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Gravity's Rainbow Paperback – 20 Jul 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (20 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099533219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099533214
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Product Description


"The best seller described as the kind of Ulysses which Joyce might have written if he had been a Boeing engineer with a fetish for quadrille paper" (Irish Examiner)

"This stunner is already classed with Moby Dick and Ulysses. Set in Europe at the end of WWII, with the V2 as the White Whale, the novel's central characters race each other through a treasure hunt of false clues, disguises, distractions, horrific plots and comic counterplots to arrive at the formula which will launch the Super Rocket... Impossible here to convey the vastness of Pynchton's range, the brilliance of his imagery, the virtuosity of his style and his supreme ability to incorporate the cultural miasma of modern life" (Vogue)

"Pynchon leaves the rest of the American lierary establishment at the starting gate...the range over which he moves is extraordinary, not simply in terms of ideas explored but also in the range of emotions he takes you through" (Time Out)

"Entering this enormous novel is like buying a ticket for the ghost train and plunging into a world of metaphysical illusion, where you must forget earlier notions about life and letters and even the Novel" (Financial Times)

Book Description

Thomas Pynchon's opus magnus, a post-modern masterpiece and a dark satire of twentieth century culture and civilisation from one of the all-time greats of American literature.

Winner of the National Book Award.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

206 of 208 people found the following review helpful By S. James on 27 July 2012
Format: Paperback
1) It's about rocket science. Therefore, it allows for a hypothetical situation in which, hearing you complain about what a long, hard read it is, some passer-by rolls his eyes and mutters, "it's not rocket science." To which you can reply that actually, it is.

2) It has rude bits. Very rude bits. Frankly just plain wrong bits. So, while others see you reading a classic of post-modern literature, you'll know you're actually reading about extreme fetish sex that makes 50 Shades of Gray look like The Jane Austen Guide to Better Intimate Relations.

3) When it's not baffling or scatological, it's funny. For instance: Pynchon's description of the full horrors of traditional British confectionary is hilarious, and will be utterly familiar to anyone that remembers having cough candy forced onto them by sadistic grandparents.

4) You will get fit reading it. If you're the kind of person who is even contemplating reading this book, chances are that sport was not your best subject at school. A couple of weeks of holding this breezeblock while continually scratching your head and stroking your chin will leave you with arms like a stevedore's.

5) You will get stuff done around the house. That fence panel that needs fixing, that leak in the roof, that room you've been meaning to tidy; once Gravity's Rainbow makes your leisure time harder work than your chores, your normal prevarication routines will be completely turned on their head. Friends and family will wonder how your scruffy dusty book filled slum has been transformed into a gleaming futurist show home, and you'll be able to recommend them some reading material that does the job better than any bottle of Mr Muscle.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F.R. Jameson on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to this book but as I turned the final page, despite the many things I'd liked about it, I was somewhat disappointed.

First off the good: this is a hugely ambitious and in parts wildly entertaining march across war-torn and post-war Europe. Truly there is a great deal of joy to be had in watching Pynchon's imagination unfold. It's brilliantly written (some of the passages are like prose poetry) and frequently laugh-out loud funny. The characters are memorable and alive, the set pieces expertly handled and there are many images throughout which are large and thought provoking and will stay with me for a long time. What's more, it comes close to creating a new and seemingly impossible form - the novel which is also a musical. Throughout there are lyrics and rhymes punctuating the action (indeed, often commentating on it) and the whole book has the loose feel of free-form jazz.

There's a lot to admire about `Gravity's Rainbow'.

However, because the focus changes between different characters and different locations (and sometimes different realities), it's sometimes hard for the reader to keep up. The narrative's constant digressions can be wonderfully entertaining, but they can also be fruitless and frustrating. I often felt that Pynchon was just heading off in a particular direction on a mere whim, and - as I'm sure I've stated before - the whimsical is not a quality I particularly like in a novel. Even though it is often entertaining and very funny, the reader sometimes has to tread through treacle to get to those moments. It's frequently worthwhile when he or she arrives, but the trip can be quite plodding.

As such this is a book I'm torn over.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Naish on 23 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
Firstly the star rating. I've given Gravity's Rainbow a 5. Other people wil give it 1. Of course, everybody's different and that is as it should be. But for a book to get two ratings, both legetimate, at opposite ends of the scale should tell you something about the book. This is one that either you'll love or hate. I come into the former category. I have a well thumbed copy, some 20 plus years old now. I've actually read the book from cover to cover twice, but mostly I read bits, sections, passages. Pynchon has the ability to write prose that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck; that makes you stop, take a deep breath then go back and read the sentence or paragragh again because it's just so good. Very few writers can do that.
I won't bother trying to tell you what the books about, although there is a passage towards the end, one of those you read, re-read and then re-read again, that comes as close as Pynchon ever would, to giving you a guide to the book (it's the one that begins 'It's been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks...') The only piece of advice I'd give is this, if you want an easy read, nice plot where all the ends are tied up, and where your brain doesn't have to work too hard, leave this book well alone - either you'll throw it through the window or it'll send you round the bend. If, on the other hand, you like a challenge, then this book is for you - it could be the best novel you'll ever read. Yes, it is that good!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Treefingers on 23 July 2009
Format: Paperback
The book is certainly a challenge, but enjoyable if you follow it on its own terms. My advice: start on page 1, and keep reading until the end - do not skip sections no matter how much you may be tempted!

The writing is very entertaining, engaging and hilarious at times; on other occasions it is incredibly frustrating. I found it best to just keep plugging along without trying too hard to always get the meaning.

Some of the stranger sections probably require a few readings before you get a sense of what Pynchon is saying. Don't let it bother you, however. I found that repeated readings of a particularly hard section will often bring great rewards as the piece begins to take shape as a whole, even when individual sentences are completely un-intelligible.

It is not worth getting into the plot too much in a short review, but what I will say is that this book is absolutely vast. It contains layers upon layers of detailed imagery, tangents, tangents upon tangents, and a vast amount of cultural and social references. It does require some effort to complete.

For these reasons, I fully expected that this book would be a very love/it hate affair, and the reviews so far seem to bear this out. If you are up for a bit of more challenging read than the norm, however, I think reading this novel is as good a way as any to spend (admittedly huge amounts of!) your time.
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