Cow Country – NOT!

Here is a hunt, or….stalking! Rena the Cowgirl of Montana, who inspired my novel ‘The Royal Janitor, had the Deputy Sherriff of Montana call me and tell me my muse suggested I was stalking her. This began the long range war between us that perhaps Pynchon has latched on to – he using an alias lest he be accused of something he did not do. He is being accused of NOT writing Cow Country.

Here is Boris Kachka on my ex-wife. I am sure Tom did not approve.

John Presco

When Rena Easton said I was “Left-leaning” in her letter, I took it to mean, she (and her husband) love America more than I do. This idea is a Theme to many white people who head North, or were born there. My grandfather, Royal Rosamond, says he was born in Helena. He wrote several stories about Montana.

In her Proclamation Right-wing of the Aryan Rancher Flag of America, a hot cultural battle began. In 2014, I sent into battle two creative Frenchmen – foreigners! I wonder how Rena feels about a man accused of rape, suggesting women should apologize to the whole country (and Israel) ? What horrible things have THEY said about Israel? How many of  The Squad said horrible things about Israel? Evangelicals have a vested interest in seeing the Temple rebuilt – in Israel! This is why POTUS is titled ‘Messiah’ – in Israel! Is Trump defending America – or Israel? If so, is this part of his – other calling?

Earlier this week, a remarkable story appeared on the website of Harper’s: Art Winslow, the respected critic and former literary editor of The Nation, wrote that he had, perhaps, found a new, pseudonymous novel by the reclusive writer Thomas Pynchon. The novel in question, he explained, was Cow Country by Adrian Jones Pearson, the first book from Cow Eye Press, which appeared to have been created to publish it. To call Cow Country obscure would be an overstatement: published in April of 2014, it hadn’t made a blip on any literary radar. Before Winslow’s bombshell, the book had been quietly received two reviews that had been paid for by the author—in the Midwest Book Review and the trade publication Kirkus—and a third in the obscure San Francisco Book Review.

Winslow’s evidence was scant, but his argument was persuasive. To begin with, Pearson admitted to using a pseudonym, and his rationale—explained in an “interview” published by Cow Eye Press—echoed Pynchon’s stance on literary fame and public figuredom. “I’ve always had a severe distaste for all the mindless biographical drivel that serves to prop up this or that writer,” said Pearson. “So much effort goes into credentialing the creator that we lose sight of the creation itself, with the consequence being that we tend to read authors instead of their works. In fact, we’d probably prefer to read a crap book by a well-known writer than a great book by a writer who may happen to be obscure.”

Pearson’s sensibility and style also matched Pynchon’s—or at least, it didn’t seem like a stretch to think there were significant overlaps. Cow Country, a satire of academia set at Cow Eye Community College, is full of in-jokes and goofs, silly characters and place names. According to Winslow, it also “seems to revel in its own delight of cultural esoterica, and it displays both a fondness for and a corresponding suspicion of countercultural motifs of the 1960s–70s.” Finally, there was thematic consistency: Cow Country shared with Pynchon’s novels a “feeling of dislocation, as if one were in a box with no side labeled ‘UP’ for orientation.”

And yet, for all of the similarities, there simply was no proof. Cow Eye Press LLC had been registered in Wyoming by a company that, as Winslow found, “offers virtual offices in a locale ‘known for business-friendliness and respect for privacy.’” Further internet searches revealed that the young press had submitted its documentation online. The playfully detailed (and, admittedly, very Pynchon-esque) websites for Cow Eye Press and Cow Eye Community College had been registered using a proxy registrar in October of 2014 and January of 2015, respectively. And Adrian Jones PearsonCow Eye Press, and Cow Eye Community College were on Facebook, but there were no smoking guns—and practically no friends or likes—on any of the pages. The trail was cold.

Perhaps owing to this lack of hard evidence, Winslow’s 3,000-word speculation ends up being something of a bait and switch. Beginning with the tantalizing possibility that there is a new Pynchon novel hiding in plain sight, he concludes with a major caveat: “Personally, I think that chance”—that Pynchon is the author—“is small, and encourage any reader who enjoys Pynchon’s work to check out Cow Country.”

The post went viral. How could it not? Even without proof, the possibility that Pynchon was playing a giant practical joke on all of us was too enticing. Even after Pynchon’s publisher, Penguin Press, told New York magazine’s Nate Jones, “We are Thomas Pynchon’s publisher and this is not a book by Thomas Pynchon,” people kept sharing Winslow’s piece, and the subsequent, inevitable writeups in Vice and The New York Times. In fact, many saw Penguin’s denial as proof of Pynchon’s involvement. Jones himself ended his piece with a wink: “But, then again, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

They would, I suppose, even if Thomas Pynchon had written Cow Country. But Thomas Pynchon didn’t write Cow Country. A.J. Perry probably did.

After reading Winslow’s piece, I did what any sad young literary man would: I emailed everyone I knew who might know if Pynchon had a secret, self-published book. The responses I got back were unanimous: No one knew who was behind Cow Country, but everyone was certain it wasn’t Thomas Pynchon. I did Reverse WhoIs searches for every plausible candidate, including Pynchon. I looked through every Disqus comment made by Cow Eye Community College. I searched for connections between Pynchon and Madison Grant, the early 20th century eugenicist whose book The Passing of The Great Race that Cow Eye Press claims to be reissuing this winter. (I did find one connection, but it didn’t lead anywhere, alas.) I briefly became convinced that Pearson was an adjunct professor in Illinois.

Friday morning, I woke up to an email from Dr. Steven Moore, who I had emailed the previous evening. Moore, an esteemed literary scholar and author of the two-volume study The Novel: An Alternative History had provided Cow Country’s lone blurb. Moore told me that he knew the author, but declined to reveal his real identity—though he did confirm that it was not Thomas Pynchon. Moore went on to reveal that the author of Cow Country had published two books under a different name—a novel that had been published in 2000 and a novella that came out in the UK last year. He also told me that he had positively, if briefly, mentioned the author in the first volume of The Novel: An Alternative History and that he had later received a galley of Cow Country that had been mailed from Hawaii. The previous day, Adrian Jones Pearson had published a cheeky Facebook post—“Thomas who?”—that revealed his location: Koloa, Hawaii.

Later that morning, I searched Twitter to see if any progress had been made in the search for the secret author of Cow Country and saw this tweet, from the writer and critic Michael LaPointe:

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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