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L'Arc-en-ciel de la gravité (1973)
par Thomas Pynchon
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What a trip.
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ?
Even though I got very little out of this, it was a fun wild trip...not ride. Is Pynchon on LSD or is he crazy or just a weird writer?
Erections, chaos, erections, bananas, erections, squids, erections, military, erections, WWII, erections, Shirley Temple, erections, some kind of plot, and last but not least ERECTIONS.
If you were going to adapt Gravity's Rainbow to a film, you'd have to use at least three or four different visual styles. Some scenes would look like a Neo Rausch painting. Others would be straight up retro comic book, with Lichtenstein dots, "ker-PLOW"s and "pLUNK!s" next to the action. Still others would be styled after a cubist painting titled "Girls Dancing in a Field" where you look at it and think: "Huh, where are the girls? Hell, for that matter where is the field?"
I love how abstract Pynchon's prose can be. Who else ever described seagulls flying over a beach as "faro folds off invisible thumbs"? But the "difficulty" here is vastly overrated, in my opinion. I found having a dictionary nearby more necessary than the notorious reference books - even if you don't know the exact Cary Grant movie Pynchon is referencing, when he says that someone flashes a "Cary Grant smile" you can pretty well work out what that means through context clues. On the other hand, there's no way I could have gotten through this without adding a few words to my vocabulary. Finding words like "sastrugi" gave me an experience like you have reading articles titled "Huh, [Exotic Foreign Tongue] Really Has a Word For That?" with my own language.
Pynchon often travels through digressions that don't supply the central context they're revolving around until you've arrived at the end - so you learn to read through confusing bits by going faster, instead of slowing down to try to parse each individual segment. All you really have to do is give his descriptions the benefit of the doubt enough to keep moving. Come on folks, important plot informations is given by an invincible light bulb telling his life story of traveling from ceiling to ceiling while being pursued by a lightbulb cartel - how can you think of this as Serious, Difficult Literature?
This is to say that if I'm being honest, I don't really get Pynchon's status in the Literati. Yet where one part of me feels like it's a strange joke, the rest of me feels like I'm in on it and I'm happy to laugh along.
I just couldn't like this book and several times I almost quit. If it had been a movie I would've popped out the DVD fairly quickly as it crossed a lot of my red lines. Why did I go on? Well it's a modern classic right? It's probably good for me. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, though. In running for the dirtiest book I've ever read. Ulysses by James Joyce and Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen are also in the running.
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There’s a dirty secret tucked away in Thomas Pynchon’s novels, and it’s this: beyond all the postmodernism and paranoia, the anarchism and socialism, the investigations into global power, the forays into labor politics and feminism and critical race theory, the rocket science, the fourth-dimensional mathematics, the philatelic conspiracies, the ’60s radicalism and everything else that has spawned 70 or 80 monographs, probably twice as many dissertations, and hundreds if not thousands of scholarly essays, his novels are full of cheesy love stories.
Those who have read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow know that those 700+ pages add up to more than just a novel; it’s an experience. The hundreds of characters are difficult to follow, the plot is nonsensical, sex is graphically depicted, drugs are smoked out of a kazoo and a poor light bulb goes through many humiliating experiences. But the brilliance of Gravity’s Rainbow is not in spite of its oddness but because of it.
Like one of his main characters, Pynchon in this book seems almost to be "in love, in sexual love, with his own death." His imagination--for all its glorious power and intelligence--is as limited in its way as Céline's or Jonathan Swift's. His novel is in this sense a work of paranoid genius, a magnificent necropolis that will take its place amidst the grand detritus of our culture. Its teetering structure is greater by far than the many surrounding literary shacks and hovels. But we must look to other writers for food and warmth.
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Wikipédia en anglais (3)
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.
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Classification décimale de Melvil (CDD)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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