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Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow

Paperback Vintage Books

By (author) Thomas Pynchon

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 912 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 198mm x 52mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 3 January 1998
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099533219
  • ISBN 13: 9780099533214
  • Sales rank: 7,268

Product description

Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then, as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sibilant opening sentence, 'a screaming comes across the sky', heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. Soon Tyrone is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany. Gravity's Rainbow is never a single story, but a proliferation of characters - Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, Tantivy Mucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more - and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns only just past our comprehension. It is a blizzard of references to science, history, high culture, and the lowest of jokes and among the most important novels of our time. Winner of the National Book Award.

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Author information

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon, Against the Day and Inherent Vice. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Review quote

"The best seller described as the kind of Ulysses which Joyce might have written if he had been a Boeing engineer with a fetish for quadrille paper" Irish Examiner "This stunner is already classed with Moby Dick and Ulysses. Set in Europe at the end of WWII, with the V2 as the White Whale, the novel's central characters race each other through a treasure hunt of false clues, disguises, distractions, horrific plots and comic counterplots to arrive at the formula which will launch the Super Rocket... Impossible here to convey the vastness of Pynchton's range, the brilliance of his imagery, the virtuosity of his style and his supreme ability to incorporate the cultural miasma of modern life" Vogue "Pynchon leaves the rest of the American lierary establishment at the starting gate...the range over which he moves is extraordinary, not simply in terms of ideas explored but also in the range of emotions he takes you through" Time Out "Entering this enormous novel is like buying a ticket for the ghost train and plunging into a world of metaphysical illusion, where you must forget earlier notions about life and letters and even the Novel" Financial Times

Editorial reviews

Between V., Pynchon's maverick if disorderly first novel, and Gravity's Rainbow which is still more unstrung and far denser while lacking the narrative encroachment of the earlier book, there is even a direct line of extension. Very literally - it is a third longer than the original's 500 pages; but where V. was only death-directed, this seems almost death-obsessed and annihilation (from the V-bombs of World War II to the later Rocket with which this is concerned) looms over every page in a world where the technology of terror presides. . . . "Is the cycle over now and a new one ready to begin? Will our new Edge, our new Deathkingdom, be the Moon?" Somehow surfacing above it are other nonspecific, mystic, psychokinetic forces, perhaps Gravity, the "extrasensory in Earth's mindbody," or more simply, just a sense of wonder. They are personified in Tyrone Slothrop, the central character, who is identified as some sort of receiver when first institutionalized in the Abreaction Ward of a London hospital - he's paranoid - and later tagged as the Rocketman and sent to the Zone where the later postwar action partially takes place. Around him are all sorts of others - scientists, behaviorists, friends (Tantivy who is killed; statistician Roger Mexico who remains trapped in the detritus of the War and is unfit for Peace) and assorted girls. It is reductive, perhaps presumptive, to say what this is all about - the "depolarizing" or neurotic instability which follows war; the metallic mechanization of life thereafter; the blacks and blackness; drugs and sex - a kind of vacant, performing sex; and a lot of catch-as-catch-can cabala all figure in Pynchon's sort of social surrealism. He has made no concessions: from the proliferation of acronyms (some very clever) to the hybrid referrals (King Kong, Murphy's Law, Godel's Theorem) tailgating each other in one paragraph; to the words (azimuth, megalo, runcible, terrenity) which are an "impedance." As of course is all this jammed input - a parlous challenge to the reader's perseverance. But then however much the latter may have been strained, one must pay tribute to Pynchon's plastic imagination, his stunning creative energy, and here and there the transcendent prose: "It was one of those great iron afternoons in London: the yellow sun being teased apart by a thousand chimneys breathing, fawning upward without shame" - all marvelously descriptive of the world in which we live and are sure to die. (Kirkus Reviews)