August 26, 2013

Baby Names Of Wackiness: Where Are All The Pynchon Baby Names?

So yesterday I met some friends' new kid, who they successfully named Atticus. And today in the apparent publicity run-up to the release of his new novel, Bloody Valentine, I read NY Magazine's latest stalker-bio of Thomas Pynchon. And I wondered, Seriously, where are all the kids named after Thomas Pynchon characters? Has anyone ever come up with more awesome, memorable character names than Thomas Pynchon? No.

There were 700 Messiahs born in the US last year. How many Oedipas? How many Slothrops? Fallopians? Is our society so unable to recognize this genius by naming our children after them? OK, maybe that last one, I can understand.

Or maybe there are just too many to choose from? I can't even find a comprehensive list of Pynchon character names to link to. So you'd have to find your own, which means reading Pynchon, loving a name and a character enough to want to name your kid after it, and then actually procreating, and convincing your partner of the choice. I see a lot of points of possible failure here.

Anyway, here are some places to start:

pynchon_characters_z.jpg

Patrick Hurley's 2008 book, Pynchon Character Names: A Dictionary sure sounds definitive, and it provides likely etymologies. But it only documents names "up through his most recent novel," which would have been Against The Day.

this NYMag article ranks their favorite names from the 2009 novel, Inherent Vice "in ascending order of stupid-awesomeness": ,

Mickey Wolfmann, Doc Sportello, Rudy Blatnoyd, Petunia Leeway, Scott Oof, Ensendada Slim, Jason Velveeta, Japonica Fenway, Delwyn Quight, Sauncho Smilax, Trillium Fortnight, Dr. Buddy Tubside, Flaco the Bad, Fritz Drybeam, Sledge Poteet, Bigfoot Bjornsen, and Leonard "El Drano" Loosemeat.
That last one's just an anagram. Not sure if that counts.

Way back in 1990-97, Douglas Albert compiled An Index of Fictional Characters, Places & Things in Vineland [PDF], including the Japanese obstetrician TV sitcom referenced above, "Babies of Wackiness."

It's hosted on the Pynchon Wiki, which has proceeded to create alphabetical indexes for the rest of the author's novels. Which sometimes seem nearly as impenetrable as the books themselves. For generating a Pynchonian baby name, you might do just as well ripping a plaintext copy from an ebook, pasting it into Excel, and sorting A>Z.

And if you can hold off until Sept. 17, Bleeding Edge will be out, and you can choose one from there. If you have a favorite Pynchon character baby name suggestion, add it below.

2 Comments

My favorite Thomas Pynchon character name is Mucho Maas. But I could never imagine naming a kid that. I guess some names are just better left to the books.

According to the first review I've seen, there's a character in Bleeding Edge called Slagiatt, [from 'seemed like a good idea at the time'], which could be a great name for a kid. At least until he/she figures out what it means.

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