Monday, October 19, 2009

Gravity's Rainbow Read-Along: Week 5 (p 281-350)

Sniff, sniff... Smell that? That's halfway through I smell--we must be close.

Everyone staying strong?

thoughts/feelings/etc in the comments please!


John said...

I was so worried I was going to fall behind. If I hadn't had a Saturday of terrible weather, I very well might have. Instead, I powered through and am now exactly on schedule (although exactly on schedule kind of worries me. I'd rather have something of a buffer.)

This section is CRAZY. It's all Slothrop, all the time, and I worry that it might get old. I think this is the section where I gave up last time I read it. But I will not be defeated again. I did like the wild chase through the Mittelwerke, and the increasing presence of Enzian. Tchitcherine (I hope I spelled that right) is an odd character, but I'm not seeing his importance yet. Especially if Slothrop is just trying to get out of the area.

Finally: the escape via balloon and the subsequent pie fight (it sounds strange to have all of this in one novel, doesn't it?) were hilarious. And the limericks whenever the crazed Americans get close? Absurd. Wasn't a major part of Pynchon's "Against the Day" about a group of balloonists? I seem to remember hearing that somewhere. Is there any connection? And how does Balloon Boy play into this? Is he one of Them?

moonrat said...

John--so funny, but for me this is the LEAST crazy section thus far! I am only just starting to catch on with what's going on.

And yeah, apparently there are tons of connections with this and other Pynchon books--recurring characters, recurring themes... Apparenly a lot of V takes place among the Hereros. (There's an avid Pynchon reader in our meet-up group.)

I loved all the themes about colonialism--the connections between (variously) oppression, war, racism, rockets, and sex.

Jane Steen said...

I'm with John, I miss the White Visitation and I'm worried I'm going to get tired of the Slothrop storyline. I can't get into the Herero story either. But I did love the balloon chase - the limericks were great.

I think that the story becomes more linear and less insane because of the war's end - under the rocket attacks everyone was entitled to be a total lunatic, but with the end of the war there is a future to be considered and positions to be taken. The resulting manoeuvering forms the background to Slothrop's adventures in this section, in my opinion.

The link between war and sex seems pretty strong; I'm wondering whether Slothrop's libido will diminish now that the rockets are gone.

I wish I had the time to work out all the jokes in the names of the characters. Some of them are obvious, like Geli Tripping (if you know it's pronounced "gaily") but I'm sure every name has a joke behind it.

M. said...

Yep, there's an entire chapter in V. that takes place in southwestern Africa during the Herero Wars (chapter nine, to be exact). Pynchon seems to view what happens to the Hereros as both a precursor to the Holocaust as well as a case study in the sort of racist, imperialist colonialism that has led to the genocide of indigenous peoples the world over.

I love the names Pynchon gives his characters. My favorite is the main character in The Crying of Lot 49, Oedipa Maas. The Oedipa bit was easy enough to figure out, but it wasn't until a few years later while I was doing some research for a paper in college that I learned that Maas is the name of a beverage in South Africa made from whole milk that's allowed to stand at room temperature until it clots and thickens. It's also nice that he's perfectly okay with using a name to make a bad joke or pun instead of trying to fill each and every one with some sort of deep hidden meaning.

dan said...

Is That a Vook You're Screading or Are You Just Kindling?

by Richard Curtis, literary agent, NYC

While neuroscientists and child development specialists have been
delving into the psychology of reading e-books and vooks (see The
Medium Is The Screen, But The Message is Distraction), a blogger named
Danny Bloom has occupied himself with the nomenclature.

Plain old "reading" simply doesn't seem to cover the various acts
necessary to experience a multimedia vook that we have to click,
scroll, screen, watch, listen to, and - yes - read. So Bloom, who has
been aggregating on his blog a great deal of cogent information and
articles about e-books, has proposed the word "Screading", combining
screening and reading.

We buy it completely, and from now on, "Screading" it will be.

Bloom also brought to my attention that "Kindle" is now a verb. It may
be a while before "Nook" achieves verb status, however.