Books: Openers

SLOW LEARNER by Thomas Pynchon

Little, Brown; 193 pages; $14.95

The urge to make an impression on the public consciousness does not combine easily with the desire to go through life unnoticed. Witness the besieged reclusiveness of Greta Garbo, J.D. Salinger and the late Howard Hughes. They all made the same mistake: trying to change the rules of celebrityhood after they had become household faces. Author Thomas Pynchon, 46, apparently anticipated this problem during his adolescence. The only photograph of him to surface publicly shows a typical American teen-age male circa mid-1950s: crew cut,...

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