Monday, October 12, 2009

Gravity's Rainbow Read-Along: Week 4 (p 211-280)

Happy Columbus Day, Americans, let's all celebrate the millions who died for colonialism etc. Canadians, meanwhile, are all enjoying their turkeys--Happy Thanksgiving, northern friends!

Ok, I'm sure we're over 1/3 done now. Everyone staying strong?

Thoughts/feelings/tears/laughter/fears/joys welcome as usual!

21 comments:

Kristan said...

Um, completely not related to Gravity's Rainbow, but I saw this in the New Yorker today and thought of you:

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2009/10/19/091019sh_shouts_weiner

:)

moonrat said...

oh god, Kristan, you made me cry. twice.

Lydia Sharp said...

I'm embarrassed by how far behind I am. But in all fairness, I was out of town for the last five days. I did bring the book with me, but only managed to read about ten pages. FAIL!

Okay. I'll catch up by next week and have something meaningful to contribute. Promise.

John said...

The comments section is quiet today. I hope it's because many people are using the holiday to catch up on reading Gravity's Rainbow, and not because people have given up. I can't imagine this second section caused too many people to run away screaming if they already got through the first part...this section was funny, and it was actually kind of easy to follow (other than that weird scene with Slothrop in the plane with Richard Halliburton--did anyone understand what was going on there?)

I also liked the "Proverbs for Paranoids" scattered throughout, especially number five: "Paranoids are not paranoid because they're paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations." It really made me wonder how much of Slothrop's troubles are in his mind.

Kristan said...

LOL aww. I hope at least one of those times was with tears of hilarity...

Jane Steen said...

I'm keeping up... I'm definitely beginning to wonder about Slothrop's reality. He could still be in the White Visitation being given drugs... I became a bit suspicious from the Casino onwards, an unlikely situation even at the end of WWII.

I don't think I'll ever work it out properly unless I a) give in and buy a companion book, b) read it again and take detailed notes on characters and action. Not sure if I want to do either. Maybe I'll just live with the mystery.

Jane Steen said...

BTW any chance of those who have given up checking in and fessing up? No shame involved - I've given up on quite a few books - but I'd love to hear why, at what point in the narrative, etc. I think it'd be instructional for the writers & publishing people who follow this blog to read why it didn't work for you.

moonrat said...

Jane--good point. But I suspect it will be hard to get answers, since most people intend to come back eventually!

This book is one that I fear if I fell just a little behind I'd totally throw my hands up at. I need my support group to keep me going.

After this is over, let's read something nice and light. I was thinking Ulysses. (KIDDING!) But yeah, something nice and light.

moonrat said...

Oh also--did anyone else find the Brigadier Pudding scene unnecessarily gross?

Lisa said...

I'm still here, but I didn't get anything read this week because I went out of town and didn't feel like lugging it along. Then when I came back I got into some home improvement projects so I avoided returning to it. I'm still in though and yes I DID find the Brigadier General Pudding scene unnecessarily gross. Was that really necessary? Blech.

tomawesome said...

I think I'm on schedule... Slothrop's in Germany now and just hooked up with yet another a cute young thing. Reading this I feel like I'm jumping from one sick mind to another so reality is quite blurred. Coming off of Infinite Jest, I feel right at home. Pynchon keeps things more or less sequential at least, but you have to pick up on key events he seems to idly toss in...

Linda said...

Hey all, I'm behind but still in the fray. I, for one, love this book. Then again, I love crazy stuff about crazy people. I keep rereading sections over and over again. Mostly because I like the way this guy writes (there are times when I'm convinced I;m reading prose poetry), but sometimes I get stuck because I have no idea what is going on.

I'm convinced Slothrop's having visions or deep in his head via White Visitation tactics. The casino section was almost slapstick in places, surreal in others. Pynchon is brilliant at conveying the paranoia and dirty tactics used in war.

I will give in and buy the companion book - after I've read through once. If I was a lit doctoral student - this would be my thesis ;^)

Happy Columbus Day. Peace, Linda

M. said...

Hi, I'm a new moonratite-
going OT due to scrolling down and seeing the sibling darkfriend poll.

I whipped my way through all those tomes in a year or so and felt bereft and scarred by the news that the author had passed away. Without finishing the final,climactic volume. Haven't dared start a long new series since (I'm looking at you, Outlander). Totally conflicted by the news that someone was tapped to finish the story, don't know if I'll be able to read it.

No tidbits about how it's going????
And no, I don't care if I sound desperate.

Isabella said...

Happy Columbus Day to you too.

Kate said...

I'll fess up, Jane. I'm on like page 40. I haven't exactly given up, I've just moved it to the bottom of my priorities.

Not knowing anything about it, I thought GravRain would be as good a book as any to read in my scattered downtime.

Clearly, I was being stupid.

I define downtime activities as passive. This just isn't an unwinding-before-bed or get-a-few-pages-in-while-waiting-for-something sort of book. It's more of a take-the-SAT-for-fun kind of experience.

My problem isn't not knowing what's going on. It's the insane lexicon. I read like a computer: I fully process every word. For me, the language in this book overwhelms the story instead of serving it.

I don't dislike GravRain. I just don't like it enough to spare the necessary concentration on it. I'm too busy and life is too short.

pacatrue said...

Columbus Day is a tough holiday. On the one hand, as your post mentions, millions of people died and cultures were destroyed because of the settlement of the New World by Europeans, Africans, and others. At the same time, here are some things we got from such settlement:

Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, Garcia Marquez, Michael Chabon, probably almost everyone your house has ever published (?), baseball, moon landing, Declaration of Independence, jazz, blues, salsa, meringue, the musical, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, contemporary Asian pop (which is of course western pop turned around), Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan....

None of this makes the actions of colonialists the right ones. We would have gotten an entirely different set of cultural icons without the settlement. But the fact that all of these things did result makes the day in history possibly worth noting?

Leigh Russell said...

How different the world might have been if no one had settled in the New World when it was discovered . . . I can't begin to imagine! Someone must have written a book about it?

Bostonia Magazine said...

An interesting article on why we don't need literary agents or publishers anymore.

http://www.bu.edu/bostonia/fall09/kirsner/

john bruni said...

Well, I think it's amusing that the straightlaced General is into such bizarre fantasies. It's also pretty funny how They lose Slothrop.

At times, I'm just completely amazed that one writer could dream all of this up.

For people feeling perplexed, it isn't necessary to go out and buy the Companion. There are useful guides on the Internet you can consult.

moonrat said...

I love that this one stream of comments has gone in so many directions. It's awesome.

M--it's a reread. Possibly a rereread, even. Maybe we should take this conversation offline cuz it could get long and ugly ;)

Paca--you're right. Good point.

And to everyone who actually commented on GR--thanks for commenting! I confess I'm about 30 pages behind. Ha! Which is why I haven't said much. But I'm hell-bent on next week.

M. said...

Uh oh, now there are two M.s? This could get confusing. Maybe we could differentiate one another by numbers -- M. I and M. II? How about taking a page from the Iliad and being M. the Greater and M. the Lesser? Or hey, perhaps everyone can just remember that I'm the pretty one? (kidding, kidding)

Oh well, on to Gravity's Rainbow. I am still behind on my reading, but I've also read it a couple times before, so that isn't as much of a problem for the purposes of this discussion.

I was disgusted by the Brigadier General Pudding scene on my first reading, but now I like the way it works. This guy's entire reputation is based on a WWI victory that, in true WWI fashion, resulted in the deaths of nearly everyone under his command and resulted in no meaningful change for either side of the conflict. In fact, the only thing that benefited from that battle was Pudding's career, and because of that he's carrying around a hell of a lot of guilt. The abuse he willingly receives seems to be an externalization of that inner turmoil.

Jane - I have a copy of Weisenberger's A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. I've found it pretty useful, but I should warn you that it's geared more toward academics -- lots of explanations of Pynchon's source for information on such and such a point, etc. It also points out connections and parallels to things that happen later on in the book, so it'll end up spoiling some plot points for you.