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Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

by Thomas Pynchon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,020134606 (4.07)1 / 459
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)
  1. 90
    Ulysses by James Joyce (Jen7r)
  2. 70
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Books that cause neuroses.
  3. 42
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Gravity's Rainbow = paranoia House of Leaves = claustrophobia
  4. 00
    Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen (charlie68)
    charlie68: Written in the same style. I felt like taking a shower after reading, warm and cold.
  5. 11
    Ratner's Star by Don DeLillo (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: 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. 44
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (ateolf)
  7. 00
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
1970s (8)
2022 (2)
Books (6)

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» See also 459 mentions

English (131)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)

Even though I got very little out of this, it was a fun wild trip...not ride. Is Pynchon on LSD or is he crazy or just a weird writer?

Erections, chaos, erections, bananas, erections, squids, erections, military, erections, WWII, erections, Shirley Temple, erections, some kind of plot, and last but not least ERECTIONS. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
If you were going to adapt Gravity's Rainbow to a film, you'd have to use at least three or four different visual styles. Some scenes would look like a Neo Rausch painting. Others would be straight up retro comic book, with Lichtenstein dots, "ker-PLOW"s and "pLUNK!s" next to the action. Still others would be styled after a cubist painting titled "Girls Dancing in a Field" where you look at it and think: "Huh, where are the girls? Hell, for that matter where is the field?"

I love how abstract Pynchon's prose can be. Who else ever described seagulls flying over a beach as "faro folds off invisible thumbs"? But the "difficulty" here is vastly overrated, in my opinion. I found having a dictionary nearby more necessary than the notorious reference books - even if you don't know the exact Cary Grant movie Pynchon is referencing, when he says that someone flashes a "Cary Grant smile" you can pretty well work out what that means through context clues. On the other hand, there's no way I could have gotten through this without adding a few words to my vocabulary. Finding words like "moiré" and "sastrugi" gave me an experience like you have reading articles titled "Huh, [Exotic Foreign Tongue] Really Has a Word For That?" with my own language.

Pynchon often travels through digressions that don't supply the central context they're revolving around until you've arrived at the end - so you learn to read through confusing bits by going faster, instead of slowing down to try to parse each individual segment. All you really have to do is give his descriptions the benefit of the doubt enough to keep moving. Come on folks, important plot informations is given by an invincible light bulb telling his life story of traveling from ceiling to ceiling while being pursued by a lightbulb cartel - how can you think of this as Serious, Difficult Literature? ( )
1 vote thecrackstreetboys | Jul 4, 2022 |
I just couldn't like this book and several times I almost quit. If it had been a movie I would've popped out the DVD fairly quickly as it crossed a lot of my red lines. Why did I go on? Well it's a modern classic right? It's probably good for me. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, though. In running for the dirtiest book I've ever read. Ulysses by James Joyce and Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen are also in the running. ( )
  charlie68 | Jul 3, 2022 |
One of my favorite books of all time. About everything and about nothing. I know a lot of people consider it unreadable. It did take me three goes just to really get into it. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Delightful. I'm going to read this again, right now. ( )
  jdegagne | Apr 23, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
There’s a dirty secret tucked away in Thomas Pynchon’s novels, and it’s this: beyond all the postmodernism and paranoia, the anarchism and socialism, the investigations into global power, the forays into labor politics and feminism and critical race theory, the rocket science, the fourth-dimensional mathematics, the philatelic conspiracies, the ’60s radicalism and everything else that has spawned 70 or 80 monographs, probably twice as many dissertations, and hundreds if not thousands of scholarly essays, his novels are full of cheesy love stories.
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 (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pynchon, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britto, Paulo HenriquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doury, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fučík, ZdeněkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gryzunovoĭ, AnastasiiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jelinek, ElfriedeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koshikawa, YoshiakiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kunz, AnitaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindholm, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, FrankCover artistsecondary 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
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"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)
For Richard Farina
First words
A screaming comes across the sky.
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.
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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.

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