Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Parabolic Course Through Life, 3 April 2013
This review is from: Gravity's Rainbow (Paperback)
There are pieces of this work that are riveting, relevant, and highly cognizant of aspects of the human condition that are rarely explored. However, unless you like constant digressions into the stuff of dreamland, where digging out the story is a near Herculean task, where you need an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure cultural references, and have a fair working knowledge of both German and the facts of the German rocket operation of WWII, this book is not for you.

Starting from a rather different portrait of London at the beginning of the V1 and V2 attacks, it becomes immediately obvious that this is not a standard novel with clear-cut protagonists and structure. The characters introduced here are not your everyday people, as many are imbued with (possible) extra-sensory talents, such as one that makes sure the individual is never at the place where one of those rockets lands (at a near random place within London, but which follows a well known mathematical distribution). Nor is the organization one you have ever heard of, and its relationship to the top level power structure is Byzantine, something that becomes important to understanding the later stages of this work.

At the beginning of Part 2, we begin following the actions and adventures of one Slothrop, and the main focus of the work starts to come into view, as he diligently (for him) follows the clues to the design and fabrication of the A4 rocket, serial number 00000, and Impolex G, a new plastic of wondrous properties. This search will lead Slothrop to many corners of post-WWII Europe, and his obsessions, James Bondian actions, and just who he is underneath all his many guises and disguises forms the basic scaffold of the book's theme of paranoia run rampant, of the symbol of the rocket as a metaphor for both individual lives and that of multiple cultures.

All of this is buried in constant digressions from `reality' in often page-long sentences that drift inevitably towards the stuff of dreams and pure non-sense. Many times these digressions do paint images, sometimes quite forceful, a few beautiful, but many degrade into the pornographic and extremely gross (be warned! - I'm not easily disturbed by such things, but I found many of these just flatly beyond the pale). There are many poems, ditties, and `songs' in the later half that are nothing but bad doggerel, and do little to advance either theme or plot. There is a fair amount of un-translated German here, understanding of which is frequently important (happily I have a fair understanding of the language). The total cast of characters is quite large, and remembering who is who is quite a task. In short, digging out the gold in this work is not easy, and clearly the work could have been improved by a large amount of cutting of the `extraneous' material.

Still, there are pieces of this work that are illuminating, with themes and symbolism not frequently encountered, and sometimes the prose lifts to the realm of true poetry. Whether these aspects are enough to justify the effort of reading this is questionable, and probably depends on the individual reader's tolerance or liking of such things.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Aug 2013 20:30:20 BDT
Oh, come ON Hyperpat. This is just an excuse for inaction - and to sell books. (Springer is like a Rupert Murdoch operation - or William Randolph Hearst if you prefer. Would you buy a used planet from this man?)
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