Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gravity's Rainbow Progress Report

I'm almost halfway through Gravity's Rainbow, so I figured it's time for a progress report. I know GravRain fans aren't necessarily going to like this, but so far, comparing it to the other epics I've read recently, I find it less intellectually challenging than Finnegans Wake, less entertaining than Infinite Jest, and less profound than War & Peace. This really isn't intended to be all that critical, considering the novels I'm comparing it to, but I think it highlights more than anything that I don't quite have a grip on it yet. Probably the companion would have been helpful. (I'm using this, which is great but basic.)

The best scenes so far have a level of surrealist absurdity in a Catch-22 mold. (I think Slothrop with all the licorice candy is the best scene in the book so far.) But more often it just feels, to me, overstuffed and confusing. Maybe it's just the current section I'm reading, which moved from the zeppelin-pie getaway (surrealist absurdity, thumbs up) to some Tchitcherine/Enzian backstory that keeps losing me. I'm perfectly willing to concede this as a personal failure, and will endeavor to do better in part two.

I should say that some of the writing is gorgeous and I have dog-eared a lot of pages. This is from today's reading:

"Cows--big lummoxes splotched black and white, harnessed now for the plowing because German horses in the Zone are all but extinct--will drudge with straight faces right into minefields, sown back in the winter. The godawful blasts go drumming over the farmland, horns, hide and hamburger come showering down all over the place, and the dented bells lie quiet in the clover." (pg. 337)

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Blogger Shalini said...

Oh hai, Mo. I have not read Gravity's Rainbow, but just spent the last half hour reading your posts because I lost your blog URL and now I'm all OH MY GOD I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE MO PIE WHY DID I LOSE ALL MY RSS SUBSCRIPTIONS OH RIGHT GOOGLE READER *shakes fist*. Apologies, too much coffee and cake this morning. Just wanted to say you're still the best book reviewer on the internets. Can you replace Rosecranz B on NPR?

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly recommend this NYTimes review of GR:

12:53 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Hi Shalini hi hi hi hi! I love you back, and also your blog and your vlog, and because of you I will be reading "Bet Me" and "Fangirl" immediately. And thank you for saying the nice thing. :)


5:01 PM  

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