It's an odd book too - one of those pieces of literature where the skill and - well - genius of the writer blows one away as a reader; it's in many ways I think an example of what a postmodern novel is supposed to look like, cf. the irreverent tone, use of limericks, and above all the pig suit). At the same time some of the gender representations, especially towards the end, have raised a lot of eyebrows. I'd be interested to know what you make of it, Carolyn.
Just a note to say that I'm still busy with Gravity's Rainbow (although I've read a couple of things in between). It definitely is an "postmodern epic" (sic), exceeding 700 Kindle "pages"! I'm done with Part 1, though. And I'm still going to finish it, even though it is on this list by The Guardian of the 10 most difficult books to finish: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2012/nov/03/10-most-difficult-books-in-pictures#/?picture=398745270&index=8
The blogs on guardian.co.uk are quite fun, thanks Carolyn ... some are on the nose. Beckett's trilogy (though his short fiction's great). Infinite Jest. Finnegan's Wake (without a guide). etc.
Myns insiens it's worth keeping on at the Pynchon - well, except maybe for the kamikaze pilots thing at the end - along with V, about the only thing of his worth reading. It's like modernist art - should have revolutionized the world of perception, but didn't. And there are other pomo epics that reward the effort, I think - Gaddis' JR. DeLillo's Underworld. Vollmann's Argall. Maybe some Richard Powers (but not poor old Wallace's Infinite Jest ... no sirree. Yeee).
Oh, I'll definitely keep at it, Kelwyn. There are some wickedly funny bits that make it worth while ; ) And I can see how Pynchon was mirroring the alienation and fragmentation brought on by the war by alienating the reader to an extent with his fragmented narrative consisting of a myriad of sub-plots and characters in Part 1 of the book. Even the sentences in this part are made up of many subordinate clauses and fragmented by commas! But, I can see how it all adds to the work of literature. I'm busy with Part 2 now, where Slothrop is removed from the war and the narrative seems to "flow" more, so I'm making good progress : )
There're some dicey bits, as you'll see, Carolyn - but this has all made me think back to what's special about GR. Speaking personally 1) I'll never be able to look at pigs in the same light again ("but you can't go wrong with a pig, with a pig..."); 2) there's a game that Roger plays vs. Jessica towards the end, at a dinner party, which is well worth playing at dinner parties (that's if one doesn't mind losing friends); 3) before this I never knew that the limerick could be a source of serious literature; 4) and there's of course things like the Kirghiz Light, and the repeated refrain, 'An Army Of Lovers Can Be Beaten'; 5) and, of course, there's The Zone......
As I read further the present Booker finalist, 'Umbrella' by Will Self, seems more and more like it's making use consciously of Pynchon's example. Maybe I'm wrong. Such a pity: in parts quite stunning, both re the imagination and the use of language ...but over-long, over-clever. Charges that I suppose have been levelled at GR in its time...
Just done with Umbrella - a very flawed, at times brilliant book .... it gets better and easier to read, but it's a mission. A pity.
But Gaddis' JR is probably the toughest nut to crack - he has a tendency to write mainly in dialogue: typical style is that any character talking either changes whomever he/she is talking to, or else another character starts talking, in the middle of a paragraph without much indication. At best this is hilarious e.g. the school principal doubles as the town's real estate agent, and at one point he switches between talking on the phone in his one profession and talking to someone the other side of the desk in his other profession, back and forth, back and forth. Insane. Imo what's important about JR is that it's published in, and signals, the period (1970s) when money ceases to be real and becomes the idea of money instead. The eponymous hero is a little boy who plays the stock market using a pencil, a stool (he's too short) and a pay phone - he has not actual money, but he does very well.
Sorry, I seem to be going on.....some of these pomo epics myns insiens are worth the effort.
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