English, Department of


Date of this Version



Wisnicki A., 2001. “A Trove of New Works by Thomas Pynchon? Bomarc Service News Rediscovered”, Pynchon Notes 46, pp 9-34. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/pn.88


Early in 1960, after having graduated from Cornell and while writing V., Thomas Pynchon moved to Seattle and began working for the Boeing Airplane Company. What Pynchon did while working at Boeing has puzzled scholars almost from the moment of the very private author's literary debut. When we try to delve into his stint at Boeing first mentioned by Lewis Nichols and Dick Schaap--we reach dead ends or find conflicting information. Yet Pynchon's time at Boeing is perhaps the most documented period of his life, and over the years a number of interesting (though not always accurate) bits of information have emerged.

Here I first recount the previous scholarship on this phase of Pynchon's career and consider its weaknesses. Next, I detail my own research and conclusions, namely that while at Boeing, Pynchon wrote primarily for an internal newsletter--none of whose articles have bylines --called Bomarc Service News (first mentioned by Richard Lane), and that in two and a half years of work he produced some twenty-five to thirty technical articles for this newsletter. I discuss these articles and the criteria for attributing their authorship, and finish with a comprehensive annotated list of those I attribute to Pynchon. In this way, I hope to solve what has been one of the longest-running mysteries in Pynchon scholarship, as well as bring to light the depth and range of Pynchon's expertise on the Bomarc missile--an expertise which almost certainly inspired and underlies Gravity's Rainbow.