so i started gravity's rainbow the other day

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Reminds me of Catch-22. We'll see though.

ugh. i hated catch 22. i think i have a problem with the late-modernist masculine canon.

lauren (laurenp), Monday, 24 January 2005 11:11 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't really agree with O. Nate, but his prose in that post momentarily reminds me of Dylan's in Chronicles.

the bellefox, Tuesday, 25 January 2005 19:29 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, tell me what you disagree about then, and we can argue. :-) (But I'll take the Dylan thing as a compliment.)

o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 26 January 2005 03:28 (eighteen years ago) link

I've read GR twice, and both times it took about six weeks - which seems like a long time, but isn't compared to Infinite Jest which took several months.

Got much less bogged down the second time around - the first time there was definitely too much to take in all at once.

I've read Vineland twice too, and considering rereading M&D pretty soon - again, the sheer density means I probably missed a lot of the nuances first time around.

Mog, Wednesday, 26 January 2005 10:38 (eighteen years ago) link

read it over the summer and now everything else feels kind of lightweight i didn't really try and make sense of it just munched on the imagery and ideas

elwisty (elwisty), Wednesday, 26 January 2005 11:32 (eighteen years ago) link

O. Nate: yes, Dylan was a compliment - I love his book.

When I said 'I don't really agree', that meant, largely: 'you like the book and I don't'. I don't think I had very specific points in mind. But I will look and think, about that.

the bluefox, Thursday, 27 January 2005 14:11 (eighteen years ago) link

four months pass...
An appreciation of Gravity's Rainbow from Bookforum:

The long Gerald Howard piece is pretty interesting.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 20 June 2005 17:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Ugh that long article is lousy. "Life is a haunting thing." Too true, Gerald. I enjoyed Lorrie's sidebar, though.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Tuesday, 21 June 2005 09:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Didn't like it? I thought it was an interesting personal narrative, I didn't give as much thought to his critique of the book itself, but it was a readable account with some interesting tidbits I didn't know about Pynchon & his publisher.

o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 21 June 2005 12:43 (eighteen years ago) link

alhtough i know some people on here might not agree, i thought that the reader's companion helped a lot (although i just kind of discounted the more interpretive addendums). it's nice to have something providing at least some clues of the source texts referenced (starting w/ the opening quote)

Suzy Creemcheese (SuzyCreemcheese), Tuesday, 21 June 2005 23:42 (eighteen years ago) link

It is nice of Lorrie Moore to be so generous about Pynchon - and in her brief piece she reminds us how neat a writer she herself is - but she neglects to mention his woeful flaws and the great many appalling wasted pages he has typed.

the pinefox, Thursday, 23 June 2005 09:29 (eighteen years ago) link

No writer is perfect, Pinefox. Pynchon's one of the best we have, though. Why would Lorrie Moore contravene an appreciation with adverse criticism that would sort of amount to what your post does, ie, just bitching about nothing?

tippecanoe, Thursday, 23 June 2005 20:09 (eighteen years ago) link

I think serious professional fiction writers find something to admire about him, if only his far-reaching ambition in creating great complex systems of information and recreating entire eras in his great big books- his cojones if you will, but as a lay reader I tend to discount this as a deformation professionelle.

k/l (Ken L), Thursday, 23 June 2005 20:25 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Just finished this last night; took the better part of 5 weeks to do it. I'm sure all of the comparisons to Joyce/Ulysses are pretty old by now, but I don't think I could have enjoyed GR as much as I did if I hadn't already read Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. (Could be that I'm just used to plowing through the sections where I have absolutely no idea what's going on).

I loved all of the little anecdotes sprinkled throughout, like the alliterative restaurant dishes (pubic parfait and whatnot), Benny the Bulb, the boat that magically missed the torpedos, Roger Mexico pissing all over the boardroom and then crawling out under the table, etc. I like how Pynchon maintains a jovial/fantastical feel through most of the book, I don't think it'd be near as great if he was writing a realistic narrative. And has there ever been a more musical book? There was a song every ten pages it seemed

I have to say though that the pedophilia, poop-eating, toilet-diving, etc. made me squirm while I read it and grew somewhat tiresome by the end. I'll probably pick up the commentary book at some point and re-read GR with it, but before I read any more Pynchon, I need a few years off. Phew!

jedidiah (jedidiah), Friday, 8 July 2005 17:04 (eighteen years ago) link

i've read about 50 pages of this book and haven't been able to get much further. i guess i'll probably try again soon, since i liked crying of lot 49 a lot (tho i read about a third of v and hated it), but my problem with pynchon is that i just don't find him all that funny. maybe that's not the point, but it seems like it's a big part of his surface appeal - silly names, wacky hi-jinx, super-advanced math/science jokes, back cover blurb comparing GR to duck soup as well as ulysses - and i think you have to enjoy that stuff to have the patience to get into the 'rewarding' aspects of GR - its vast awesome complexity, blah blah blah - and i don't! it just seems so lame and forced to me, like a nerdy science major cracking up at his own jokes.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 8 July 2005 22:45 (eighteen years ago) link

Yup. To me, Pynchon's humor is embarrassing, at the level of the minstrel show on the last episode of The Prisoner. And just look at this thread- the guy who started it lived in his parents' basement, took lots of drugs, freaked out, started spamming the board like crazy, all the while talking about how he was living in his parents' basement, taking lots of drugs, and freaking out, and was banned. I realize that is circumstantial evidence, but still.

k/l (Ken L), Friday, 8 July 2005 23:47 (eighteen years ago) link

C/D: People who read Finnegans Wake and yet don't notice the lack of apostrophe in the title?

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 9 July 2005 03:44 (eighteen years ago) link

well if they read the whole thing the title is a relatively minor fraction of all the words!

j., though there are places that made me laugh i think of it as closer to, i dunno, reading comic books; most of the gags aim for amusement or wonder, instead of laffs.

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 9 July 2005 05:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, but it something that's pointed out on in the first page of every commentary, and much as we don't like to rely too heavily on such things, surely it's nice to crack one open now and then, especially for such notoriously difficult books as U and FW.

k/l (Ken L), Saturday, 9 July 2005 10:50 (eighteen years ago) link

"Out on in" on, till the break of dawn.

k/l (Ken L), Saturday, 9 July 2005 10:51 (eighteen years ago) link

i would recommend giving up for good on Gravity's Rainbow if you don't find it funny, since Pynchon's carnival humor is what in large part fuels the narrative.

a respectable citizen, Saturday, 9 July 2005 17:24 (eighteen years ago) link

well, there's also the deal where Part 1 is the hardest part.

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 9 July 2005 18:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Carnival? Maybe if he worked in a Bossa Nova theme I would be more interested. No, probably not.

k/l (Ken L), Saturday, 9 July 2005 18:51 (eighteen years ago) link

uh, more a Rabelaisian thing than bossa nova is what I meant

a respectable citizen, Saturday, 9 July 2005 20:27 (eighteen years ago) link

also it takes a knack to get the humor like in the opening sequence. i totally love it now, but it took me some time to understand how to approach. i generally don't do a whole lot of visualization when i read -- if authors leave something to the imagination, i just let it sit there. but there's actual LOCATIONS and PHYSICS involved in pynchon's descriptions -- i have to imagine lots of how he writes as it would play on a movie screen or in a tv show or stage, and translate what he's describing into that sort of slapstick. (i imagine, btw, that nabokov's lectures at cornell probably influenced the physicality of pynchon's prose quite a bit -- what with the maps and all)

the chase scene in the mountain, btw, is where pynchon totally excels at this in GR. by Vineland, it's increasingly how he's doing EVERYTHING.

i like it that pynchon sort of forces me into a sense-driven reading mode precisely b/c it cuts across how i (& probably lots of foax) learned to "appreciate" literature in school.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Sunday, 10 July 2005 00:31 (eighteen years ago) link

"C/D: People who read Finnegans Wake and yet don't notice the lack of apostrophe in the title?"

Wow that's embarassing. I think I've always spelled it like that too. *hangs head in shame*

jedidiah (jedidiah), Monday, 11 July 2005 15:37 (eighteen years ago) link

Now you have to read it again!

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 11 July 2005 16:05 (eighteen years ago) link

and think the whole time one the things he's doing is narrating the muddled dreams of "finnegans" as they wake up from their sloughs of inertia

a respectable citizen, Monday, 11 July 2005 16:09 (eighteen years ago) link

I actually started to re-read it about a year and a half ago, and didn't make it past page 120 or so. How's that for doing things backwards?

jedidiah (jedidiah), Monday, 11 July 2005 16:14 (eighteen years ago) link

I can't do much concerted reading of it these days. It's best as a sort of bathroom book, to flip through idly and enjoy what pours off the page in the brief moment you spend with it.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 11 July 2005 16:20 (eighteen years ago) link

The guy who started this thread wasn't banned - in any case, he still posts to ILBaseball.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 11 July 2005 16:48 (eighteen years ago) link

He was banned from ILE.

Rock Hardy (Rock Hardy), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 02:31 (eighteen years ago) link

three months pass...
many, i think, have been underplaying, by omission as it were, the importance of pornography and horror for pynchon.

(compare the moments of terror, fear, etc., in gr to just the set-pieces in v - which leads me to wonder what a comparable list of them might be for gr.)

Josh (Josh), Sunday, 30 October 2005 16:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I haven't underplayed the importance of pornography, at least in the sense that I have often said that he writes like a dirty old man.

the pinefox, Monday, 31 October 2005 14:14 (seventeen years ago) link

you're halfway there, the pinefox! but one of the few.

as per leslie fiedler there is little difference, generically, between sex porn and horror-porn, which is why in particular i was moved to wonder where the horror-porn is in gr (it is clearly locatable in v).

Josh (Josh), Monday, 31 October 2005 15:50 (seventeen years ago) link

six months pass...
So I'm about to finish Book I of this and so far I don't really like it. Parts are enjoyable but parts are hell to sift through. Should I stick with it (does it pick up), or should I move on?

bob george (Lee is Free), Saturday, 6 May 2006 13:59 (seventeen years ago) link

part ii is where it gets easy and breezy

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 6 May 2006 20:19 (seventeen years ago) link

three months pass...
one theory that i haven't at all checked against the book yet is that maybe instead of so much horrific -episodes- a la 'v' (though there are maybe some, like the pointsman-shadow section??), in 'gr' the horror has been completely integrated into the style, sort of a la rilke in 'the notebooks of malte laurids brigge' or the poetry, in the sense of by its very wording and syntax conveying (whenver pynchon chooses) this spiralling anxiety at whatever old thing happens to be the theme of the moment; probably hooking up there with the nothing-is-connected-everything-is-connected poles of paranoia.

i don't know if that would even satisfy me, though, as far as my question above goes, since that would make for an asymmetry between the horrific and the sex-porn in 'gr', given that the latter is easily localizable to particular encounters, some fantasies.

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 24 August 2006 02:28 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...


strgn, Wednesday, 29 August 2007 08:10 (sixteen years ago) link

i'm halfway through and i'm pretty sure > halfway out of my depth. but it's doing a good job of expanding my imagination, empathy, understanding of how life exists on earth, etc. flattening of time and space, the quintuple zero, mapping of coordinates (in the context of categorized and apposite human destruction) are all combined like a very elaborate and troubled essay of what's going on at the center of human evolution since like the discovery of the printing press. and all those s/m scenes! i really have to ask -- do you people think it's an accurate rep. of berlin sex life? hottt and weirdddddddd. i think he's getting at something else under the surface of that, you know? beyond decadence...

strgn, Wednesday, 29 August 2007 08:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Writing about Oakley Hall the band, I came across Pynchon's original review of the novelist Oakley Hall's Warlock (think he wrote more later), on this good Pynchon archive (which has lots more besides his essays, that's just where I came in)

dow, Friday, 31 August 2007 00:39 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...

okay, I just finished took me a solid year. I kept having to stop and take breathers, but it was mind-blowing. I feel I must read it again, as I'm sure I've missed a ton of subtext

Morley Timmons, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 05:14 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm exactly at that point, too, Morley.

Lostandfound, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 08:22 (fifteen years ago) link

"the smoke of certain afternoons" is such an odd thing to find qualms with.

thomp, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 23:48 (fifteen years ago) link

can one find qualms or just have them?

thomp, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 23:48 (fifteen years ago) link

"October 25: Rocketmen and Wastelands, an essay by Marshall Shord - Shord is a recent graduate of Washington College, Maryland, who won the nation’s largest undergraduate literary prize, the Sophie Kerr Prize, in large part thanks to his 100-page critical thesis on the first three novels of Thomas Pynchon. Shord was awarded a check for almost $56,000 for his scholarly excellence and last we heard he’s been traveling the world. The Modern Word is proud to share the Pynchon paper worth a BMW, which could be characterized as one reader’s personal dialogue with Pynchon’s first three novels."

thomp, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 23:49 (fifteen years ago) link

^thanks for this...v. good reading on a slow day at work.

johnny crunch, Friday, 5 October 2007 23:22 (fifteen years ago) link

pers'n'ly i am for thinking it is awful

thomp, Sunday, 7 October 2007 10:44 (fifteen years ago) link

ten months pass...

who would make the best film adaptation of gravity's rainbow? i think the coen bros would do the best at casting the array of characters.

cutty, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 18:37 (fifteen years ago) link

i read this book 15 yrs ago in fits & starts over six months mostly "under the influence" so it passed by in a semi-comprehensible haze. what stuck was the names, i almost made "geli tripping" my first ILM tag.

ken's takes on the science/literary split feel absolutely OTM to me.

m coleman, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 19:04 (fifteen years ago) link

miseducated prolly

j., Wednesday, 9 May 2018 04:50 (five years ago) link

I'm jumping into this, but we'll see how far I get. I read V. a few years ago, it had its moments, but didn't make tons of sense to me. So far this is more comprehensible, but I'm sure it won't last.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Thursday, 10 May 2018 03:01 (five years ago) link

There are some great, heavily researched guides and supplements online for GR that follow basically page by page. Totally worth it. Really illuminated my reading experience.

One thing I have to say is, at least in my experience, you might be picking up more than you realize. Take those hallucinogenic detours for what they are. Pynchon shoots into space sometimes and you just have to ride it but it always comes back to the ground. Mostly.

two cool rock chicks pounding la croix (circa1916), Thursday, 10 May 2018 03:45 (five years ago) link

Trickiest part for me was remembering the 2,000 or whatever characters. That’s where the guides come in handy.

two cool rock chicks pounding la croix (circa1916), Thursday, 10 May 2018 03:47 (five years ago) link

four years pass...

The first appreciation I've read for Gravity's Rainbow in its 50th anniversary year – many more to come I'm sure. Arguing for Pynchon's relevance but asking – if reality has become as absurd as Pynchon, does that constitute an obstacle to reading him?

— James B (@piercepenniless) February 17, 2023

xyzzzz__, Friday, 17 February 2023 12:35 (seven months ago) link

There are some great, heavily researched guides and supplements online for GR that follow basically page by page. Totally worth it. Really illuminated my reading experience.

I should try that. I've read the book twice, have been contemplating a third read. I think a guide might add something. It did with Ulysses.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 17 February 2023 19:12 (seven months ago) link

Happy 50th birthday!

Piedie Gimbel, Tuesday, 28 February 2023 10:48 (six months ago) link

hb you amazing fucked-up freak :)

imago, Tuesday, 28 February 2023 10:49 (six months ago) link

"tussodyne" is a 2023 meme just waiting to unfurl

mark s, Tuesday, 28 February 2023 10:57 (six months ago) link

nice to see Nestlé's original brand name before they went woke

satori enabler (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 28 February 2023 11:17 (six months ago) link


having read three copies of this to pieces (original trade paperback w swollen red sun, frank miller penguin classic ew, 70s mass market paperback w rainbow contrails-- this one in many pieces) maybe today is the day to find a copy of that nice earlier penguin w the rocket blueprints on it

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 28 February 2023 17:06 (six months ago) link

...keep hearing thread title in Letterkenny voice...

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Tuesday, 28 February 2023 20:35 (six months ago) link

FIrst read that as "in Lemmy's voice"

Wile E. Galore (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 28 February 2023 21:12 (six months ago) link

Maggot Bairn (Tom D.), Tuesday, 28 February 2023 22:17 (six months ago) link

(6'53" if you don't want to sit through the whole thing)

Maggot Bairn (Tom D.), Tuesday, 28 February 2023 22:19 (six months ago) link

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