Pynchon, Thomas Gravity's Rainbow

ISBN 13: 9780099511755

Gravity's Rainbow

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9780099511755: Gravity's Rainbow

"The greatest, wildest author of his generation". ("Guardian"). We could tell you the year is 1944, that the main character is called Tyrone Slothrop and that he has a problem because bombs are falling across Europe and crashing to earth at the exact locations of his sexual conquests. But that doesn't really begin to cover it. Reading this book is like falling down a rabbit hole into an outlandish, sinister, mysterious, absurd, compulsive netherworld. As the "Financial Times" said, 'you must forget earlier notions about life and letters and even the Novel.' Forty years since publication, "Gravity's Rainbow" has lost none of its power to enthral.

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Review:

Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant opening sentence), "a screaming comes across the sky," heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. The novel's title, Gravity's Rainbow, refers to the rocket's vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again. History has been a big trick: the plan is to switch from floods to obliterating fire from the sky.

Slothrop's father was an unwitting part of the cosmic doublecross. To provide for the boy's future Harvard education, he took cash from the mad German scientist Laszlo Jamf, who performed Pavlovian experiments on the infant Tyrone. Laszlo invented Imipolex G, a new plastic useful in rocket insulation, and conditioned Tyrone's privates to respond to its presence. Now the grown-up Tyrone helplessly senses the Imipolex G in incoming V-2s, and his military superiors are investigating him. Soon he is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany.

That's just the Imipolex G tip of the shrieking vehicle that is Pynchon's book. It's pretty much impossible to follow a standard plot; one must have faith that each manic episode is connected with the great plot to blow up the world with the ultimate rocket. There is not one story, but a proliferation of characters (Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, Tantivy Mucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more) and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns only just past our comprehension. You will enjoy Pynchon's cartoon inferno far more if you consult Steven Weisenburger's brief companion to the novel, which sorts out Pynchon's blizzard of references to science, history, high culture, and the lowest of jokes. Rest easy: there really is a simple reason why Kekulé von Stradonitz's dream about a serpent biting its tail (which solved the structure of the benzene molecule) belongs in the same novel as the comic-book-hero Plastic Man.

Pynchon doesn't want you to rest easy with solved mysteries, though. Gravity's Rainbow uses beautiful prose to induce an altered state of consciousness, a buzz. It's a trip, and it will last. --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

Thomas Pynchon was born in Long Island, USA in 1937. He took a scholarship at Cornell University and studied Engineering before switching to study English. He has served in the United States Navy and worked as a technical writer at Boeing. Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason & Dixon. Against the Day, and most recently Inherent Vice. He received the national book award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The greatest, wildest author of his generation . ( Guardian ). We could tell you the year is 1944, that the main character is called Tyrone Slothrop and that he has a problem because bombs are falling across Europe and crashing to earth at the exact locations of his sexual conquests. But that doesn t really begin to cover it. Reading this book is like falling down a rabbit hole into an outlandish, sinister, mysterious, absurd, compulsive netherworld. As the Financial Times said, you must forget earlier notions about life and letters and even the Novel. Forty years since publication, Gravity s Rainbow has lost none of its power to enthral. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099511755

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