Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon (Rainy September)

Hi all! A bunch of people from Twitter and Fill-in-the-Gaps are going to be trying to help one another through the formidable tome that is Gravity's Rainbow, 1974 National Book Award winner and the book the New Republic called "The most profound and accomplished American novel since the end of World War II." As importantly, Lisa Simpson is a huge fan.

Now if you, like us, have always wished you had read Gravity's Rainbow so you could know what all the fuss is all about, but know you would never, ever get through the thing on your own, here's your chance! We have daily page goals, weekly check-ins on Mondays, and, I've heard a rumor, real, live book club gatherings at certain hot spots with enough readers. Said gatherings will probably include wine and/or cupcakes.

Here's your cordial invitation--starting this week, I'll keep a sidebar up with page counts through the end. I'll post a quick update here each Monday, along with any announced regional gatherings I've heard about. Obviously, the more people who join, the more fun and gatherings there will be. Leave me a comment and/or shoot me an email at moonratty@gmail.com if you want to play or suggest a meet-up.

Page counts are designed to be manageable--about 70 pages a week, or 10 pages a day. This way, you can read faster if you like, or you can still have time for other (perhaps lighter) reading, as well. (Since the book has no chapter breaks, the page counts are taken from the Penguin Classics edition, the only one currently in print.)

Here's the Rainy September (and October, and November) schedule:



Monday, September 21: through page 70

Monday, September 28: through page 140

Monday, October 5: through page 210

Monday, October 12: through page 280

Monday, October 19: through page 350

Monday, October 26: through page 420

Monday, November 2: through page 490

Monday, November 9: through page 560

Monday, November 16: through page 630

Monday, November 23: through page 700

Monday, November 30: through page 776, and PARTY!

50 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm in!

Gina Choe said...

I'm on board
twitter: @pebbleinmyshoe

Adam Joseph Drici said...

All over it.

I will be recruiting all of you next time I want to read a new book, by the way.

iasa said...

If I can find my copy, i'm in. Should have put it on my FITG list.

Ms. StepShow said...

Check out the blog on Gravity that is hosted by the National Book Foundation, the organization that presents the National Book Awards
http://www.nbafictionblog.org/nba-winning-books-blog/1974.html

bingol said...

I enjoy the fact that the most accomplished novel since the end of WWII is one which people know they'd "never, ever get through" on their own.

My query letters are like that. Honest.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I would love to, but my backlog of books to review is so massive I'm going to need ghost readers just to make it through them. ;-) It's a great idea, though and I'll be interested to follow it.

Michael Reynolds said...

Can I just read the book reviews and pretend I read it?

Linda said...

Heck, I got through MIDLEMARCH; this should be a breeze. I am IN!

Don't promise to stay on schedule, but I do promise to finish. Besides, it's in my Top ~100 TBR.

Gonna download to my kindle tonight... Peace, Linda

sandralambert said...

I am so in. How can I not be after the fun we had reading Middlemarch together.

Gary Corby said...

Just to send the whole plan off course...The Crying Of Lot 49 is better than Gravity's Rainbow, in my not so humble opinion.

If there are any readers feeling daunted by the challenge of the larger book, begin with The Crying Of Lot 49.

Pamala Knight said...

Okie doke. If Book Club equals chance of cupcakes, then I'm in. I don't know where my copy is (probably in the book graveyard that's formed in my garage attic) but I'll get a copy and get cracking on the schedule.

Chris Forster said...

I'm in!
twitter: @cforster

Haven't read GR before; Gary Corby's suggestion that Crying of Lot 49 is a fun introduction to Pynchon is seconded here though.

tomawesome said...

I'm in (although I'm also still in the 1st half of 'Infinite Jest")...

Anonymous said...

Good luck. I'd play but I've been there already and I just wanted to put in a word of encouragement: if you can make it to section with the octopus, you can get all way. After that, it's just one long hilarious, heart-breaking chase scene.

terri said...

Alrighty! I'll give it a try.

Twitter: @cxrterri

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for something since my Infinite Summer ended in July. I'm in. zachvsyojimbo@gmail.com. Twitter @workshop_phx

Joshua said...

i'll do it. twitter: @jnonfiction

Alex S. said...

Any chance you might delay the start until Sept. 21, to coincide with the end of Infinite Summer? Gravity's Fall, perhaps?

Scott Jones said...

I agree with Alex S, you should do this once Infinite Summer is done! Count me in! Already read it once, looking for an excuse to do it again!

Brian said...

. . . just when i thought i could catch up on the two or three of the 10 books added to my queue during my almost year-long (started IJ last october, was quite inspired by the infsum crew and had a bit more time on my hand) infinite read . . .

but hell yeah

read gravity's rainbow a few years ago. was still in school (a youngun' by some accounts) so i'd like to hit it again - so far against the day has been my fav pynchon (throw rocks at me now, but i apologize i am sort of a sucker for the sap and atd does veer there now and again) . . . with all that said - once again: hell yeah let's do this

twitter @electricvishnu

Adrian Clark said...

Just finished reading it for the 3rd time... to be honest, I just don't think it stands up as well as several of his other works... V, Vineland or even Mason & Dixon. There's a ton of fantastic writing in there, and you expect the multi-layered digressions in every Pynchon book, but both Vineland and V seem to do that with a lot more finesse to me.

Kate said...

I'm in! It'll make me a better person, right?

Lydia Sharp said...

Wine and/or cupcakes...hmm...that's tempting.

eryoshimura said...

Sounds good!! You know how for Infinite Jest we had Kindle locations to go along with the page markings? Could we do the same here?

I'll be starting once Infinite Summer has reached its conclusion. Looking forward to reading this with everyone!

eryoshimura said...

Ack! Disregard the request for Kindle locations. It is apparently not available for the Kindle, which means I'm not going to be able to stealth read at my desk at work. :(

Luella said...

Excellent. It's on this year's list of books I want to read.

SomedayAuthor said...

I sent you an email to let you know I was in for the reading group. Just wanted to make sure you got it, I sent it on the day the earth stood still. (aka, while gmail was down!). Looking forward to it!

twitter is @trishaleighkc

FionaJane said...

I'm in - even though I struggle with American Novels, and my brain doesn't seem to be working at the moment!

Twitter: @lfsanders

Interestingly, there are at least two editions in print in the UK at the moment (at least, there were two in the shop I went into, which almost confused me enough to make me forget which title I wanted to buy): the Penguin, and a Vintage paperback. The Penguin is thinner, more expensive, and much, much heavier. As I seem to need to spend a lot of time horizontal at the moment, that almost made me opt for the Vintage - before deciding that I didn't want to be a constant nuisance asking about page numbers. So I got the heavy Penguin after all.

Kat said...

I'd like to give this a try! I'm in Leeds, in the UK so if anyone is in the area and wants to do some sort of meet up?

Twitter: @ladyscience

dizzwave said...

count me in! My third read, but I feel this'll be the clearest! I just started Inherent Vice, but think it's worth setting it aside to join the fun on this.
I'm @dizzwave on Twitter, and I'll be posting about my progress. Might get an early start today....

CKHB said...

Hey, a gap in my reading that I don't need to fill! (My best friend's dad was obsessed with the book, so I read it in junior high or something crazy like that.)

I'd be thrilled to join on another book later on if you keep these groups going...

moonrat said...

oh my gawsh, this is so exciting!!

Wendy Russell said...

Love to. I got through half of it nearly 30 years ago. I'd like to be convinced it's really a great novel...

Megan said...

I third the request for waiting until the end of Infinite Summer. But perhaps we can just form a smaller subgroup and be emboldened by your example!

injera said...

Couldn't find the Penguin edition, so will have to try to keep track with the Vintage. Infinite Summer gave me the kick I needed to tackle Infinite Jest, so I'm pleased to have another motivator to keep on reading.

Twittering at @injerarufus

Is there a hashtag for this project yet?

moonrat said...

Injera--lots of people have been using #gravrain

Linda said...

Gonna try, if I can find a copy of the book.
twitter - @LStauf3831

Dan Lehr said...

I'm @Public_Interest on Twitter, & I'm now on page 39, taking it one slow paragraph at a time.

I read this 1st in '97, back when the internet was *just* getting started up - I hope I'll get more help online this time.

I don't claim to be any kind of a GR guru - I'm just passionate about this book & this author & look forward to digging further under the layers to see what I can find &/or understand this time around.

On Twitter, I've been using the #gravrain hashtag. Please check out what I've already posted there - I've provided some must-bookmark links to help you along.

Plus I'm a blogger/local tv newscast producer & if you need me to research any idea further, or help out w/ some spoiler-free context, I'm here for you.

I will say that throughout the book, keep your eyes peeled for these constant recurring themes (& there are tons more, these are ones in which I'm most interested):

1. Any "V" in any form: verbal, visual, or geometrically contextual, including inverted ones (a la ^, clock faces, etc.).

2. Entropy - the concept of all things in the universe running in a continual downward - or, rather, more chaotic - direction along the arrow of time.

3. Paranoia - I just read the line "it's a great swamp of paranoia" & that's a perfect description of this book. Not only are the characters (rightly(..?)) paranoid about various things, but you yourself should also be paranoid of this author, more so than in other books. (He's not always necessarily trying to help you).

4. The question of what lies between (beyond..?) the 1 & the 0, the hidden 'third' option when given just two choices. A perfect example of this is the 2nd-to-last paragraph of the 1st section.

Welcome, folks! I look forward to your thoughts & help!

Web said...

It was this or sit around waiting for the next 'Twilight" book. :) I'd twit that: @webslog.

sarahloldfield said...

I'm in... in between a rock and a hard place. Get hopelessly behind right from the start, or try to read Gravrain simultaneously with the end of IJ?

Help!

Lydia Sharp said...

All right, I'm in. Way to be "last minute", eh? ;)

Just remember, I was promised wine and/or cupcakes. And I'd prefer not to drink and/or bake alone.

tom collins said...

Sign me up for this long haul! Wonderful to know that so many people are still available for such a read! I suspect it's something that has lain dormant in some cubby-hole of the mind, for years. it's my case. I've never even touched the book, out of fear and excess respect!

Philip said...

Great Idea! I've been meaning to give GR another try.

Ignacio Sanchez Arevalo said...

Hello everybody.
Sign me in. This is my first reading group, I hope i will understand how it works, I´m from Spain.

anothercookiecrumbles said...

I'm in, and am really looking forward to it.

Thanks for hosting it, and good luck everyone!

Lynn said...

Only 776 pages? That's just average length. I'm not going to jump in right now though. Busy with Andre Norton this month.

Nikki B said...

I'd like to give it a shot! Is it too late to join? I promise I can catch up!

moonrat said...

the more the merrier, Nikki!!

Maya Gingery said...

Was just talking about this with a friend, so great timing. Now if I could just find my book...