One afternoon I decided to rent a bike and ride out to the Montauk Lighthouse, an inescapable local attraction. The lighthouse is featured on many of the tourist items for sale and on websites that aren't even affiliated with the lighthouse. But I rode along Route 27, saw the lighthouse, did the loop that the highway takes at that end of the island before paddling back, returning the bike and going back to my hotel.
Once back at the hotel, I grabbed a towel and my current reading (Bleeding Edge) and headed to the pool. I discovered that Maxine Tarnow, the main character in Pynchon's novel, normally Manhattan-based, was coincidentally heading to Montauk.
They continue out to the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Everybody is supposed to love Montauk for avoiding everything that's wrong with the Hamptons. Maxine came out here as a kid once or twice, climbed to the top of the lighthouse, stayed at Gurney's, ate a lot of seafood, fell asleep to the pulse of the ocean, what's not to like?Paranoia, odd coincidences and how people process them, seeing patterns or embracing that there are no patterns: these are themes in Pynchon's work. So you can imagine how odd it felt that warm late September day to read a character in a book who was experiencing what I had just done an hour or two earlier. I did consider Gurney's when looking for a hotel; I'm thankful I wasn't staying there. That would have been too much.
But as they decelerate down the last stretch of Route 27...As I did just a little while ago.
They park in the visitors' lot at the lighthouse. Tourists and their kids all over the place, Maxine's innocent past....They drive our of the lot again, follow the loop around to Old Montauk Highway, presently hook a right inland on Coast Artillery Road.The connection to what I had been doing that day was eerie. I didn't want to read further in case of...what? It would describe Maxine sitting by a pool with a book? Would she see me? Happily the fiction took over again and her story continued on a different path from mine, which was a relief.