MARATHON READ


 

I’m exhausted. But I FINISHED IT!   Yay! This was a monster read; a brute of a book, all 900 pages . It took me three weeks to stagger through this epic American novel. On 31 December  2014 I hauled it out of my To be read pile and told myself: The time has come. This novel has lurked in your cupboard for a whole year. You bought it because you wanted to read it. Now read the damn thing!

So I opened Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas PynchonPngMedium-nuclear-rocket-weapon-warhead-missile-16308, and started to read. The opening pages were crazy mad, but I pressed on. And on. And on. AND ON.

The back  book cover warned me that “it is impossible to do justice to the novel” , meaning that in the restricted space, they could not provide a nifty little précis of the plot. (Plot? What plot? Which plot? So many to choose from …). They were not wrong! Truly, the novel defies description.

Mid-point, when I despaired of (a) ever making any sense out of it or (b) finishing the wretched thing, I consulted that treasure trove, known as Wikipedia, which told me – among other things – that Gravity  has been variously described as ‘Pynchon’s masterpiece’;  ‘the Great American Novel’; and that numerous students have written dissertations based on the book.  If you are thinking of tackling any of Pynchon’s novels, I urge you to read the Wikipedia article first. It gave perspective, and (some) clarity to what I was struggling through.

I can tell you with confidence that the story is set in WWII Europe, and that Rockets feature largely in the story. Other than that, I’m not prepared to commit myself. I will however, chuck around a few descriptive adjectives: crazy, comic, paranoid, obscene, phallocentric, disgusting, baffling, confusing, erotic, cynical, sad, weird, arcane, …. oh and a whole lot more besides.  Not forgetting the funny limericks and bawdy ballads that pop up periodically. I get the feeling that TP  was – at that point in his life, the early 1970s  – a wannabe writer of musical shows. Who knows? With his  dazzling prose and lyrical descriptive passages, I reckon he could write in any genre that appealed to him.

Did I enjoy the book?  Umm … some of it; the lyrical descriptions of place, for example. Other parts: definitely not!

Will I ever read another Thomas Pynchon novel? Maybe – once I’ve recovered from reading Gravity’s Rainbow.  I might take a Stab at ‘V’. But not now.

I wonder if any of my readers are Pynchon fans? Would love to hear from you, if you are.

Lastly: I’d like to exchange /swop the book. I will not be re-reading it – once is all I can manage! I’m looking for Vladimir Nabokov’s novel  Pale Fire       which is neither in the Cape Town library system, nor in local bookshops. I can buy a hardback copy on line, at vast expense. Any offers?

 

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4 Comments

Filed under BOOK REVIEWS

4 responses to “MARATHON READ

  1. Anything that’s too heavy to read in bed gets the thumbs down from me!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Couldn’t agree more – and heavy books falling onto one’s bifocals play havoc with the frames. I didn’t even try to read GR during the hours of darkness – print too small, for one thing, and mu weary brain doesn’t do well after about 1700.

    Like

  3. Yes, agree with Ginny. A broken nose doesn’t figure on my list of plastic surgery ‘wants’. However, you have intrigued me re the book. Sorry to say I do not have the book you are looking for, though.

    Like

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