Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gravity's Rainbow

As someone who doesn't read many novels, I made Thomas Pynchon's most critically aclaimed novel my 'Summer Holiday Challenge'. And a challenge it proved to be, in fact its 900 pages of opaque and beautifully written prose eventually defeated me and I found myself skip-reading the last 300 to finish the book before the holiday ended.

It is a bizarre and sprawling work, broadly following the fantastical life of Tyrone Slothrop, the victim of a Pavlovian experiment involving plastics that end up being used in the V2 bomb.

The storyline moves seamlessly (and frustratingly) from dream to reality to paranoid delusion as Slothrop struggles to discover who he is and what is and isn't real in the world he inhabits.

It is a tragedy and a farce. Religion, technology, psychology, sex, evil and truth are wrestled with using a surreal palette of physics, engineering, pornography and scatalogical humour.

I can't say I enjoyed the book, but I'm glad I waded through it. And I'm impressed enough with Pynchon's writing style that I'm going to read 'Mason & Dixon' next.

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