? Bonus question: Draw a Trystero

5. Q: What is Pynchon’s middle name?

6. Q: In Mason & Dixon, in a waterfront dive called the Fair Anchor, who performs a recital on “the Glass Instrument?”

7. For whom is Gravity’s Rainbow dedicated?
Bonus question: Q: Pynchon was roommates with this person at what college?

8. Q: What Bay Area university rejected Pynchon’s application to become a graduate student in mathematics?

9. Q: What is the name of the film that contains a scene similar to one in Gravity's Rainbow where Slothrop dives into a toilet?

10. Q: Name either of the two Steve Erickson novels that Pynchon wrote book cover blurbs for? Bonus: Name either of the two Jim Knipfel books that Pynchon wrote book cover blurbs for?

11. Q: The character Tyrone Slothrop’s name is an anagram = "Sloth or ______________."

12. In 1966, Pynchon conducted a psychogeographical "journey" of what "residential district" of South Los Angeles. (The results were later published in the NYT.)

13. What 1958 novel by Pulitzer-Prize winner Oakley Hall was a college favorite of Pynchon's?

14. Q: What "experimental, post-hardcore" band named their fourth album Vheissu (which refers to Pynchon's novel V.)?
Bonus question: What 90's "wuss rock" band did Pynchon have "lunch with" for Esquire Magazine in 1996. Pynchon also wrote the liner notes to their second album "Nobody's Cool."

15. Q: Which of the following is NOT a Pynchon character: Pierce Invararity, Paddy McGonigle, Philander Boggle.

16. Which of these imaginary films is not referenced in Vineland?
1) The G. Gordon Liddy Story -- with Sean Connery
2) The Bryant Gumbel Story -- with John Ritter
3) Young Kissinger -- with Woody Allen
4) The Robert Musil Story -- with Peewee Herman
5) All four films are referenced in Vineland

17. What sport was featured in the imaginary film Magnificent Disaster in Vineland?
Bonus question: Name one of the imaginary stars of this movie, and who their character was in the film.

18. Pynchon wrote an essay called "Is it OK to Be a ________________?"

19. Gravity’s Rainbow: "Proverbs for Paranoids, 4: you hide, _____________."

20. Tristan Taormino, Pynchon's niece, won the Firecracker Book Award for what 1997 book?