so i started gravity's rainbow the other day

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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

I read the first ten pages the other day! If I could only quit it with the Internet for a week or two I'd be able to get through the rest. Already I can sense it's gonna be pretty sick.

Just got offed, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 20:28 (fifteen years ago) link

if you read gravity's rainbow in two weeks i doubt you are really reading it

cutty, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 14:22 (fifteen years ago) link

i like the coen brothers doing this, but, dumb question, wouldn't it have to be a miniseries, not a movie?

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 15:13 (fifteen years ago) link

if you think about the timeline and actual narrative in gravity's rainbow, i think it would fit into a 2 hour (or maybe a little more) film

cutty, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Have you heard Saunders' Issac Babel reading on the New Yorker podcast?

C0L1N B..., Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:54 (fifteen years ago) link

no wai cutty -- slothrup would barely be parachuting within the first two hours, and that's omitting the musical numbers.

i do not think coens are a great match, because of their tendency to flatten the whole range of humor into one dry sadistically funny band, and i would submit alex cox as a better director.

remy bean, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:54 (fifteen years ago) link

i don't think you could do it justice in 2 hours! you'd have to leave too much out and all of the plot digressions are what make the book what it is.

also i think the coen brothers would make it too hokey. i don't really think gr could be made into a worthwhile film, actually.

bell_labs, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:55 (fifteen years ago) link

i would say maybe terry gilliam over the coen bros tho

bell_labs, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:56 (fifteen years ago) link

howz about coens for the dance numbers, someone else for the rest.

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Have you heard Saunders' Issac Babel reading on the New Yorker podcast?

wrong thread?

cutty, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:59 (fifteen years ago) link

Ha, yes. That was for "Book Remakes".

C0L1N B..., Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:02 (fifteen years ago) link

just found a link to it, i will check it out!

cutty, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:03 (fifteen years ago) link

and that's omitting the musical numbers.

the musical number in the white visitation room with all the lab workers in a maze, damn that would be so awesome.

cutty, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:04 (fifteen years ago) link

I think this would have to be an animated film to work properly.

Also Louis, I would recommend reading it as quickly as possible and not trying to follow it too closely, just enjoy the language and humour, and then re-reading it extensively at your leisure.

I am using your worlds, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:11 (fifteen years 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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