Published in 1959, "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna" was Thomas Pynchon's second story and the only one of his early works not included in "Slow Learner". The genesis of the story according to Deane Rink who was an English major at Cornell at the same time as Pynchon: [The lecturer] tried to light a fire under them one day by writing a random sentence on the board and asking everybody in class to start off with that sentence and write for the whole hour. Pynchon refused to turn his paper in at hour's end, but walked across the hall to the English Dept office and continued to scribble away for another hour; whereupon, Pynchon finally handed in the story. The story was "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna" which subsequently was published in Epoch, a literary magazine published by Cornell.
Used availability for Thomas Pynchon's Mortality and Mercy in Vienna
April 1991 : UK Hardback
September 1976 : UK Paperback