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Gravity's Rainbow Paperback – 20 Jul 1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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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 (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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)

"Pynchon’s masterpiece." (John Sutherland Guardian)

"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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most seem to agree that this is THE Pynchon book. Definitely not a quick,light read, but there IS a plot which picks up pace after a while. And what a plot! The most prominent theme centres on one Tyrone Slothrop, an American in England, who was raised in Germany in the decades before WWII, and was exposed in some sort of Pavlovian conditioning experiment (conducted by one Laszlo Jamf) which left him with a sensitivity to a compound which turns out to be present in the V2 rockets raining down on London. 'Pavlovian conditioning' refers (and this is very crude, I realise) to the pioneering work of Behaviourist Psychologist Pavlov(funnily enough) who studied the effect, probably long known to dog and horse trainers, whereby the subject is given a reward for some 'thing', then eventually the subject will perform the 'thing' in anticipation of the reward. It is noted by British boffins and secret service types that every time Slothrop has a sexual encounter a V2 lands not long afterwards, and he is held in a 'facility' sort of like a a Bletchley Park (where Turing et al worked to break the nazi Enigma code), dedicated to occult and psychological warfare, to determine whether he is actually anticipating the stimulus, and therefore predicting V2 strikes. For the first half, or even two thirds, of the book the focus shifts between different characters and locations who, at first, seem to have no connection but WWII, and whose relation to the main plot isn't made clear, but they all start coming together in the most entertaining way as the location shifts to newly, partly,liberated Europe, when Slothrop escapes and heads to Germany to find Jamf (I can't remember why, to be honest), and a 'team' is sent after him to castrate him.Read more ›
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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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