Or, why you should read "Gravity’s Rainbow" fifty years later.
Great stuff, except for your dismissal of Black Sabbath, hippie.
I never heard about this book.
But I will definitely give a try as soon as possible
Best book review I have ever read. Thankyou. I don't think I will read the book.
Yes. John Barth... A favourite of mine is the Sot- weed Factor. -The land of opportunity indeed.
I have often thought about reading Gravity's Rainbow, in the same way that, for many years, I thought about reading Ulysses. I have now read Ulysses and am currently reading it again out loud, a few pages at a time, in front of a puzzled chameleon who will certainly not live long enough to see me reach the end of the book, who cannot hear me anyway, but who I think appreciates the hand gestures that I use to bring the different characters to life. I believe this method to be a better way of wrapping one's head around the text.
The closest I have come to Gravity's Rainbow is listening to the middling to poor Pat Benatar album of the same title (released in 1993 when artists like Benatar, who were active during the 80s, didn't really have an answer fro grunge). I shall seek out the Pynchon original and absorb its maverick intelligence and wayward creativity, both of which are equivalent to hemlock as far as modern publishing is concerned.
I disagree with your one-word critique of Black Sabbath. If nothing else Master of Reality laid down the template for stoner rock. I will submit that the sleeve art for Paranoid is the worst album cover of all time and a strong candidate for worst work of art created by a sentient species.
I read this book on your recommendation. I was expecting something in the vein of Ulysses which I had previously battled through. The experience [of reading Joyce's magnum opus] was akin to attempting to find common intellectual ground with a decadent intelligence vastly superior to my own. I enjoyed what I could grasp, but imagine that great screeds flew miles over my head like flocks of migrating brent geese.
I found Gravity's Rainbow to be much less opaque, but challenging in an altogether different way. Practically every sentence is imbued with poetry or with deep knowledge, often on some arcane topic. It is hard to imagine how a book like this was authored in a pre-Internet era, when it was harder to casually feign expertise. You had to know things back then, or at very least visit a library and look things up. Pynchon seems to know a hell of a lot about a broad range of subjects.
I worked out that the best way to read this tome was to approach it the same way that I once did with Kerouac. Don't ponder too much - build momentum - allow the images and words to fly off the page, thick and fast. I have refrained from filing the book in the loft, as I think it is the kind of novel that I might open on a random page from time to time and read out of sequence. Currently it remains in my wardrobe, atop a stack of DVDs and a handbook on foraging.
I have two parting observations:
I think Alan Moore had this novel in mind when he wrote Watchmen.
There is passage that caused me great mirth and which I cannot locate at present, since Gravity's Rainbow is immense - like Borges' Book of Sand: It's when the landlady of one of Slothrop's sexual conquests plies him with a combination of foul English candies (a marmalade cream!?) and an equally revolting tea made from stewed limes. It triggered a flashback; a memory of my childhood Christmas visits to our elderly neighbours - the Scotts - who would always lavish me and my brothers with unsuitable gifts. When I was six years old they presented me with a box of liqueur chocolates, presented in miniature chocolate bottles - the strangest things I had ever tasted and my early introduction into the exciting world of alcohol.
Thank you for this very. I have loved this book since it was published and return to it once every decade or so. On each re-reading new meanings appear; its density and fractal structures
are an enduring joy. It was Pynchon's masterpiece. I do not think that any of his other works reach the same high level, although V works as a sort of rehearsal for GR and the short stories do have moments of greatness.
> to the Preterite, to those passed over
just like late the whole - and reasonably famous - Sirens of Titan had benn
> ... we’re dealing with a novel set largely in 1944-45 .... But to say that is a bit like saying that
> Ulysses is a book about Dublin in 1906 ...
You guys have more patience than I. I went and dug out my copy that I abandoned in frustrations years ago and gave it another attempt. Damn me if I didn't fail again.
Now, don't get me wrong, I can read one or two pages and marvel at the sentences. The book probably gives more great sentences per page than 99% of any book written. But as a complete work that allows a story to be told, it fails for me.
That being said, I think that the task that I will set myself for my dotage is to read maybe ten to fifteen pages a week. I don't think that the book lends itself to sitting down for an afternoon and enjoying the flow of the book and the story, but it does dazzle with its ability to convey images.
I have now acquired a copy of Gravity's Rainbow. I scanned some of the opening pages. Stylistically it was like immersing oneself in a Roy Lichtenstein painting. I think that I am going to enjoy the book, though I won't begin reading it until I have finished reading 'An Orkney Tapestry' by George Mackay Brown. Coincidentally, Brown penned a novel titled Vinland. Pynchon is the author of a book titled Vineland.
One thing that does interest me is the dedication in Gravity's Rainbow - to Richard Fariña, who (I never knew until now) was a friend of Pynchon's. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1966. I believe he was in his late 20s.
He left behind a small collection of folk songs, made with his wife Mimi (the sister of Joan Baez). At the time he was compared favourably to Dylan. There is no doubt he could play and the arrangements were good. I have always regarded these songs as more of a period curiosity. There is a finger wagging tone, but that was not uncommon for the times. The song titles, when taken together, bear a strong resemblance to what you would probably get if you asked an A.I. to create a fictional track listing for a mid-1960s Greenwich Village folk album.
Of more note was Fariña's novel 'Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me' which was published two days before his death. I read it many years ago and I may re-read it. The nearest comparison would be Kerouac's On the Road. The world lost a very promising literary talent when Fariña died.
'Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me' is perhaps better known as the title of a heads down blues stomp that appeared on, L.A. Woman - the final studio album by The Doors (I politely ignore the band's post-Morrison work) who you mention in passing.
I was assigned (and actually read) "The Crying of Lot 49" in the early '80s in my undergrad. I then struggled through "Vineland" (a Christmas gift from my brother) without making much sense of it one way or another. I decided then not to attempt either "V" or "Gravity's Rainbow" for the same reason I wouldn't ever tackle "Finnegan's Wake" ...
Tour de force. Best thing you’ve ever written that I've been able to read. Bravo.
Give me Gorky's The Life of Klim Samgin over GR any time.