jacqs's Reviews > Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
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U 50x66
's review
May 24, 2008

did not like it
Read in November, 2009

Occasionally I enjoy this book, with its own bizarre rhythm that takes some getting used to. It helps not to absorb the digressions. I have been able to let the overworked, irrelevant descriptions flow through me without comprehension, and when an essential plot point appears briefly in the mess, somehow I catch it. I flag those points with a stickie. Those moments are the gratifying ones, when out of the mess appears some sense and cohesion. It's like being whipped repeatedly and then being overjoyed when you get some gauze pads and lotion. It also reminds me of Magic Eye drawings, where mostly it's chaotic nonsense but if you take a long view, you can see a pattern. The only point in doing so is for the practice of it, or the novel experience of it. Like a sport, just for the challenge and the rhythm. It also makes me think of wrapping yourself in a wool blanket that is Thomas Pynchon's mind and personality. If you don't like his personality, if the blanket is scratchy and ugly, then the book is just irritating.

Overall I'd describe the energy of the book as 20th century "male," being about war-time and erections and industrial noise. Most people who like it seem to be male. If there is any femininity in the book, I have not found it yet. The female characters tend to be sex objects, or some object from the perspective of a male character. In fact, considering how one man wonders if his daughter is the same person year to year, a daughter who is sent to him by the military, it seems like the whole book fragments woman-energy. "Are women even real?" they seem to wonder. When will my girlfriend leave me? wonders Roger Mexico constantly. In war time, is there any family or community cohesion or any real partnership? (No.) I'd say Pynchon feels profoundly alienated from his female side, and probably from love. In that context, the book is an interesting description of male alienation from the female, and the ways that society can so completely objectify humans into being experimental subjects.

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