Victoria's Reviews > Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
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's review
Jan 20, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: classics, fiction, historical, science-fiction
Recommended to Victoria by: Mischa Li
Read from January 21 to April 14, 2011 — I own a copy

Some books have great word of mouth. This is not one of them. Among my book-nerd friends, Gravity's Rainbow was described with words such as "difficult" and "dense," or met with scrunched up noses of disdain. One friend saw me carrying the book and threw her hands up with a cry of "Oh god, Pynchon !?!?!"

After 3 months, I can understand why Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow can elicit such a reaction from even die-hard book lovers. It's by no means an easy read; it is dense, jam-packed and at 776 pages, a bit of a mental marathon. If you're not familiar with World War II's general timeline of events, the setting and the plot can seem like a giant maze filled with twists and turns of unrelated references, digressions and pages upon pages of pointless distractions. It is definitely hard to keep up with the astronomical number of characters--some who only appear for one "chapter"--who appear and reappear seemingly at random.

However, I can recognize that there is indeed a spark of genius within the madness. Whether or not that genius is something that speaks to you, however, very much depends on your personal preferences for literature. If you want a fast page-turner, this will not be your cup of tea. Pynchon is certainly skilled with his wordplay and there's quite a bit to chew on intellectually--but the information deluge can be understandably overwhelming.

Perhaps foolishly, I tackled Gravity's Rainbow without reading Crying Lot of 49 or V. Some say that reading either before Gravity's Rainbow makes it easier to read and appreciate. In my personal opinion, I don't know how much merit that holds and depends on the individual. I think even the most seasoned reader will have to double back over certain passages. This is definitely a book that's meant to be read multiple times to get the full force of what Pynchon is trying to say.

Was the possibility of understanding that meaning worth the monumental effort? I'm not sure I got the "message" and most certainly didn't understand everything that was going on. I enjoyed a lot of passages, but powered through a lot of them as well. Will I pick up this book for a re-read? Maybe, but not anytime soon. But I'm not about to run away and cry in despair should I see another Pynchon book in the future.


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Reading Progress

01/21/2011 page 6
01/24/2011 page 75
10.0% ""At the defeat of Poland...""
01/25/2011 page 94
12.0% ""She's alone in the house, except for the secret cameraman...""
03/09/2011 page 378
49.0% ""He's already on his way back to Cuxhaven..."
04/05/2011 page 696
90.0% "On the Phrase "Ass Backwards""
04/06/2011 page 708
91.0% "Listening To the Toilet"
04/11/2011 page 733
94.0% ""The Hexes-Stadt, with its holy mountains...""
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