HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Loading...

Gravity's Rainbow (original 1973; edition 2000)

by Thomas Pynchon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,51685459 (4.12)1 / 353
Member:aketzle
Title:Gravity's Rainbow
Authors:Thomas Pynchon
Info:Penguin Books (2000), Edition: Later Printing, Paperback, 784 pages
Collections:Currently reading
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)

  1. 80
    Ulysses by James Joyce (Jen7r)
  2. 60
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Books that cause neuroses.
  3. 52
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Gravity's Rainbow = paranoia House of Leaves = claustrophobia
  4. 10
    The Atrocity Exhibition by J. G. Ballard (StevenTX)
  5. 00
    Ratner's Star by Don DeLillo (rickyrickyricky)
    rickyrickyricky: Like Pynchon? Like DeLillo? Here we gots DeLillo's enthusiastic and goofy response to his own, favorable experience with Pynchon's most famous monsterwork. Wit, mathematical math and DeLillo dialogue.
  6. 00
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
  7. 00
    Insatiability by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (StevenTX)
  8. 34
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (ateolf)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (83)  Italian (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
So it took me eight months to read Gravity's Rainbow. How can that be, when (1) this was my second trip through the phantasmagoria; and (2) this novel is regularly cited as one of the great works of 20th Century American fiction--to say nothing of its author's reputation as a genius?

Forget for a moment that I am no genius and can hardly hope to understand how the mind of such a creature thinks. My readerly struggle with the book might have to do with Pynchon's narrative method (if a practice so seemingly undisciplined, slipshod, and self-indulgent might be so-called). I kept putting the story aside because Pynchon does exactly the same: he suspends not just the action (what non-genius novelists call a profluent plot) but also time and place, as well as almost all discernible signs of any character's presence, by slipping, falling, lapsing, plunging, and, yes, wallowing in digressive, discursive side-trips through mental reaches of rarefied abstraction at a rate of a thousand words, or more.

Ladies and gentlemen, it won't do. A novel is a great, big, baggy monster (secundum H. James), but most readers prefer it to retain a semblance of order and form. Gravity's Rainbow possesses these qualities so slightly--or so obscurely--as hardly to possess them at all, even to the point of placing in question its status as a single, unified narrative. Oh yes, I know V-2s are falling in the opening pages and that 00000 is a second from detonating at the end. Very nice, this apocalyptic framing. And yet what, I wonder, has become of friend Tyrone, Puritan-descended Slothrop, our paranoid, sort-of protagonist and maybe-against-his-will rocket-fetishist, who vanishes from the novel's final forty pages (unless it's all happening in his mind; hmmm ... guess I'll have to read it again).

So why the four stars at the top of this review? Well, folks, the fact is that the best moments in the novel are truly wonderful: entertaining, moving, interesting, memorable. I'm thinking especially of Slothrop's romantic interlude with--no no no, not Katje Borgesius (Borges-ius? ... oh ...): that business is good ol' seasonal sex (it's springtime, as the novel's calendar-mappers have helpfully noted)--but rather, yes, Geli Tripping, manifestly a German witch but oh how sexy and funny is Slothrop's brief time with her. Or his even briefer liaison with an unnamed German girl, a printer's daughter, during and after the Schweinheld festival: it's so simple and sweet and truly felt, seems so real notwithstanding Slothrop's pig-suit get-up, and begins and ends so quickly that it would be easy to miss except that it so completely refreshes the narrative atmosphere that you can't help notice you've stopped holding your breath against the lung-crushing miasma of Pynchon's more ambitious and pretentious longueurs.

The lucid, alive moments are sharply, beautifully rendered, particular in detail, so vivid as to become almost palpable. Some of these are delightfully comic, others, razor-nasty, and each one makes the author's detours into discursive murk all the more regrettable. Pynchon does it on purpose, of course, and I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him; and yet, did he understand the harm he was doing to his story? In being self-consciously Post-Modernist--and no less self-consciously rewriting Moby-Dick, with the Rocket standing-in (yes, that is the correct verb) for the White Whale and an array of Rocket-besotted grotesques amalgamating Ahab's monomania (without, it ought to be noted, rising to half the height of the Captain's sinister menace)--he is also, perhaps unwittingly (despite his genius), laying his narrative open to criticisms of addled art and incompetent craft.

To argue that the narrative is carefully-designed to trace the shape of a parabola (oh, I get it--gravity's rainbow, wow) or insist that intermittent recurrences of certain motifs, images, metaphors, and so forth organize these 700-plus pages as a mandala is besides the point, really, when the reader cannot perceive any such shape during the course of his reading. It's a fine diversion, I suppose, to map it all out afterward, to flow-chart rectangular boxes marked "tarot" and "pagan ritual" and "Christian holy day" with page numbers sedulously inscribed, and maybe it's even a pale kind of almost-fun to re-read the novel with such a guide at one's elbow--and yet, is that how we most enjoy reading a story? What is the good or purpose of a narrative structured as a mandala or a parabola or anything else if the bewildered, exasperated reader's experience of reading it is so recurrently tedious, confusing, dull, and alienating?

A more satisfying explanation of the wander and drift one feels in reading Gravity's Rainbow is that the novel is a picaresque--the most famous example being Don Quixote and the first incarnation in Anglo-American literature being Tom Jones: The History of a Foundling. Read as a Post-Modernist picaresque, Gravity's Rainbow might easily, and perhaps too simplistically, be understood as a death-haunted dark farce featuring a hero on the run--a fair description of another W.W.II-based picaresque, Catch-22 (orig. pub. 1961), with which Pynchon's meisterwerk has much in common. Gravity's Rainbow obliges us to travel a macabre and dangerous road, however festooned its main lines and back alleys (and, yes, waterways) might be with antic billboards, jokey signposts, juvenile (when it is not puerile) humor, and bizarre human (arche)types masquerading as realistic characters. It will surprise no one who has read the novel that, in this construction, its hero is not Tyrone Slothrop but rather the Rocket; for it is the Rocket that is this story's overarching (literally) über-presence: the virtual mensch and consummate system (preeminent in a narrative preoccupied with systems) that the book's unraveling plot follows from its beginning ("A screaming comes across the sky") to its end. In this story of the Rocket, Slothrop is nothing but adjunct and fellow-traveler.

Would that Pynchon had omitted the most disengaging of his many digressions! Cutting 200 pages would have allowed the really fine, interesting, compelling moments to make a greater claim on the attention of a less-weary reader. A finer, stronger, shorter, better-loved and more memorable novel would have been the result. And it would have been the same novel: rendered the same experiences, proposed the same ideas, explored the same questions, broached the same terrible truth, i.e., that totalitarian systems-builders everywhere are in love with Death and we, to the extent that we are their acolytes and abettors, are unconsciously caught-up in working to exterminate our own species. It's much too late, of course, for revision, which in any case is unnecessary: published in 1973, Gravity's Rainbow won the 1974 National Book Award, has been called the most accomplished and profound American novel published since W.W.II, heads or is near the top of every list of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, and established Thomas Pynchon as the reigning genius (whatever that means) of Post-Modernist American fiction. Brilliant in conception, excessive in execution, Gravity's Rainbow persists as one of the difficult, infuriating great novels with which serious readers of American fiction must wrestle. ( )
  bookie53 | Jul 26, 2015 |
So it took me eight months to read Gravity's Rainbow. How can that be, when (1) this was my second trip through the phantasmagoria; and (2) this novel is regularly cited as one of the great works of 20th Century American fiction--to say nothing of its author's reputation as a genius?

Forget for a moment that I am no genius and can hardly hope to understand how the mind of such a creature thinks. My readerly struggle with the book might have to do with Pynchon's narrative method (if a practice so seemingly undisciplined, slipshod, and self-indulgent might be so-called). I kept putting the story aside because Pynchon does exactly the same: he suspends not just the action (what non-genius novelists call a profluent plot) but also time and place, as well as almost all discernible signs of any character's presence, by slipping, falling, lapsing, plunging, and, yes, wallowing in digressive, discursive side-trips through mental reaches of rarefied abstraction at a rate of a thousand words, or more.

Ladies and gentlemen, it won't do. A novel is a great, big, baggy monster (secundum H. James), but most readers prefer it to retain a semblance of order and form. Gravity's Rainbow possesses these qualities so slightly--or so obscurely--as hardly to possess them at all, even to the point of placing in question its status as a single, unified narrative. Oh yes, I know V-2s are falling in the opening pages and that 00000 is a second from detonating at the end. Very nice, this apocalyptic framing. And yet what, I wonder, has become of friend Tyrone, Puritan-descended Slothrop, our paranoid, sort-of protagonist and maybe-against-his-will rocket-fetishist, who vanishes from the novel's final forty pages (unless it's all happening in his mind; hmmm ... guess I'll have to read it again).

So why the four stars at the top of this review? Well, folks, the fact is that the best moments in the novel are truly wonderful: entertaining, moving, interesting, memorable. I'm thinking especially of Slothrop's romantic interlude with--no no no, not Katje Borgesius (Borges-ius? ... oh ...): that business is good ol' seasonal sex (it's springtime, as the novel's calendar-mappers have helpfully noted)--but rather, yes, Geli Tripping, manifestly a German witch but oh how sexy and funny is Slothrop's brief time with her. Or his even briefer liaison with an unnamed German girl, a printer's daughter, during and after the Schweinheld festival: it's so simple and sweet and truly felt, seems so real notwithstanding Slothrop's pig-suit get-up, and begins and ends so quickly that it would be easy to miss except that it so completely refreshes the narrative atmosphere that you can't help notice you've stopped holding your breath against the lung-crushing miasma of Pynchon's more ambitious and pretentious longueurs.

The lucid, alive moments are sharply, beautifully rendered, particular in detail, so vivid as to become almost palpable. Some of these are delightfully comic, others, razor-nasty, and each one makes the author's detours into discursive murk all the more regrettable. Pynchon does it on purpose, of course, and I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him; and yet, did he understand the harm he was doing to his story? In being self-consciously Post-Modernist--and no less self-consciously rewriting Moby-Dick, with the Rocket standing-in (yes, that is the correct verb) for the White Whale and an array of Rocket-besotted grotesques amalgamating Ahab's monomania (without, it ought to be noted, rising to half the height of the Captain's sinister menace)--he is also, perhaps unwittingly (despite his genius), laying his narrative open to criticisms of addled art and incompetent craft.

To argue that the narrative is carefully-designed to trace the shape of a parabola (oh, I get it--gravity's rainbow, wow) or insist that intermittent recurrences of certain motifs, images, metaphors, and so forth organize these 700-plus pages as a mandala is besides the point, really, when the reader cannot perceive any such shape during the course of his reading. It's a fine diversion, I suppose, to map it all out afterward, to flow-chart rectangular boxes marked "tarot" and "pagan ritual" and "Christian holy day" with page numbers sedulously inscribed, and maybe it's even a pale kind of almost-fun to re-read the novel with such a guide at one's elbow--and yet, is that how we most enjoy reading a story? What is the good or purpose of a narrative structured as a mandala or a parabola or anything else if the bewildered, exasperated reader's experience of reading it is so recurrently tedious, confusing, dull, and alienating?

A more satisfying explanation of the wander and drift one feels in reading Gravity's Rainbow is that the novel is a picaresque--the most famous example being Don Quixote and the first incarnation in Anglo-American literature being Tom Jones: The History of a Foundling. Read as a Post-Modernist picaresque, Gravity's Rainbow might easily, and perhaps too simplistically, be understood as a death-haunted dark farce featuring a hero on the run--a fair description of another W.W.II-based picaresque, Catch-22 (orig. pub. 1961), with which Pynchon's meisterwerk has much in common. Gravity's Rainbow obliges us to travel a macabre and dangerous road, however festooned its main lines and back alleys (and, yes, waterways) might be with antic billboards, jokey signposts, juvenile (when it is not puerile) humor, and bizarre human (arche)types masquerading as realistic characters. It will surprise no one who has read the novel that, in this construction, its hero is not Tyrone Slothrop but rather the Rocket; for it is the Rocket that is this story's overarching (literally) über-presence: the virtual mensch and consummate system (preeminent in a narrative preoccupied with systems) that the book's unraveling plot follows from its beginning ("A screaming comes across the sky") to its end. In this story of the Rocket, Slothrop is nothing but adjunct and fellow-traveler.

Would that Pynchon had omitted the most disengaging of his many digressions! Cutting 200 pages would have allowed the really fine, interesting, compelling moments to make a greater claim on the attention of a less-weary reader. A finer, stronger, shorter, better-loved and more memorable novel would have been the result. And it would have been the same novel: rendered the same experiences, proposed the same ideas, explored the same questions, broached the same terrible truth, i.e., that totalitarian systems-builders everywhere are in love with Death and we, to the extent that we are their acolytes and abettors, are unconsciously caught-up in working to exterminate our own species. It's much too late, of course, for revision, which in any case is unnecessary: published in 1973, Gravity's Rainbow won the 1974 National Book Award, has been called the most accomplished and profound American novel published since W.W.II, heads or is near the top of every list of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, and established Thomas Pynchon as the reigning genius (whatever that means) of Post-Modernist American fiction. Brilliant in conception, excessive in execution, Gravity's Rainbow persists as one of the difficult, infuriating great novels with which serious readers of American fiction must wrestle. ( )
  bookie53 | Jul 26, 2015 |
So it took me eight months to read Gravity's Rainbow. How can that be, when (1) this was my second trip through the phantasmagoria; and (2) this novel is regularly cited as one of the great works of 20th Century American fiction--to say nothing of its author's reputation as a genius?

Forget for a moment that I am no genius and can hardly hope to understand how the mind of such a creature thinks. My readerly struggle with the book might have to do with Pynchon's narrative method (if a practice so seemingly undisciplined, slipshod, and self-indulgent might be so-called). I kept putting the story aside because Pynchon does exactly the same: he suspends not just the action (what non-genius novelists call a profluent plot) but also time and place, as well as almost all discernible signs of any character's presence, by slipping, falling, lapsing, plunging, and, yes, wallowing in digressive, discursive side-trips through mental reaches of rarefied abstraction at a rate of a thousand words, or more.

Ladies and gentlemen, it won't do. A novel is a great, big, baggy monster (secundum H. James), but most readers prefer it to retain a semblance of order and form. Gravity's Rainbow possesses these qualities so slightly--or so obscurely--as hardly to possess them at all, even to the point of placing in question its status as a single, unified narrative. Oh yes, I know V-2s are falling in the opening pages and that 00000 is a second from detonating at the end. Very nice, this apocalyptic framing. And yet what, I wonder, has become of friend Tyrone, Puritan-descended Slothrop, our paranoid, sort-of protagonist and maybe-against-his-will rocket-fetishist, who vanishes from the novel's final forty pages (unless it's all happening in his mind; hmmm ... guess I'll have to read it again).

So why the four stars at the top of this review? Well, folks, the fact is that the best moments in the novel are truly wonderful: entertaining, moving, interesting, memorable. I'm thinking especially of Slothrop's romantic interlude with--no no no, not Katje Borgesius (Borges-ius? ... oh ...): that business is good ol' seasonal sex (it's springtime, as the novel's calendar-mappers have helpfully noted)--but rather, yes, Geli Tripping, manifestly a German witch but oh how sexy and funny is Slothrop's brief time with her. Or his even briefer liaison with an unnamed German girl, a printer's daughter, during and after the Schweinheld festival: it's so simple and sweet and truly felt, seems so real notwithstanding Slothrop's pig-suit get-up, and begins and ends so quickly that it would be easy to miss except that it so completely refreshes the narrative atmosphere that you can't help notice you've stopped holding your breath against the lung-crushing miasma of Pynchon's more ambitious and pretentious longueurs.

The lucid, alive moments are sharply, beautifully rendered, particular in detail, so vivid as to become almost palpable. Some of these are delightfully comic, others, razor-nasty, and each one makes the author's detours into discursive murk all the more regrettable. Pynchon does it on purpose, of course, and I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him; and yet, did he understand the harm he was doing to his story? In being self-consciously Post-Modernist--and no less self-consciously rewriting Moby-Dick, with the Rocket standing-in (yes, that is the correct verb) for the White Whale and an array of Rocket-besotted grotesques amalgamating Ahab's monomania (without, it ought to be noted, rising to half the height of the Captain's sinister menace)--he is also, perhaps unwittingly (despite his genius), laying his narrative open to criticisms of addled art and incompetent craft.

To argue that the narrative is carefully-designed to trace the shape of a parabola (oh, I get it--gravity's rainbow, wow) or insist that intermittent recurrences of certain motifs, images, metaphors, and so forth organize these 700-plus pages as a mandala is besides the point, really, when the reader cannot perceive any such shape during the course of his reading. It's a fine diversion, I suppose, to map it all out afterward, to flow-chart rectangular boxes marked "tarot" and "pagan ritual" and "Christian holy day" with page numbers sedulously inscribed, and maybe it's even a pale kind of almost-fun to re-read the novel with such a guide at one's elbow--and yet, is that how we most enjoy reading a story? What is the good or purpose of a narrative structured as a mandala or a parabola or anything else if the bewildered, exasperated reader's experience of reading it is so recurrently tedious, confusing, dull, and alienating?

A more satisfying explanation of the wander and drift one feels in reading Gravity's Rainbow is that the novel is a picaresque--the most famous example being Don Quixote and the first incarnation in Anglo-American literature being Tom Jones: The History of a Foundling. Read as a Post-Modernist picaresque, Gravity's Rainbow might easily, and perhaps too simplistically, be understood as a death-haunted dark farce featuring a hero on the run--a fair description of another W.W.II-based picaresque, Catch-22 (orig. pub. 1961), with which Pynchon's meisterwerk has much in common. Gravity's Rainbow obliges us to travel a macabre and dangerous road, however festooned its main lines and back alleys (and, yes, waterways) might be with antic billboards, jokey signposts, juvenile (when it is not puerile) humor, and bizarre human (arche)types masquerading as realistic characters. It will surprise no one who has read the novel that, in this construction, its hero is not Tyrone Slothrop but rather the Rocket; for it is the Rocket that is this story's overarching (literally) über-presence: the virtual mensch and consummate system (preeminent in a narrative preoccupied with systems) that the book's unraveling plot follows from its beginning ("A screaming comes across the sky") to its end. In this story of the Rocket, Slothrop is nothing but adjunct and fellow-traveler.

Would that Pynchon had omitted the most disengaging of his many digressions! Cutting 200 pages would have allowed the really fine, interesting, compelling moments to make a greater claim on the attention of a less-weary reader. A finer, stronger, shorter, better-loved and more memorable novel would have been the result. And it would have been the same novel: rendered the same experiences, proposed the same ideas, explored the same questions, broached the same terrible truth, i.e., that totalitarian systems-builders everywhere are in love with Death and we, to the extent that we are their acolytes and abettors, are unconsciously caught-up in working to exterminate our own species. It's much too late, of course, for revision, which in any case is unnecessary: published in 1973, Gravity's Rainbow won the 1974 National Book Award, has been called the most accomplished and profound American novel published since W.W.II, heads or is near the top of every list of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, and established Thomas Pynchon as the reigning genius (whatever that means) of Post-Modernist American fiction. Brilliant in conception, excessive in execution, Gravity's Rainbow persists as one of the difficult, infuriating great novels with which serious readers of American fiction must wrestle. ( )
  bookie53 | Jul 26, 2015 |
Bowed out half way, hit a point of diminishing returns. ( )
  DavidCLDriedger | Apr 22, 2015 |
Infinite Jest's cranky uncle - the hardest book I've ever read. There are 900 pages and 400 characters, and far more casual paedophilia than I'm used to, but despite my difficulties, it's obviously a work of (mad) genius. I even managed to enjoy some passages - the Anubis orgy, Ilse's impostors - but am mainly relieved to be finished. ( )
1 vote alexrichman | Mar 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
Those who have read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow know that those 700+ pages add up to more than just a novel; it’s an experience. The hundreds of characters are difficult to follow, the plot is nonsensical, sex is graphically depicted, drugs are smoked out of a kazoo and a poor light bulb goes through many humiliating experiences. But the brilliance of Gravity’s Rainbow is not in spite of its oddness but because of it.
 
Like one of his main characters, Pynchon in this book seems almost to be "in love, in sexual love, with his own death." His imagination--for all its glorious power and intelligence--is as limited in its way as Céline's or Jonathan Swift's. His novel is in this sense a work of paranoid genius, a magnificent necropolis that will take its place amidst the grand detritus of our culture. Its teetering structure is greater by far than the many surrounding literary shacks and hovels. But we must look to other writers for food and warmth.
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pynchon, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britto, Paulo HenriquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doury, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fučík, ZdeněkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gryzunovoĭ, AnastasiiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jelinek, ElfriedeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koshikawa, YoshiakiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindholm, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, FrankCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Natale, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nemt︠s︡ova, MaksimaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, Hans-JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ondráčková, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pigrau i Rodríguez, AntoniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piltz, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sudół, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zabel, IgorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
"Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death." - Wernher von Braun (Beyond the Zero)
"You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood." - Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray (Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering)
"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more...." - Dorothy, arriving in Oz (In the Zone)
"What?" - Richard M. Nixon (The Counterforce)
Dedication
For Richard Farina
First words
A screaming comes across the sky.
Quotations
This classic hustle is still famous, even today, for the cold purity of its execution: bring opium from India, introduce it into China - howdy Fong, this here's opium, opium, this is Fong - ah, so, me eatee! - no-ho-ho, Fong, you smokee, [smokee], see? pretty soon Fong's coming back for more and more, so you create an inelastic demand for the shit, get China to make it illegal, then sucker China into a couple-three disastrous wars over the right of your merchants to sell opium, which by now you are describing as sacred. You win, China loses. Fantastic.

A former self is a fool, an insufferable ass, but he's still human, you'd no more turn him out than you'd turn out any other kind of cripple, would you?
They'll always tell you fathers are 'taken,' but fathers only leave - that's what it really is. The fathers are all covering for each other, that's all.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answer.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143039946, Paperback)

Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant opening sentence), "a screaming comes across the sky," heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. The novel's title, Gravity's Rainbow, refers to the rocket's vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again. History has been a big trick: the plan is to switch from floods to obliterating fire from the sky.

Slothrop's father was an unwitting part of the cosmic doublecross. To provide for the boy's future Harvard education, he took cash from the mad German scientist Laszlo Jamf, who performed Pavlovian experiments on the infant Tyrone. Laszlo invented Imipolex G, a new plastic useful in rocket insulation, and conditioned Tyrone's privates to respond to its presence. Now the grown-up Tyrone helplessly senses the Imipolex G in incoming V-2s, and his military superiors are investigating him. Soon he is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany.

That's just the Imipolex G tip of the shrieking vehicle that is Pynchon's book. It's pretty much impossible to follow a standard plot; one must have faith that each manic episode is connected with the great plot to blow up the world with the ultimate rocket. There is not one story, but a proliferation of characters (Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, Tantivy Mucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more) and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns only just past our comprehension. You will enjoy Pynchon's cartoon inferno far more if you consult Steven Weisenburger's brief companion to the novel, which sorts out Pynchon's blizzard of references to science, history, high culture, and the lowest of jokes. Rest easy: there really is a simple reason why Kekulé von Stradonitz's dream about a serpent biting its tail (which solved the structure of the benzene molecule) belongs in the same novel as the comic-book-hero Plastic Man.

Pynchon doesn't want you to rest easy with solved mysteries, though. Gravity's Rainbow uses beautiful prose to induce an altered state of consciousness, a buzz. It's a trip, and it will last. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
1111 wanted
3 pay3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.12)
0.5 7
1 34
1.5 4
2 51
2.5 15
3 131
3.5 32
4 258
4.5 59
5 510

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,153,197 books! | Top bar: Always visible