Gravity's Rainbow

It's hard to shake off the sting of defeat, but somehow I feel that by giving up on reading the much-lauded (and hated) cult classic Gravity's Rainbow, that I'm beaten. I think the Wikipedia entry summarizes the book well in its introduction:
    Frequently digressive, the novel subverts many of the traditional elements of plot and character development, traverses detailed, specialist knowledge drawn from a wide range of disciplines, and has earned a reputation as a "difficult" book.

    In 1974, the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction supported Gravity's Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. However, the other eleven members of the board overturned this decision, branding the book "unreadable, turgid, overwritten, and obscene." The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity's Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two reader's guides and several online concordances, and is widely regarded as Pynchon's magnum opus.
I read about 90 pages of the book, and I'm not really sure what it is about to that point except V2 rockets are falling on London in WW2 and they may be related to one man's sexual conquests. It's no exaggeration to say that the book WILDLY digresses (one Amazon reader mocked that to digress you would have to have something to digress FROM) on all manner of topic, to the point that if your attention does not sway on every single page, you are a gifted reader, indeed. Thomas Pynchon is gifted, by the way, with turn-of-phrase, with amazing level of description, and actual laugh-out-loud jokes and insightful observations. Those occasional nuggets of charm were enough to keep me plowing through what ultimately I agree is unreadable morass of "plot", until I passed the point where I was getting nearly as much pleasure out of the book as pain.Before I got to that point, I read some of the "pro" comments on Amazon just to get a few "learned" opinions. From C. Gardner:
    "Gravity's Rainbow" is definitely the most bizarre and challenging book I've ever read. One can't just sit down and read it; it demands the most concentration you'll ever have to muster to read a work of fiction (if you're going to try it, by all means get Steven Weisenburger's companion book).
Unfortunately, I do the lion's share of my reading on the Metro, and I have no intent to bring two books along. From JReid, entitled "A Challenge to All Lazy People":
    When I first read this book I did so without wanting to put any effort into it. I was lazy. I didn't bother to look up any of the historical, scientific, or pop cultural references...The process was arduous, painful, and frustrating. I hated this book. I simply didn't know what he was saying because I couldn't put anything into context...I believe that one of Pynchon's goals is to dare the reader into reading this book. Simply put, he wants us to work. Kierkegaard said that being a Christian should not be an easy task. The same is true, I think, in literature. For, the safer literature gets, the more it comes to resemble TV...
Well, you had me there until, of course, you made an analogy to Christianity. It is tough to be a Christian; you have to work hard to ignore the truth of the world. But the rewards are great! And if you think "TV" is all spoon-fed crap, then you haven't been watching the right shows.

Read more of them if you like, but they all boil down to a few common threads:
  • The book is not meant to be understood.
  • The book is meant to challenge your intellect.
  • The book is incredibly hard to finish.
Wow, where do I get a copy!

Ultimately, I feel that the book wouldn't be considered as "great" if it wasn't such a painful experience to finish it. It's not that I don't 'get it' (obviously one needs a companion book to do that), but that it was incredibly boring. I mean more boring than the first six chapters of Fellowship of the Ring boring (we're walking and we're walking...). At least THAT was coherent!

Anyone who wants to have my copy, let me know. Mint condition, thrown only once.

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