Jenn(ifer)'s Reviews > Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
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Jun 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-f-ing-stars, beach-reads, dark, game-changers, giggles, read-in-2012, the-tops, you-should-read-this, own, gr-group-coreads, my-reviews-that-dont-suck, national-book-award-winners
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the literati
Recommended for: degenerates
Read from May 10 to June 07, 2012


First off, a song: this was supposedly influenced by Gravity's Raibow. HA!

This one's for you Slothrop & Bodine (I had no idea that there actually were zoot suit riots! Everything I've learned, I've learned from reading books. Crappy public school education...)

Where to begin?!

Regarding the creation of this novel, it has been said, “ Pynchon sequestered himself in a room, writing the novel out by hand, filling sheet after sheet of graph paper with the precise script of an Engineer. Perched atop this stack of papers was his small offering to the Muse, a totem of invocative magic: a rocket formed from "a pencil type eraser (the kind from which you peel off the corkscrew wrapper) with a needle in its nose, and a re-formed paper clip serving as a launching pad." The working title of his draft was Mindless Pleasures…”

Mindless Pleasures.
Well, that suits, doesn’t it? Despite the varied themes and fragmented plot lines, it all comes down to one thing: Slothrop’s magical penis. This man is so blessed that he is able to make women orgasm upon entry! Natürlich! Now that’s something. Who needs porn when you have Pynchon? However…

There comes a time when the ability to sincerely shock your reader reaches a threshold, after that, nothing you write will cause me to so much as raise an eyebrow. This point came for me about half-way through the novel (maybe a little further) with the whole incest bit. Pynchon threw in just about every taboo subject there is, and maybe even made up a few new ones. After awhile, it wasn’t so shocking or interesting anymore, it just became vulgar. Oh, Slothrop screwed another farm animal? Yawn… Okay, so I don’t think he actually screwed any farm animals, but he did just about everything else. Or did he? Hmmm… I think he must have a very vivid imagination. I mean, the guy is pretty tubby, and he’s traveling around Western Europe in pig suits and zoot suits and Rocketman suits. Where I come from, the ladies aren’t dying to drop trou for a guy like that. Yet women seem to be flocking to our friend Slothrop. But who am I to judge, there was a war going on! Oh yeah, there’s a war going on…

When sir Slothrop isn’t getting laid, some interesting ideas are presented. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the lascivious prose, but when you allow yourself to ignore all of that, what you are left with is brilliant BRILLIANT writing. Pynchon tackles the Big Issues without blinking an eye: the preterite vs. the elect, metaphysics, death,War; don’t forget about the war.

This was far and away THE FUNNIEST book I’ve ever read. I mean, come on, pie fights in hot air balloons, nasal erections, silly songs, a trained octopus, Byron the Bulb(?)... and hundreds of kazoos!

Pynchon likes to keep you on your toes. There’s no such thing as “casually reading” this book. You have to pay attention, otherwise you’ll end up in another country with a whole new cast of characters in another time period and have NO IDEA how you ended up there (he uses analepses early and often). Characters may change names without notice(as with von Goll/der Springer and Weissman/Capt. Blicero).

I will not make claims that this is a perfect novel. There were times when I felt like Pynchon was beating me over the head with a hammer, times when the vulgarity was too much to take, the slapstick humor way too over the top. But those moments paled in comparison to the joy I felt reading this novel.

But don’t take my word for it: the proof of the Pudding is in the eating. Uh, or something *wink.*

(I’m going to go now and drop some acid and read this thing again.)

***********************
Casting for the part of Slothrop:

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Or:

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Or finally:

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**A note to those who wish to read this book: it should come with a warning label DO NOT READ WHILE EATING. Poor Major Marvy, I'm lookin' at you.
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Reading Progress

05/13/2012 page 70
9.0% "Am I gonna get hit by a shit storm if I say I'm just not digging this right now? Maybe my mind hasn't fully recovered from Ulysses yet. Imma give it 50 more pages, and if I'm still not digging it, it'll go back up on the shelf until I'm ready to try again." 8 comments
05/17/2012 page 120
15.0% 4 comments
05/19/2012 page 183
24.0% "I am catching the War. It is infecting me." 3 comments
05/21/2012 page 222
29.0% "'the penis he thought was his own' HA!"
05/21/2012 page 240
31.0% "Coprophagia? Really Pynchon? Glad I didn't read that delightful scene on my lunch break!"
05/22/2012 page 285
37.0% "part drei" 4 comments
05/23/2012 page 305
39.0% 9 comments
05/24/2012 page 320
41.0% "I need to read this entire 'Erdschweinhohle" episode again.What the? What?" 8 comments
05/27/2012 page 425
55.0% "oh no, it's half over!" 1 comment
05/28/2012 page 450
58.0% "nasal hardon, now that's a new one" 1 comment
05/29/2012 page 476
61.0% "ummmm.... uhhh... did that really just happen? I feel dirty." 9 comments
05/30/2012 page 515
66.0% "Is there some sort of point to this whole thing? If so, it may have gotten lost amongst all the fornicating." 5 comments
05/31/2012 page 542
70.0% "oh Pudding, you had to have seen that one coming!" 4 comments
06/05/2012 page 631
81.0% "part 4! "black neckerchiefs whipping about like the mustaches of epileptic villains..." Oh Pynchon, you funny, funny man"
06/05/2012 page 631
81.0% "part 4! "black neckerchiefs whipping about like the mustaches of epileptic villains..." Oh Pynchon, you funny, funny man" 2 comments
06/05/2012 page 653
84.0% ""for every They there ought to be a We""
06/06/2012 page 700
90.0% 11 comments
03/23/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 100) (100 new)


message 1: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Have fun!


Mark And so it goes begins!


Mark It's for the best, Jenn. After 120 pages, you'll have given it a tremendous shot. I think I could like it, but I'm with you: I don't know that right now is the best time for it. I'll be the devil on your shoulder: Wanna read Anna?


j. ergo I cut a tiny chunk out of my review for Gravity's Rainbow to offer as encouragement to all for whenever they get around to reading the book.

I started GR about 7 years ago for the first time and made it just shy of the 200 pp. mark before real life, in general, and my second year of fatherhood, specifically, intervened. When I tried to pick it up a month later, all was lost. I knew within 10 pp. I would have to start over, and I just didn't have the wherewithal at the time. A few years later I started fresh and made it past the 250 pp. mark before some more serious matters put a sudden halt to that. But, in addition to knowing it was pointless taking up where I left off, I learned a new lesson. I realized I hadn't really understood a thing the first time I started it. Rereading the exact same 200 pp. was akin to discovering that I'd tried to read it in Mandarin the first time. Now skip ahead, just short of a year. I happened to have a copy of The Crying of Lot 49 on a long flight. I’d read and enjoyed it in high school, but really didn't get it because I wasn't smart enough yet. Four hours later I finished it and began to really settle into Pynchon's groove. For some reason, when I got home I decided to read V. instead of giving GR another go. Though it is a challenging and long work, I devoured it in an extremely satisfactory manner in a matter of weeks. A few months later, about six months ago, I once again started GR from the beginning; and though I've taken, at times, up to a week off and finished six or seven other books in the same time period, today I finished.

That was several months ago, but the point is to enjoy as much as long as you can. It will help enormously in a year when GR starts peeking out from yer bookshelf.


Jenn(ifer) Mark wrote: "It's for the best, Jenn. After 120 pages, you'll have given it a tremendous shot. I think I could like it, but I'm with you: I don't know that right now is the best time for it. I'll be the devil o..."

HA! I have not yet admitted defeat (gimme a week and ask me a again).


Jenn(ifer) J. Ergo wrote: "I cut a tiny chunk out of my review for Gravity's Rainbow to offer as encouragement to all for whenever they get around to reading the book.

I started GR about 7 years ago for the first time and m..."


Thanks J.! I haven't given up yet, but the timing might just be off for GR and I at the moment.I just finished Ulysses and I don't think my mind has recovered. It wants ice cream and I'm feeding it another 3 course meal.


Mark Can do!

And this three course meal, the entree wouldn't be laced with cyanide, would it? Cause something's got me feelin awful woozy, wlkwelk, wldfkjlw, wlkjd, wlkdfjklw,d sflklkwe, hahahaha


message 8: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Oh crap, completely spaced on this and have been meaning to ask since you started reading GR: Which edition do you have? The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition with the Frank Miller cover art?


Jenn(ifer) I have that there edition up there. you know ^^ that one in the picture


message 10: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Ok. Go to page 139. Is the last line of that page "cross—under the trees, through the shadows—before something hap-"? Because there are some copies of that there edition up there in the picture there which contain lots of typos and omissions (that line being one of them).


Jenn(ifer) nope, that is not the last line of the page 139.


message 12: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Well unless that line is the first line on page 140 I would say you have one of the misprint copies.


Jenn(ifer) lame!


message 14: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Super lame. Sorry for not asking about this sooner, but all of my brain power has been taken up by the Wake.


Jenn(ifer) you know what else is lame? I'm only getting about half of the notifications that people have posted comments! *shakes angry fist at goodreads.

scott, i caught a glimpse of the awesomeness last night; then I fell asleep.


message 16: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Damn you, Goodreads! *shakes fists*


s.penkevich (Jenn)ifer wrote: "you know what else is lame? I'm only getting about half of the notifications that people have posted comments! *shakes angry fist at goodreads.

scott, i caught a glimpse of the awesomeness last ni..."


Yeah, screw these notifications!

I hear you though, I've been thinking 'damn, and I thought Ulysses took effort'. Hang in there!


message 18: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Found I've got a misprint copy, too! Joy! :D Thanks for that heads up, Nick. I was going along, looking forward to knowing what my task was. And then the "task" didn't make any sense as printed


Jenn(ifer) Scott wrote: "You're pretty much caught up to me. I'm glad I gave myself a head start or I'd be waaay behind. I will never be able to watch "Henry the Octopus" on The Wiggles without running from the room scre..."

That scene was CRAZY! I'm surprised I'm almost caught up to you, cos I have this weird Pavlovian relationship to this book. I pick it up and start to read, and 15 minutes later I'm falling asleep. That might lead one to believe that it's boring, but it's not. THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY WORDS!


message 20: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Mark wrote: "Found I've got a misprint copy, too! Joy! :D Thanks for that heads up, Nick. I was going along, looking forward to knowing what my task was. And then the "task" didn't make any sense as printed"

You're quite welcome. I had to pick up a new copy recently (strangely my copy isn't missing the line above but has several other typos and missing words/lines), and I was able to get the previous Penguin Classics printing with the blueprint cover. As far as I am aware there are no major typographical errors in that edition.


Jenn(ifer) Scott wrote: "It is fatiguing! But so good. I haven't had much time to read lately. Plus I "cheat" on Pynchon with other books."

I find that I don't have any desire to read other books behind Pynchon's back. It must be love!


message 22: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Scott wrote: "My edition was okay as far as the line you mentioned, Nick. I just read about the errors in the Penguin Deluxe edition somewhere else right before reading your comments. Are there any other gleam..."

I honestly could not tell you what those errors might be. I purchased my copy of the Deluxe Edition back in 2008, and as I said above my copy was okay as far as the line mentioned but there were other instances further into the book where there seemed to have been a line at the bottom of a page that had been cut-off during printing. I have never seen specifics mentioned (other than that one line) elsewhere, just that the book contained several major errors.


message 23: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Thanks for the further heads up, Nick! I saw a place selling the blueprint edition pretty cheap and was toying with getting it. Still three-quarters of the novel left, and this bastard Deluxe edition is deluxe in weight too. That, or I'm way too puny!


message 24: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Mark wrote: "Thanks for the further heads up, Nick! I saw a place selling the blueprint edition pretty cheap and was toying with getting it. Still three-quarters of the novel left, and this bastard Deluxe editi..."

The blueprint cover is pretty light in terms of weight. Certainly makes it easier for the puny among us. ;)


message 25: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Nick wrote: "Mark wrote: "Thanks for the further heads up, Nick! I saw a place selling the blueprint edition pretty cheap and was toying with getting it. Still three-quarters of the novel left, and this bastard..."

Two words: OR - DERED. :D I was kinda surprised how heavy this edition was. Most Penguin books I have, no matter how long/thick they are, the paper tends to be super lightweight, while still being sturdy. This one feels almost like a hardback!


message 26: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Mark wrote: "Nick wrote: "Mark wrote: "Thanks for the further heads up, Nick! I saw a place selling the blueprint edition pretty cheap and was toying with getting it. Still three-quarters of the novel left, and..."

It seems like most deckle-edged books are fairly heavy. The ones I have owned usually are, at least.


message 27: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Have you read Candide? Around the 400 page mark, I'm getting a really strong Voltaire vibe


message 28: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Hi, (Jenn). Review. Review. Review.


Jenn(ifer) Hold yer horses fella, I have to finish the book first!


message 30: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Well hurry up and finish the danged thing! We want a review!


s.penkevich You did it! Good work. Favorite ever? Nice!

Nasal Erections. That shit was amazing.


message 32: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick I love seeing all of those stars lit up in red.


Jenn(ifer) s.penkevich wrote: "You did it! Good work. Favorite ever? Nice!

Nasal Erections. That shit was amazing."


Pynchon's imagination astounds me.


Jenn(ifer) Ňīċĸ wrote: "I love seeing all of those stars lit up in red."

then you should "like" my review, eh? (nudge nudge)(wink wink)


message 35: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick (Jenn)ifer wrote: "Ňīċĸ wrote: "I love seeing all of those stars lit up in red."

then you should "like" my review, eh? (nudge nudge)(wink wink)"


No, I really really like your review (really). (Hey, stop nudging me.) (Is your eye twitching?)


Steve I don't know that I'll end up loving this as much as you did, Jenn, but I sure liked your review. Seeing what made you like it will help my own appreciation (modulo the penile preoccupation). I'll have to be mindful of what you said: "There’s no such thing as 'casually reading' this book. You have to pay attention, otherwise you’ll end up in another country with a whole new cast of characters in another time period and have NO IDEA how you ended up there."

Glad to see it was worth the effort!


Jenn(ifer) Steve wrote: "I don't know that I'll end up loving this as much as you did, Jenn, but I sure liked your review. Seeing what made you like it will help my own appreciation (modulo the penile preoccupation). I'l..."

Thanks Steve! The end of part 3 and all of part 4 are worth slogging through the tough parts. I giggled the whole way through.


Jenn(ifer) I forgot to put the pictures in!


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

You should go read some comics for a few months and then read Mason and Dixon. It is far less explicit, still very funny (albeit in a more mature way) and very, very beautiful.


message 40: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick I have to say that I am shocked that you did not use your new-found hyperlinking skills for that video.


Jenn(ifer) Sean wrote: "You should go read some comics for a few months and then read Mason and Dixon. It is far less explicit, still very funny (albeit in a more mature way) and very, very beautiful."

I was just saying that Mason & Dixon will be my next Pynchon! But considering that in the past twelve months I've read Infinite Jest, Ulysses, 2666 and This, I'd say I'm due for some good old fashioned mindless reading.


Jenn(ifer) Ňīċĸ wrote: "I have to say that I am shocked that you did not use your new-found hyperlinking skills for that video."

I'll have to fix that!


message 43: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Congrats! Imma be deferring to your review after I finish! Right now I'm sloggin through the incest and pedo scenes and ... it's a bit much ... but there are so many awesome scenes in this picaresque! You covered every single thing, from the good to the notsamuchbadasoverdone


Jenn(ifer) Mark wrote: "Congrats! Imma be deferring to your review after I finish! Right now I'm sloggin through the incest and pedo scenes and ... it's a bit much ... but there are so many awesome scenes in this picaresq..."

I really disliked that part. Once you get through it, he eases up on the sexy time dramatically.


message 45: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Hyperlinking! Wooo!


Jenn(ifer) wooo! you gonna "like" my review now?


message 47: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Well I was going to but now that you've asked I am going to drag the process out just to torture you.


Jenn(ifer) shaking fist in anger again!!!!!!!!


message 49: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick Evil laugh!!!


message 50: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I love your review, especially the casting and, my favourite, Jeff Bridges.

The prude abides.


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