Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon publishes “high quality, rigorously reviewed and innovative scholarly material on the works of Thomas Pynchon, related authors and peripheral (adjacent) fields.” It is a rolling format journal published in the Open Journal Systems platform with no fees or charges at any stage in its production or dissemination. Material here is published as soon as it is ready for publication, after a double-blind peer review process.
Each issue of Orbit typically contains research Articles, Letters and Notes, and Reviews of books by and about Pynchon. On the main page sits this 2011 quote from critic Harold Bloom: “Certainly he is still the most important writer alive,” and the content echoes that assessment, with such articles as, “All Maps Were Useless - Resisting Genre and Recovering Spirituality in Pynchon's Against the Day, “’Sell Out With Me Tonight’: Popular Music, Commercialization and Commodification in Vineland, The Crying of Lot 49, and V.,” and “Gravity in Gravity’s Rainbow – Force, Fictitious Force, and Frame of Reference; or: The Science and Poetry of Sloth,” to name a few from the most recent issue.
The Note from Letters and Notes in that issue is on Bleeding Edge’s “Unsheltered,” and discusses the change of the word “unhoused” in an advanced reading copy of the book to the word “unsheltered” used in the final printed edition, and how that change “distances the text from the only characters in the scene to whom we might attribute the perception of unsheltered people.” As you can see, the study about Pynchon is very granular here.
Letters and Notes also issues calls for papers; in the most recent issue a call for papers was issued for International Pynchon Week 2015 to be held in Athens, Greece, in June 2015; another issue announces a call for papers for a Don DeLillo Special Issue of Orbit, to be published in 2016. The Reviews section in the latest issue offers two reviews, of Luc Herman and Steven Weisenburger’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Domination, and Freedom, and of Science and American Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries, edited by Claire Maniez, Ronan Ludot-Vlasak, and Frederic Dumas, which contains two essays about Pynchon. Each item in each issue is followed by Article Metrics, graphic metrics illustrating the number of PDF and HTML views of that article on a monthly and yearly basis.
Any library serving serious Pynchon researchers will want to include this title in its catalog for easy access by scholars. If you’re subscribing to Pynchon Notes (0278-1891) you will definitely want to offer access to this title, which is indexed by the MLA International Bibliography.