I was only 17 but longed for a radical transvaluation of my life. I’d grown bored with my trifling mendacity and skeptical of Rand’s righteous dogmatism and maladroit prose, skeptical less about her truth than her usefulness to whatever game I was playing. I shed all my allegiances. I quit marching band, math team, drama club. I was kicked off the cross-country team for insubordination. When I spotted the ad for American Summit in the paper that November, I was spending most my time skipping school to get lunch at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet—or, once, to pick up the latest Tool album from Best Buy—before going home to read Gravity’s Rainbow. Pynchon’s humor, elaborately linguistic and stupidly slapstick, seduced me, quietly and over the long run, toward his politics of the marginal, the liberatory, the ephemerally utopian.