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D M Thomas better than Thomas Pynchon

D M Thomas is a really Freudian novelist, not just in his subject-matter and the way he deals with issues like desire, but more importantly in the way that rationality, although present, isn't what determines the course of events. (It seems like authors often forget about the possibility of the unconscious.) And like in psychoanalysis, events can be trivial and deeply significant at the same time. This allows his books to be about big subjects without floating off into abstractions, keeping the straightforward emotional sigificance.

I've just finished reading The Flute Player which is essentially about a woman who becomes a muse for a painter and two poets, and thematically it's about how art can survive through cataclysmic horrors we've seen in the 20th century such as totalitarianism and genocide. In fact, how it can exist in the same universe as those things. It's not a perfect novel (The White Hotel is) but it's good.

I remembered that some of the themes are a bit like those in Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. There too, war comes and goes in unexplained ebbs and flows, and themes of mortality, art, and sex fly around. But Gravity's Rainbow is basically a big postmodern romp around that world, a lot of very clever writing without real human significance. D M Thomas is much better.

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