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Gravity's Rainbow

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  29,591 Ratings  ·  2,603 Reviews
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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin ha
Paperback, 760 pages
Published 1995 by Penguin Classics (first published February 28th 1973)
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TimB I have read and re-read Gravitys Rainbow every few years for 2 decades. What I love about it is that i read it cover to cover and never get to the end…moreI have read and re-read Gravitys Rainbow every few years for 2 decades. What I love about it is that i read it cover to cover and never get to the end of it. There is more every time. Its a novel i will continue to live with and always find more; beautiful, funny, mysterious.(less)
Zoeb Matin It is difficult but not quite as difficult as it has been made out to be. One of the things to realize is that once you get the basic gist of the…moreIt is difficult but not quite as difficult as it has been made out to be. One of the things to realize is that once you get the basic gist of the story in your head (the adventures of Tyrone Slothrop in England and Europe at the end of World War 2 and his mysterious connection with the new V-2 rocket being fired time and again by the Germans who are now losing the war), you will find it a lot easier to navigate at least his arc and how he is going from place to place and what eventually happens to him.

Of course, Slothrop's story is just the tip of a big, big iceberg. A lot of stuff is submerged in the depths of mystery but still there is an awful lot that you can make out from the plot. It is said that there are about hundreds of characters in the book. Well, as of now, I am finishing Part 2 and while many names have already popped up already, it should be noted to a first-time reader that most of them serve only a single purpose or role in the book. Many of them even disappear and the supporting cast includes only a handful of these hundreds, whose lives and struggles are explored in greater depth. I am sure you must have found about those, for instance people like Roger Mexico, Jessica Swanlake, Katje, Pointsman, Blicero, Gottfried, Leni Pokler and so on.

The book has some absolutely befuddling parts of prose that need to be read again and again to get their full gist. This can be explained by the fact that drugs and hallucinations play a lot of important role in the novel. So, they can be those vivid dreams or nightmares which can be thus rather puzzling and baffling. At the same time, a lot of stuff is easy to understand and the mechanical information and details are also explained very concisely. The sex and hilarity are also very explicit and outrageous and even those deliciously nonsensical songs are fun to read. Part 1 can be tough to stomach at times but it is worth it for the buildup to the action in the latter parts. Get through that and you will succeed.(less)
Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceGravity's Rainbow by Thomas PynchonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiCatch-22 by Joseph Heller
Postmodern Novels
78 books — 74 voters
1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerAnimal Farm by George OrwellTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cult Classics
833 books — 1,300 voters

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Community Reviews

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May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: novels
Advice for a first time reader of Gravity's Rainbow:

Gravity's Rainbow is a book you either love or hate, and if you hate it it's probably because you couldn't finish the damn thing. Though by no means impenetrable, the novel is daunting enough to merit a list of tips for those wishing to tackle it for the first time. Below is my advice on how new readers can get over the hump. Trust me, it's a small hump, and the masterpiece that lies on the other side is worth the effort.

1. Read V first ... Pyn
Mar 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites

Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Paranoids, Preterits and Pornographers
What is the real nature of control?

From the first sentence of Pynchon’s National Book Award winning novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, the Reader is transplanted into a threatening world where death strikes first, the cause second. It is a world of frightening realism and comic absurdity, all fueled through drug induced hallucinations, paranoid ramblings, and psychological investigations that is not all that unlike our own reality once you remove yourself to view it from afar as if it were some painti
Paquita Maria Sanchez
It took three months, but I finally pinned this sucker down to the count of ten. Three months is kinda perfect if you think about it, though. That's my typical honeymoon period in most relationships, the enthusiastic "I can still more than tolerate you" part, so great timing, yeah? Sure, I cheated on him on about 15 separate occasions in that time-frame, but hell, nobody's perfect. The library card in my wallet is like a condom just begging to be used.

So yeah, I can now say I've "read" this book
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I don’t know why exactly you folks out there read, or why you feel compelled to then seek out a community in which you might share your thoughts, impressions, reactions etc. about the books you’ve read… But me myself, I read for many reasons - among them the opportunity to transcend the narrow window of my own point of view; the chance to learn by a leap, however minimally, over the subjective walls of my own stupid existence; also and especially to inhabit for a few moments the warm pulse of
Michael Finocchiaro
This is of course the Pynchon pinnacle, the summit of his fame, the cornerstone of his work. So much so that he fell silent for about 14 years after writing it (leading me to wonder if DeLillo was spoofing him in Mao II). It is an amazing book and the first Pynchon I ever read. It is a rude introduction to his style though as it is thoroughly post modern in narration, manipulation of time and reality, and proliferation of characters. There are moments of pure genius but also of repulsion (leadin ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye

"A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now."


In the beginning was the earth, and above the earth was the sky.

The earth consisted of land and water. The sky consisted of air, the moon, the sun and the stars in the heavens.

The land consisted of rock. Water was everywhere, but still precious.

The sky was light by day and dark by night. By day, the light came from the sun and sometimes the moon. At night, a lesser light came fro
Feb 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
I know history is rarely kind to harsh criticisms about super nebulous or "difficult" authors , but dig this --

This book is horrible. After reading The Crying of Lot 49, Slow Learner and now this, I'm convinced that Thomas Pynchon is a hack, and the reason we don't hear from him is because he has nothing to say and knows that if we gave him a microphone and fifteen minutes he'd be found out.

90% of the people who pick up this novel won't finish it, and 90% of those who do won't like it. But 100%
Gather ‘round, everyone, and hear the tale of why the reasoning (not the rejection itself, mind you) behind the rejection of this novel for the Pulitzer Prize of ’74 fucking pisses me off.

Their reason? Obscenity. I would hope that they at least wrote an essay justifying their decision that went beyond an insipid mix of morally outraged blatherings and oblique mentions of coprophilia (he ate what? Poop? Oh, we cannot stand for this we simply must not accept this and god forbid we even think for a
Barry Pierce
You know that very brief moment after you wake up in the morning? That moment when you're not sleeping but you're not yet awake. You kind of know what's going but you're not fully aware. You're in conciousness limbo. When you read Gravity's Rainbow you fall into this conciousness limbo. You read the words on the page but they don't all make sense. You're confused, you don't know what's going on but... you love it. You're floating through this syntactical Pandora's Box fully unaware of your surro ...more
I dallied with the idea of writing a very short review, saying pithy things like:

"I'm glad that's over."



OR should I go more eloquent: "I'm going to set this day as an anniversary to commemorate why I'll never read this book again."

But I think I'll just state that I think I just got post-moderned in the ass.

Or I could say some wonderful things about the novel, too, of which there are many, many wonderful things, such a great and funny commentary on WAR, Operant Conditioning, Drug Fiends
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: A brainy but sadistic Goodreads group
An Approach for Simulating Text Consistent With Gravity’s Rainbow

Technical Report issued 6 July 2012 by the Simulation Lab Originating Text-based Handiwork (SLOTH)

While the exact algorithm used by Pynchon (1973) to produce Gravity’s Rainbow (henceforth GR) was never documented, we contend that the method proposed in this paper is, on average, in a repeated sampling context, observationally equivalent. As is true of any simulation, there is a deterministic component and a random component. Sim
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: degenerates
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the literati

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 at
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite novel. I read it over the course of around three months, on my fourth attempt, when I was living in Tallinn, Estonia. Something about residence in a very small European country heightens one's sense of the absurd. I would bring it to lunch at the bars where I dined and start crying into my club sandwich when the book was sad and laughing into my kebabs when it was funny (which is nearly always) and there are a lot of bartenders who probably thought I was crazy.

The first
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I think reading and reviewing this book requires taking on some extra baggage because it...well, I don't actually need to explain why or else Gravity’s Rainbow wouldn't have this baggage in the first place. It's Gravity's Rainbow, and that makes me feel like I need to read it, preferably without thinking too much about why exactly I feel this way. But at the same time I feel like I should avoid it so I don't look like a damn hairdo, which I'm told is British slang for someone who “tries too hard ...more
Franco  Santos
El arco iris de gravedad es de esa clase de obras que son capaces de llegar a lugares que la ficción convencional no puede ni imaginar. No esperen una relación fría, vaga y simple que solo nos exija un mínimo de concentración y una dosis mísera de participación. Con la ficción pynchoniana, se conforma una especie de reciprocidad entre el lector y el escritor que tiende a agarrarnos por la fuerza y empujarnos hacia un viaje que se puede tornar demasiado intenso. En un libro de Pynchon, no cabe la ...more
There is no doubt that Pynchon is a brilliant writer. His ability to expound in detail on diverse and difficult topics is incredible (especially for the pre-Internet era), as is the intricacy of the plot: full of interconnecting references, allusions, metaphors on top of metaphors - Gravity’s Rainbow is truly a virtuoso performance. To read it is to be swept away on a wild ride through Pynchon’s imagination, unbridled by form or convention. The entire enterprise seems to defy the rational laws o ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of Gravity's Rainbow

Brilliant, Frustrating, Falls Short of Greatness, and not for the Faint of Heart

Really Frustrated Man Screaming and Pulling his Hair

I don't usually use images in my reviews. But this review screamed for one.

Several caveats for anyone attempting to read this.

1. You most likely won't get through it on your first attempt. I didn't.

2. Reading this is a project! The book is nearly 800 pages, and pretty convoluted. It's like reading Joyce's "Ulysses" (although I think "Ulysses" is the better book). You need to allocate more
MJ Nicholls
May 28, 2012 marked it as dropped  ·  review of another edition
I tried sixty-nine pages for the purposes of the Group Read (a Group Read of Gravity’s Rainbow on Goodreads—a GR of GR on GR, or GR3) but tentatively closed the novel thenceforth. My first thought (I am an intellectual) was WTF?! This has over twenty five-star ratings on the first page?! Then I had to concede I simply don’t like Pynchon’s writing style, period. William raised this point in his review of The Tunnel—you’re helpless against an author’s crystalline prose if you simply can’t stomach ...more
I am considering giving myself five stars for finishing it. It has taken me forever, and I dropped it for other, less infuriating books over and over again. At some point, when I was over 500 pages into the story (if you can call it a story), I decided that I had to finish it, simply to have it off my to-read-shelf. I have struggled with books before: Ulysses is not easy, neither is Marcel Proust or Dante's Commedia. But this was different. I could not find enough valuable stuff in it to justify ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
GR is a cult rite of passage. You have literary aspirations? Want a literary badge of honour? Voila. Expire Perspire aspire on this. So the bon ton do. And having circumnavigated this literary Everest, victorious, but a little delirious and oxygen deprived, the finish liners now take positions for a whole new battle. The Battle of the Bulge, PoMo style. The trenches are drawn, and to the left of the house we have the Disbelievers, the Lost, the ones who just ‘don’t get it’. To the right: the rig ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recipient of my 2017 "Rod of Priapus"
For Artsy Outside (Book Jacket Design) covering Multiple Scenes of an Overly Gratuitous Quantity of Vile, Lascivious and Highly Perverted Sex Within

Fine Art Painting of Priapus, Minor Greek god of fertility and male genitalia

Fine Art Sculpture of Priapus, currently on view at Boston Museum of Fine Art

I Am Obviously a Simple Man, Surely I'm Sickened
*More PSA/Editorial than Review: Should You Read this Without Nauseation, You May Disregard It
Warning: I've sanit
Disclaimer 1) I am skeptical of disclaimers because I am a painfully aware of self-as-persona, authorial presence.
Disclaimer 2) I willingly admit that I have no idea what the hell I just read.
Disclaimer 3) I did not read this with a companion text, [if that's totally prerequisite for enjoyment then, really?] though I did find myself occasionally using the Pynchon Wiki, and googTranslate.
Disclaimer 4) This was my first read and a re-read has already been scheduled. Will probably Vineland and lo
Arthur Graham
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

1 star for readers who require things like "plot" and "accessibility" in their books — silly readers!

2 stars for readers who just don't "get it".

3 stars for readers who probably also don't get it, but would rather not infuriate 1-star and 5-star readers by rating too low or too high.

4 stars for readers who value writing over narrative, plus more erections (both literal and figurative) than you can shake a stick at.

5 stars for TRUE masochists and/or readers who may just wish to appear hipper/smar
Violet wells
Thomas Pynchon is like someone who talks to himself far too much and always in blustering major chords. As such he is rather exhausting. On the other hand about half of what he says is enthralling so at the end of the day he is worth the effort. There are dozens of radiant and exhilarating vignettes in Gravity’s Rainbow. I’ve just done the English sweets scene which was splendid though there’s the obligatory slipshod lack of editing: “his tongue a hopeless holocaust” – is that “hopeless” funny o ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickficionados
Shelves: smut, 2014, rth-lifetime
"Be sick," is the advice I got on reading Gravity's Rainbow. "Be sick and bedridden and read the whole thing through with no interruptions, and when you're done, flip back to page one and do the whole thing again."

And I get it: that would indeed be a good way to understand this drunken maelstrom of a book. But I don't care enough about it to do that, and also I don't get sick very often, so I was forced to just muddle through. Have I unlocked its many secrets? I have not. I can't tell you what G
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gravity's Rainbow is a rocket launched into the zenith of the literary sky…
Gravity's Rainbow is picaresque, enigmatic, obscene and labyrinthine. It is all things postmodern tumbled in the huge motley heap.
They say that amongst the more than four hundred of characters in the novel there is no protagonist. Well, there is a protagonist: it is the ominous SG-00000 rocket – an epicenter of evil, a mysterious artifact Tyrone Slothrop is looking for, but it hides from us until the end of the book.
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a couple of tries to make it through Pynchon's Great Thing; the first time I began it eagerly enough, only to smash headfirst into an impenetrable wall of thick, viscous prose that so entangled and bewildered me that—after some seventy-odd pages—I said Enough! and moved on. However, the book nibbled away at my mind, and about three weeks later I gave it another try. Determined this time to see it through, I hit the ground running to match pace with A screaming comes across the sky...; ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Reading Gravity’s Rainbow is like being dragged through a wide array of emotions, forcefully. One page you could almost be puking in disgust, the next page you might be marveling at the beautiful writing, and the next page after that you might have an aha moment, revealing a layer of humanity that you were never able to express yourself. And sometimes you just laugh uncontrollably, because Pynchon is hilarious.

Pynchon takes us through a world in which everything and nothing is connected. Force a
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The point? 6 42 Jan 10, 2018 03:05PM  
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Mic Breaks Only: Gravity's Rainbow: Page 0: Links & Notions 3 18 Jan 03, 2015 07:10PM  
  • A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel
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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American writer based in New York City, noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known today: V. (1963 ...more
More about Thomas Pynchon...

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” 1487 likes
“They're in love. Fuck the war.” 846 likes
More quotes…