Gravity’s Rainbow

ISBN: 0140283382
ISBN 13: 9780140283389
By: Thomas Pynchon

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About this book

Winner of the 1974 National Book Award“A screaming comes across the sky. . .” A few months after the Germans’ secret V-2 rocket bombs begin falling on London, British Intelligence discovers that a map of the city pinpointing the sexual conquests of one Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop, U.S. Army, corresponds identically to a map showing the V-2 impact sites. The implications of this discovery will launch Slothrop on an amazing journey across war-torn Europe, fleeing an international cabal of military-industrial superpowers, in search of the mysterious Rocket 00000, through a wildly comic extravaganza that has been hailed in The New Republic as “the most profound and accomplished American novel since the end of World War II.”

Reader's Thoughts


I was looking forward to this book but as I turned the final page, despite the many things I’d liked about it, I was somewhat disappointed.First off the good: this is a hugely ambitious and in parts wildly entertaining march across war-torn and post-war Europe. Truly there is a great deal of joy to be had in watching Pynchon’s imagination unfold. It’s brilliantly written (some of the passages are like prose poetry) and frequently laugh-out loud funny. The characters are memorable and alive, the set pieces expertly handled and there are many images throughout which are large and thought provoking and will stay with me for a long time. What’s more, it comes close to creating a new and seemingly impossible form – the novel which is also a musical. Throughout there are lyrics and rhymes punctuating the action (indeed, often commentating on it) and the whole book has the loose feel of free-form jazz.There’s a lot to admire about ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’.However, because the focus changes between different characters and different locations (and sometimes different realities), it’s sometimes hard for the reader to keep up. The narrative’s constant digressions can be wonderfully entertaining, but they can also be fruitless and frustrating. I often felt that Pynchon was just heading off in a particular direction on a mere whim, and – as I’m sure I’ve stated before – the whimsical is not a quality I particularly like in a novel. Even though it is often entertaining and very funny, the reader sometimes has to tread through treacle to get to those moments. It’s frequently worthwhile when he or she arrives, but the trip can be quite plodding. As such this is a book I’m torn over. It entertained me a lot but at other points was a bloody chore (and ever since I stopped being a student, I don’t like feeling that I’m being forced to read something). If you have patience and like the comedy of the absurd, then I would definitely recommend it. If you’ve started it, then I would certainly say that it’s worthwhile persevering with. But this is fiction which requires a great deal of effort, and I can’t guarantee that all that effort will be fully rewarded.


When I was getting a PhD in English, I refused to read Pynchon because I thought the last thing the world needed was another book by a modernist author who trying to be more difficult than Joyce.Then I picked up Vineland out of a bargain bin, and realized it was probably the funniest thing I had ever read. I followed it with Gravity's Rainbow, which is even funnier. Pynchon is an incredible comic writer. In grad school, lots of people were scared of Gravity's Rainbow because of all the physics. There's no need; there's not that much physics. What helps, though, is an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II. This is really historical fiction, written through a very warped lens. I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II, and for months after reading the book, I'd run across odd bits of history that featured prominently: the V2 rockets were, in fact, built using a slave force of Herero tribesmen from South-West Africa (now Namibia). Like any paranoid fantasy, Gravity's Rainbow is built around concrete facts. But the paranoid fantasy is on a grander scale than anything I've read: there are circles within circles of control and manipulation, extending all the way from London to Heaven (or Hell; how would you know the difference?). It's a reinterpretation of World War II through the prism of Vietnam; and in 2009, as we start to unwind the militaristic fictions of the past eight years, that reinterpretation is as appropriate as it was in the 70s. But that's too heavy and serious for one of the 20th century's greatest comic novels. How can you dislike a book where the rockets are all phallic symbols, and you know that because the author tells you they are?

MJ Nicholls

I tried sixty-nine pages for the purposes of the Group Read (a Group Read of Gravity’s Rainbow on Goodreads—a GR of GR on GR, or GR3) but tentatively closed the novel thenceforth. My first thought (I am an intellectual) was WTF?! This has over twenty five-star ratings on the first page?! Then I had to concede I simply don’t like Pynchon’s writing style, period. William raised this point in his review of The Tunnel—you’re helpless against an author’s crystalline prose if you simply can’t stomach his particular talent for arranging squiggles. My problem with the first sixty-nine pages? I found his style awkwardly literary, stuffed with showboating passages of verbose insulation (as though caulking the enormous fucker)—I felt the style basically worked against the efficiency of the sentences, i.e. he seems to be taking unnecessarily circuitous routes to describe whatever acronym-riddled antics were happening (as far as I could make out, sub-Catch-22 shenanigans mixed with equally dated black humour) so the reader has to unpeel each little Pychonian prawn as though inside lies some twinkling epithet of significance. Also, the point of view shifts from the ice-cold third-person narrator to the internal states of the dozen or so interchangeable characters with equally stupid names for no particular reason I could fathom for those sixty-nine pages. I was impressed by various passages but I couldn’t commit to another 834 pages . . . there simply wasn’t enough cohering for me in the style, and books that warm up around page 467 are not my bag. I tried The Crying of Lot 49 earlier this year and found the dude such a postmodern relic. I mean, Foster Wallace can do this standing on his head but also offers a devastating emotional wallop into the bargain. William H. Gass writes funnier bawdy limericks and songs too. Anyway. I’m sure he’s brilliant but I really don’t care, I have other boyfriends.

Gabi Dopazo

Gravity’s Rainbow is finally over after months of starts, give-ups, re-starts, more give-ups and more re-starts. A book that I’ve hated probably more that I’ve loved. Still is a hard one to call. I have been suffering reading this book, I haven’t had much pleasure. It’s very dense, hard to follow, difficult to make sense of, and that goes for each paragraph. It’s been written by a lunatic, by a genius, by a man that probably wrote it in a state of semi-awareness, in trance… Some of it looks like automatic writing. It’s a book that will stay forever, although I’m not sure for the right reasons. After being done with it I feel very uncertain. The book generates questions rather than answers. Not sure if those questions are any good either. I find it very Buñuel, lots of different sequences, memories, places, different people, thoughts, feelings… there is speed and there is confusion and every now and then there is wonderful poetry but also boredom and tiredness. Small print, single spaced, 776 pages… you feel like you are totally wasting your time but you also get a feeling, deep inside, that somehow you aren’t. It’s hard to explain, very confusing. There is sex, drugs, liquid fuel, Impolex G, people that still dont know who they were supposed to represent, including the main guy... but was I supposed to know that, would it matter? The book is loaded with a great amount of plaster and glue. If you look carefully you might find between the lines several holy grails and weekends away for two


Advice for a first time reader of Gravity's Rainbow:Gravity's Rainbow is a book you either love or hate, and if you hate it it's probably because you couldn't finish the damn thing. Though by no means impenetrable, the novel is daunting enough to merit a list of tips for those wishing to tackle it for the first time. Below is my advice on how new readers can get over the hump. Trust me, it's a small hump, and the masterpiece that lies on the other side is worth the effort.1. Read V first ... Pynchon's V is shorter and more accessible than Gravity's Rainbow, but addresses the same themes in a similar style. If you enjoyed V, you will have built up a reserve of goodwill for Pynchon that will carry you through the initial rough patches of Gravity's Rainbow. This advice was given to me years ago, and I'm glad I took it.2. Accept that you won't understand everything...Don't be concerned if you can't follow the many digressions or keep track of every minor character that pops up. As with other famously difficult novels, Gravity's Rainbow's real payoff comes in the rereading, so you shouldn't feel obliged to linger over each passage until it makes sense. Pynchon isn't trying to lord it over you by writing a book this dense; it's just his way of giving you your money's worth. Just follow what you can the first time through, which fortunately is a lot.3. Accentuate the accessible...Gravity's Rainbow's unreadability is over-hyped. Yes, there are many jarring digressions, but threading through them is a fairly conventional detective story. Sure there are lyrical passages that take off for the stratosphere, but they are grace notes in a melody of otherwise breezy narrative prose. So on your first time through, it's enough to follow the main plot (will Slothrop find the mysterious Rocket 00000?) and enjoy Pynchon's jokes, which are laugh-out-loud funny.4. Don't give up too early...I don't want to say that Gravity's Rainbow gets off to a slow start, but it has a lot of scene-setting to do, and the engine that really drives the book along only gets revved up in part 2. Part 1 is a well-executed minor key portrait of wartime London, but part 2 is where the drugs kick in, so stick with the novel at least that far.


This might be my favorite novel. I read it over the course of around three months, on my fourth attempt, when I was living in Tallinn, Estonia. Something about residence in a very small European country heightens one's sense of the absurd. I would bring it to lunch at the bars where I dined and start crying into my club sandwich when the book was sad and laughing into my kebabs when it was funny (which is nearly always) and there are a lot of bartenders who probably thought I was crazy.The first rule of Gravity's Rainbow is you do not talk about Gravity's Rainbow. Just read it and don't worry about all the things you don't get. You could spend the rest of your life in graduate school of various sorts and not be as smart as Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, so don't sweat it.There are swaths of this book that I definitely don't get. Pointsman, the psychologist? Didn't get it. Tchitcherine? Didn't get him, as a character, didn't understand why he did what he did, almost ever. But hidden inside all the dross is literature of unparalleled terror and beauty: the chapter in the very middle of the book about Pokler and his daughter, which left me literally bawling in public, the only time I can think of I've ever done that. Oddly, the description of U-boat latrines. The dejected Slothrop wandering Germany in a pig suit. Pirate Prentice's romance. The overgrown adenoid that invades London. The dogs grown intelligent. The sad allusions to Webern's death. The notorious scat sequence that people get all worked up over. The Proverbs for Paranoids interspersed throughout ("You will not touch the Master, but you may tickle his creatures..."). Blicero's carnival of torture, better than anything Gonzalez could devise, and more honest, too.Gravity's Rainbow is a quick guide to all the ways you could have lived your life but did not; all the injustices you have not had to face; all the ridiculous theories of the afterlife you can't bear to accept. It teaches you how to read itself. It's been copied relentlessly, by Trainspotting and Kurt Cobain and reading it means there's a certain voice that will inhabit your brain forever. It's like going on Samhain vacation from reality with nothing but a crate of bananas and a load of S&M. Caveat emptor.




‘What is the real nature of control?’ From the first sentence of Pynchon’s National Book Award winning novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, the Reader is transplanted into a threatening world where death strikes first, the cause second. It is a world of frightening realism and comic absurdity, all fueled through drug induced hallucinations, paranoid ramblings, and psychological investigations that is not all that unlike our own reality once you remove yourself to view it from afar as if it were some painting in a gallery. This is the Zone, and Pynchon is your field guide through the wasteland of paranoids, preterits and pornographers. The novel is stylistically staggering and so carefully researched that the line between fact and fiction blurs and is not always easy to deduce. It is carefully plotted out with extreme precision, aligning the events with actual weather detail from the days played out and in keeping with a metaphoric representation of the zodiac signs through the passing months. While this novel can be demanding, it is also extremely rewarding for those who make it through this wild rocket ride of literature. A first time Reader should be cautioned that Part 1 of this mammoth text is exceedingly difficult. Pynchon seemingly takes great joy in pummeling the Reader with a labyrinthine structure of characters and plot lines, each accruing through dramatic left turns in the narrative. The effect is pure disorientation, obfuscation and outright frustration. It feels just like spinning plates. It is, in a sense, Pynchon’s boot camp for the real war awaiting across minefields of prose; it is where he must break you down and reconstruct you as he sees fit. While the Reader must keep their head down and gut through, soaking up as much of the swirling stories as they can, Pynchon lays out the groundwork for the larger themes to come. Many of the ideas expressed early on won’t seem particularly meaningful, but by the end of the novel the Reader will realize it was all right there in their faces from the start. As characters will come and go like ghosts, with only minimal dimension and reference to them, the Reader will begin to realize that the coming tribulations are not there for the growth of the characters, but for the Reader themselves. The Reader must come out the other side changed in order for the novel to be a success. They must let go of their notions of story and plot, for Pynchon views even the smallest plot structure as comfort, they must let go, give in, and submit to Pynchon. He demands it, and he will fire off heady diatribes against your intellect with philosophy, theology, conspiracies and actual rocket science. The novel takes off running once the gun sounds the start of Part 2 when, dropped from foggy London town, the Reader finds themselves in the Zone. Early on is a discussion of Pointsman and Mexico, Pointsman being crafted as the ultimate embodiment of Pavlov’s cause-and-effect conditioning and Mexico being considered as ‘the Antipointsman’.’The young statistician is devoted to number and method, not table-rapping or wishful thinking. But in the domain of zero to one, not-something to something. Pointsman can only possess the zero and the one. He cannot, like Mexico, survive anyplace in between…. to Mexico belongs the domain between zero and one – the middle Pointsman has excluded from his persuasion – the probabilities.’Much of this novel deals with these two major perspectives. Pynchon often establishes structure, the Pointsman method, merely to deconstruct it and show the faults that lie within. By showing two specific points, in this instance excluding those inbetween points, Pynchon is able to demonstrate moments of symmetry, which he will then reverse. Normally a rocket would be heard before it explodes in a ball of death, but with the V2, now we have the death before sound (reversals also play a large key to the novel, from the countdown before a launch, to hypnotic imagery of English explorers sailing backwards to home). These two specific points are also expressed as binary differences, such as black and white, life and death, good and evil, preterition and the chosen few. These binaries are clear-cut sides, direct opposites of forces in keeping with the theory of entropy which rules the novel, sides that we clamor to reach in order to have a firm ground to stand on and a cut-and-dry vision of who is friend and who is foe. But Mexico, and Pynchon, rejects these binaries. Mexico acknowledges the space between zero and one, which is a wild, lawless no-man’s land (recall the McCarthy-esk western vision of Slothrops where there is one of everything – a endlessly compounding ‘one’ that creates an asymptote never actually reaching 1) where everything and anything is possible. It is a place more dream than reality, and the hallucinogenic nature of Pynchon’s spiraling prose and plots do well to express the ambiguities inherent in such a Zone. However, the novel never fully subscribes to one theory and can be interpreted as a cautionary tale for those who wander into this territory. Plot, laws and binaries are structures that keep our minds at ease and provide comfort and safety, so when we enter into the infinite freedom of the decimal we open ourselves to forces that may scatter us, kill us, and rub us out into oblivion. Pynchon himself will try to scatter and thwart the Reader in consequence of stepping into his Zone. He acknowledges you are in his territory, and will speak as he chooses, often with what seems an intention of belittling your own intelligence. He only occasionally makes concessions to the reader when he realizes at least a slight bridge must be made in setting a scene such as saying ‘you will want cause and effect. All right’, which, considering the rejection of such an idea in this novel, serves to mock the reader for scrambling to grasp the reassuring ledge of the pool in this deep end he has thrown us. To swallow this novel on a first read, a reader must attack it somewhat like middle school mathematical story problems – find the important information in the bloated paragraph, divide and conquer. There is a plethora of information to choose from as he will offer a vast variety of the same symbols and metaphors (the S, for example, shows up as the SS, the shape of the bomb factory tunnels, people spooning, the symbol for entropy, etc. There is a death/life metaphor on practically every page) Yet, Pynchon seems hell-bent on keeping you on your toes and disoriented. He will allow the Reader to slide into a groove of strong forward velocity, and then deliver a scene so grotesquely funny or vilely disgusting to shock the readers mind and scatter their thoughts and perceptions from decoding this vast network of ideas and then tries to evade us in a web of looping plots, obtuse anecdotes and countless characters (some of which come and go with hundreds of pages between mention). The maze of a plot that must be navigated is acknowledged as being similar to the course of events Slothrop encounters on the way, which he compares to the MBTA: ‘by riding each branch the proper distance, knowing when to transfer, keeping some state of minimum grace though it might often look like he’s headed the wrong way, this network of all plots may yet carry him to freedom.’ There must be a sense of trust that eventually, if you keep gutting through, there will be a conclusion to satisfy a journey of such magnitude. There is a constant paranoia overwhelming each printed word, a paranoia that the Reader must assimilate by proxy in order to fully appreciate the madness at hand. Yet paranoia itself must be a sort of comfort as well. While there is a fear of the Invisible Hand at play, pushing us through psychological nods in the right way, it is still a comfort that we are part of Their greater plan. For the preterits, this They is the only sense of God they will ever feel, as they are looked over by God himself. This whole novel is the interaction of such Preterits, from the fetishists to the colony of escaped concentration camp members, and the Reader must become a member of these second sheep as they must lose their selves along with Slothrop. The Reader is dragged through the mud and muck of a smattering of various theories, and to keep their sanity, they attempt to assign meaning to these elusive threads flashing about them in order to keep going. But perhaps this is just what Pynchon wants us to do, assigning Him the role of the They, and the Reader will begin to feel paranoid that this is all in jest, that Pynchon is simply pulling the world over their eyes and will begin to question even their own powers of deduction. We have learned that all that is comforting must be released (not yet knowing at these points in the novel that there is only a void awaiting with total freedom), and even the paranoid ponderings are only a comfort for us in Pynchon’s world. If there is something comforting – religious, if you want, about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long. Well right now, Slothrop feels himself sliding onto the anti-paranoid part of his cycle, feels the whole city around him going back roofless, vulnerable, uncentered as he is, and only pasteboard images now of the Listening Enemy left between him and the wet sky’ First, note the reversals in this, then swoon at the powerful prose in the second half. Now, assign meaning to this quote – but Slap, no! – Pynchon says there is no meaning. But then feel yourself become transparent and weightless, fading into oblivion with no reference to the world around you. This is the ultimate dilemma we are faced with in the Zone. It is no surprise the Reader is made to feel so paranoid in a novel rife with corporate conspiracy, much of which is highly researched and forms an impressive historical fiction aspect to this novel. If those rambling through the Zone are the preterits moved by the They, than these corporations are one of the highest tangible link to They we can see. They decide who lives and dies, who is rich and who is denied wealth, what we want to consume and how (‘consumers need to feel a sense of sin’) and exist in a realm where the War is simply a shuffling of power. ‘This war was never political at all, the politics was all theater, all just to keep the people distracted…secretly it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology….by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques’. Throughout the course of Gravity’s Rainbow, we have endless looks into mans thirst for technology, which in itself is a thirst for death based on the nature of the technology, even when it is also a life-giving force such as is the case of Pokler who had no life until the Rocket, and how this goes beyond the War itself. Even the White Visitation simply uses the War as a reason for more funding. Mans role in technology is at the heart of every idea in this book. Entropy is a measuring stick which this novel employs (in a book that sets out to dissolve all rules, having a rule that is upheld highlights its importance), and all events and ideas serve to counterbalance each other in keeping with the conservation of energy with the preterits being the heat burned off. As a quick aside, if I may, many of these preterits, Mexico and Jessica’s romance or the concentration camp members (‘their liberation was a banishment’) for example, are directly tied to the war and a become casualty of peace – the budding romance (there are some tearjerker lines, Pynchon really shows his soft side with them) being the ‘waste heat’ in a chemical reaction. They Rockets, being the focal point of the book, are both life and death images as well as phallic metaphors while many of the phalluses are rocket metaphors. Film plays another large role, with much of the book containing constant allusion to pop culture similar to a Quentin Tarantino film, and Der Springer believes he can reshape reality through film. This struggle of life and death is something that must be embraced as two parts of a whole in this novel, much like man and machine become one with Gottfried and the 00000 Rocket. Life and death are found strung together all throughout the novel, yet, as critic Harold Bloom points out in his essays on Rainbow, in Pynchon's book so focused on the idea of Death, the Reader never actually experiences or witnesses one - not one in all of the 800 pages. Many deaths are spoken of, some ambiguous like Tantivity’s, and others referred to plainly such as Pudding’s (note that ‘shit’ is spoken of as a metaphor for death, ‘shit is the presence of death’, and he is made to ingest it during – for him, not us – a sexual peak as another way life and death bind together in the novel), but the camera of the prose, if you will, always cuts right before the Reader must be an active participant in the death. Like Gottfried again, we know he dies, but because the com-link is only one way, we never can know the precise moment. Even Peter’s clubbing to the head cuts before the club can land. In this way, the novel is shown actually as a celebration of life, all the moments moving from 1:life to 0:death but never getting to the zero. We are forever in the Zone, for better or for worse. But with the final words of the novel, nay, the final two words, he pulls us from oblivion back to the whole. We escape death by existing in the moments between 1 and 0, and, ironically, in a book bent on annihilating structure and group alignment, he calls us all back into one large group: humanity.Gravity’s Rainbow is a massive novel that takes quite a bit of decoding and deboning in order to devour. But this is precisely what Pynchon wants and requires of us. This is a book that more or less requires a second reading just to grasp all that it has to say, the first is just a test of survival. The agglomeration of ideas are too much to chew and savor on one trip, and there is so much ambiguity present that, like Joyce’s Ulysses, he intends to scholars to dissect and analyze this novel for years and years to come. In the novel, the Zone members gather to become Kabbalists of the Rocket, ‘to be scholar-magicians of the Zone, with somewhere in it a Text, to be picked to pieces, annotated, explicated, and masturbated till it’s all squeezed limp of its last drop’. This book is Pynchon’s Rocket, ‘our Torah…our darkness’, which he cast forth into the 1970’s literary scene as a harbinger of destruction to all preconceived notions of literature. Pynchon in this way is not all that unlike the Rocket launchers, hidden far away out of sight in his reclusiveness, avoiding photographic surveillance, sending his Rocket into a brave new world. We, the Readers, are Gottfried strapped inside with ‘fire beneath our feet’ as Pynchon, as Blicero, hurls us forth into the irreversible future.Now everybody-00001/00001'Each bird has his branch now, and each one is the Zone' roll creditsI would also HIGHLY recommend the A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel to any readers of this novel. It was a huge help, especially with the pop culture allusions. Just be wary that it does occasionally give away plot elements and devices, sometimes long before they appear in the novel, and will practically double your time reading the actual book because there is so much information.Also, I have to thank Stephen M's wonderful group read for inspiring me to read the book, while doubling as a support group to get us all through this tome! The discussions and links there are extremely helpful and insightful.Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to direct you to the amazing reviews of my reading buddies on this strange ride, Steve, Ian, Jenn, Mark,Shan, Sean, Paquita, and many more to come!

Edward Kelly

Gravity's Rainbow is first and foremost funny. I cannot imagine speaking about any of Pynchon's fiction and not laughing. Somehow he is always talked about in such a serious tone. If you are not laughing at the bawdy humor, the slapstick, and the corny...If you are not laughing giddily at the way the stories connect inside the novel as well as to the historical context outside the novel...If you do not like send ups...If you cringe at gallows humor and sexual perversity...If your mind doesn't crave the complexity of an encyclopedic novel...If absurdity does not bring you closer to a primordial truth that incites laughter at man's history... Yes there is a plot. You may not find it but it is there. I would not read this book if you are struggling mightily with it. Do not believe people who say how hard, difficult, and painful it was, that they really didn't get most of it but "it was worth it". There are a ton of references and the book is more fun if you actually are able to tie in a bunch of the metaphors, references, historical contexts and character appearences and disapperences. I cannot imagine the point of reading the book if you couldn't, what a bore it must be. I think it is insulting that so many people believe that it is taboo to even talk about the book as a story,-a wildl, f-ing funny story at that. Yes some of us read Pynchon for enjoyment, not because it makes us stronger or better or fuller. (Pudding anyone?) I read Pynchon for the plot. I remember the small passages on pg.29 that are tied back in on pg500 without having to consult a third text. I delight in the connections and how often they break open the plot or a bigger meaning. I certainly miss some but I get a ton.(Can you plot out GR according to the Londen Times in 1944-45 and the Christian Advent season? Yes. But do you have to know this to figure out what Pynchon is up to? No.I wouldn't even bother, it will not get you closer to understanding. He sprinkles the novel with references that can bring you there if you are capable.) If I didn't I would give this book away. Pynchon pretty much debunks the Super Pynchon Theory in the introduction to Slow Learner. He talks about people's perception of him as being a brilliant mind who knows a ton about the subjects he riffs on. He admits that his knowledge of entropy(a major metaphorical theme for him)amounts to a typical dictionary definition entry.( not ot say that he is not extrordinarily well-read but don't be surprised if he doesn't know that much about Middle Dutch poetry but instead knows it in a more referential manner just as you do) Of course, his brilliance is his ability to take an idea and run it through his own mind, to say something about man, history and the nature of maening. And this is the kind of reader he is after. If when you read passages you find that his reference has sent you off thinking on your own and you realize you keep reading the same paragraph over and over transfixed by its briliance while each time it sparks a new tangent of thought until finally you wake up and feel that you have just flown around the globe...If you read GR and feel that you need to talk about Pynchon in a half-apologetic, fully-reverential tone instead of laughing at the Hansel and Gretel in the oven of an SS officer then you really did not get it and should try again with a a little more levity. Perhaps you can borrow Gottfried's wedding dress to wear while you read it.If you read GR and feel that it was devoid of a plot and was not chock full of brilliant observation on the plight of man/history, our encounters with meaning and many other metaphysical questions then the overall complexity of the structure went over your head and you should not try again.If you read it and hated the pace and style of the prose then well, you are probably right.

Marc Kozak

I've been putting off reviewing this forever, because it's my all-time favorite book. I feel like trying to explain books and music that you love is like trying to review yourself as a person. I mean, I wouldn't rate myself 5 stars (maybe like 3, which I guess means I value myself the same as Life of Pi apparently), but think about your own favorite book and how you would describe it to random people on the internet, and hopefully you understand what I mean. This book contains what I believe to be two of the Greatest Scenes in All of Literature (That I Have Read Anyway)(So Far). They are not only jaw-droppingly brilliant, but also perfect mini-capsules that serve to sum up the greater work as a whole, touching on all the big themes:-The story of the German engineer Pökler and his "daughter(s)", which for some reason makes me an emotional and nervous wreck every time I read it (which has been several times); and-Byron the Bulb, which I have immortalized with this shitty MS Paint drawing for absolutely no reason at all:I love this book because I just do. I have an idiotic fantasy where I meet a woman reading this somewhere and I approach her and start to excitedly babble on about it and she either sprays me with mace or we get married.This review is not helpful.


i will put the review i wrote of this after reading it, that has been lying unused in my journal since then, in here, when i'm not supposed to be working out. and here it is!!!!! i just got back from running, ha ha... perfect... this is dated summer 2004:"As a reborn lover of books, there has been an ongoing rediscovery of "literature" and it's implications in my life recently. A precocious student early-on, I was hungry for knowledge and read everything I could get my hands on. I have read the high-school caonon of novels and stories--sought out Fitzgerald at Kafka at the age of 12 and wowed English teachers with my deconstructions of the Bronte's and Joyce. However, although subculture was present in other aspects of my life-most notably music-for some reason I found it difficult find the intersection where the past met the future of writing. Enter Infinite Jest. I began noticing it, massive and orange, on the shelves of friends who I looked up to most. Upon research, I discovered D.F. Wallace to be the reigning "kid genius" of popular fiction and also that none of my acquaintances had finished the book. So, I decided to finish it. It was a dizzying novel-spectacular in its breadth-highly entertaining at times and sometimes just as intensely boring. But I got through it. And I was hungry for more. A co-worker of mine told me if I wanted another big, challenging book, I should read Gravity's Rainbow. I was somewhat familiar with Pynchon at this point because of The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland, and some short stories. I understood him to be a man who enjoyed confusing readers who might not be engaged enough. He enjoyed complex plots and mystifying explanations. He enjoyed the underworld and silliness. He created the unending probability of the certain impossible actually happening and absurdly named characters who actually expected it. In The Crying of Lot 49 as well as, say, Infinite Jest, I had encountered in various passages a cockiness I was wary of. It consisted of a self-awareness with a kinship to the purposeful zaniness of things but left something lacking. I was struck by this decorative zaniness because it bore not real significance on the plot or inherent mood of the story. So far, none of Pynchon's nonsense songs had worked their magic on me. In David Foster Wallace, I forgave it by the end of the book because all of the pieces ended up fitting together, and anyone who even slightly enjoys post-modernism likes to be fucked with. That's what entertainment is all about. Still, a few months later, I wonder how much of Infinite Jest I have forgotten and whether it really matters. Do I really need to know about the extensive catalogue of tattoos of the halfway-house inmates?For the first time, with Gravity's Rainbow, I was thoroughly delighted by these little games. More importantly, I feel that they served as a foundation for the gorgeously dark, terrifying, and whimsical world that Pynchon's characters inhabit. The book revolves around the misadventures of Tyrone Slothrop, a United States soldier in England at the end of WWII. Inexplicably, and presumably because of a connection between his amorous conquests and the pattern of bombs falling on London, he is kidnapped and his identity is erased. He spends the remainder of the novel trying to solve the mystery of the rocket that he is connected to and searching for his freedom. He encounters spies, merchants, warriors, and magicians as he wanders the wastes of post-war Europe through the spring of 1945. This book, to me, was all about identity. Slothrop's identity is stolen and becomes a commodity and a legend. He is inextricably connected to the tests that programmed him to interact in the way that he does with the opposite sex and, therefore, the war. The book, though whimsical, is a tragedy. Slothrop disappears in the end-unable to assert himself over the machine that has made him who he is. Of course this is a novel only-a fake conspiracy theory for the enjoyment of the authro and readers. But to me it rang true because I often question how big of a role the individual does have in society, war-torn or not. It is easy to feel a certain joyful emptiness when I am surrounded by strangers on a subway train hurling through the dark. There is another less joyful loss of identity I feel upon financial problems, or dealing with red tape of any kind for that matter. This is more of a feeling of dread of the future being nothing but owing something to someone else, of being a number, of not having a voice or face because I am less powerful than most people. I would like to hope that power is something that doesn't overlook the intelligent or self-motivated, and that each person has the right to self-determination. Slothrop, though, didn't. Or rather, his rights changed so much that the only option for him to remain in control of himself was to disappear completely. Is a man really a man without an audience? Once he falls off the face of the earth, goes into the wild, does nothing of "importance", does he exist or is he just another animal? This is assuming that man and animal are separate to begin with, an assumption I choose to make. Men left on desert islands have told their stories, but what if Robinson Crusoe hadn't refound civilization?It is a simple thing to think about. Really, the story of Slothrop is the story of anyone. We humans tend to bumble through our lives, sometimes blandly and innocently unaware that anything is wrong, other times struggling to piece things together. However, I feel that this book affected me so much because the lush cacophany that Pynchon surrounds Slothrop with is none of the tried-on wackiness of other post-modern fiction but rather a symbolic representation of the world as it is. I do not expect to be fighting Pavlovian octopi or sneaking around parties disguised as a pig any time in the near future, but the fact that Slothrop did shows that each human is up against the same odds. In one way this tale is all about the excesses and frivolities of a world where people have enough money or corruption to manipulate the lives of other mortals. In another sense it is about the indiviual as the person inside the body: the unexplained journey and then the disappearance at the end. For the purposes of the story slothrop may have died when he vanished, but it doesn't really matter. In giving up navigation of the powers that be, we will also die. The story will end. It may seem natural, but it is really a choice to fight, to disguise oneself, to not stop. Pynchon succeeded in telling the story of the individual without sacrificing the absurdity that marks the vagueness of what being a human actually is. Fitzgerald may have told me, when I was 12, that we don't get what we want (and I believed for a long time after that, that tragedy was the most I could hope for in my own narrative... at least it would be interesting). I had been trying to suppress any goofiness for so long and had been looking for the remote picturesquenss of melancholy in such a way that, when I encountered the wildness of Gravity's Rainbow, I rejoiced. I saw that in art and life the unexplainable, the low, the poor and destitute and directionless,the empty ones with looming dark futures are most likely to win, or stay on the map at least, if they succumb to the amazing and question-filled moments, as Slothrop would, to a party of strangers where someone might have the answer.

Aidan Watson-Morris

playing a prominent role in virtually every article on 'difficult' literature, pynchon's cult status has elevated this excellent novel to a divisive modern classic, & while pynchon's political passion & perfect panoramic prose produce potent products, don't be intimidated by those touting this as the dense, impenetrable successor to joyce on either side of the a rainbow, this covers the full spectrum--you're not gonna be able to sort out every little detail (especially if you have this, the penguin deluxe edition, which fuck you penguin), but the moments of lucidity, & the overall result, are almost paralyzing beautiful. its ambition & artistic vision are staggering, but it doesn't sacrifice the human element at the core of any great work of art (or most, i guess).this doesn't mean pynchon takes himself too seriously, mind you; part of why this book is so divisive is precisely because he's having so much fun with things, & because his (com)passion so often translates into transgression. it's as much an encyclopedia of the ridiculous as it is an entry into the pantheon of great literature.have faith in yourself as a reader, & this will be just as fun to read as it is intelligent. by the end, you may find it'll have all come together as something much, much more.explanatory note so the comment section remains coherent: originally here was a placeholder non-review in which i talked about my obsession with book cover design & showed some of the more rare covers for this beauty. most of the ones i showed can be found in the flavorwire link in the comment section.


I think reading and reviewing this book requires taking on some extra baggage because it...well, I don't actually need to explain why or else Gravity’s Rainbow wouldn't have this baggage in the first place. It's Gravity's Rainbow, and that makes me feel like I need to read it, preferably without thinking too much about why exactly I feel this way. But at the same time I feel like I should avoid it so I don't look like a damn hairdo, which I'm told is British slang for someone who “tries too hard” (to look cool, hip, intellectual, etc). Anyway, I decided that the draws of the former outweighed the risks of the latter, and I read it. But first I had to be mentally prepared. Because unless you possess a level of genius utterly alien to me, approaching this book requires that you take a moment to assess your reading goals. Specifically, you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions about the ways in which you are capable of deriving pleasure. The whole idea of a pleasurable reading experience is so subjectively malleable as to be rendered almost meaningless. For some, pleasurable means sticking to a plot structure, character ensemble, and prose style that's well within one's own capabilities, while also being offered thrills that lie on a primarily primitive and visceral level. For some it means making your brain sweat, drawing a little blood, grasping outside of your intellectual reach, and building up some serious (but less overt) tension to provide for powerful releases and enduring satisfactions. And for most of us, it usually means doing a little (or a lot) of both, occasionally in the same novel, depending on x number of mitigating factors in our non-reading lives. Sometimes we want to push ourselves and sometimes we just want to casually, facilely enjoy ourselves. At the moment, I'm at a place in my reading life where it seems like the more I give in blood, tears, and neuronal overheating, the more pleasure I'm capable of deriving from literature (assuming all this work is actually worth it on the other end). Now I know a passing personal fad when I see one, and even if certain not-too-far-off responsibilities weren't looming, I don't think I could find the energy, desire, time, heart, balls, chutzpah, whatever to continue tackling books like this for any extended period of time. So I'm trying to harness the obsession that's currently ruling my free time and put that cruel Blicero-esque master to work. So anyway, despite the baggage, I went into reading this with pretty realistic and tempered expectations. I recently read Pynchon’s startlingly mediocre early short stories and was also beginning to question my initial infatuation with The Crying of Lot 49. In truth, I was hoping I wouldn't love it too much or hate it (I more or less succeeded here). Reasons: I didn’t like the idea of being a full-on contrarian with claims of overwrought suckiness (while making sure to prove in my review that this opinion wasn't due to blatant comprehension inabilities), but I also couldn't make this a gushing splooge-fest for reasons nicely summed up by Goodreads Jessica: "Guys who are really into GR are like those overly-earnest guys who're way too into Tom Waits. It's this weird, jealous, intense kind of passion that can seem pretty incongruous with its object, and can make you (or me, anyway) not want to participate in this creepy cultishness." Now, simply admitting that I was concerned about all of this is likely betraying a repulsive and frightening narcissism that this website seems intent on drawing out. Yes, Goodreads is messing with me…and reading a long book about paranoia sure doesn’t help. Another general issue Gravity’s Rainbow has me mulling over is: how legitimate is it to construct a book that includes hundreds of allusions the vast majority of well-read, well-educated people will be unable to grasp without a serious study of the text and outside sources? To be honest, I'm not really sure where that line is, if there even is one, or if (assuming it's there) Pynchon crossed it. Thankfully, grasping all (or even most) of the allusions doesn't appear to be necessary to enjoy the hell out of the book and have a good idea of what's transpiring. And for this reason, I'm leaning toward a belief that Pynchon did not cross the line (if it exists). For what's better than a book you can enjoy the first time through and perhaps even more (or better yet, for new and different reasons) on subsequent reads? Initially, the difficulty of reading Gravity’s Rainbow centers on the disorienting nature of character and plot introductions, as Pynchon places you into scenes and conversations with no instructions or compass. After the first section, this disorientation (almost certainly intentional) starts to melt away, but I can imagine that most aborted reading attempts justifiably occur long before the 200 page mark. More than with any other book I've read, this one appears to have been designed for rereading. I know authors and critics throw this concept around quite a bit, with many people claiming, like Nabokov, that reading only begins with rereading. Ah, to have the luxury. But in this case, I think it's true. If I were to go back to the beginning armed with a solid grasp of the convoluted characters and plot, I'd think I'd be able to piece together aspects to which I was nakedly subjected the first time around. Pynchon's ability to create an evocative setting with an infectious mood is pretty amazing. The decimated 1945 London he cooks up is mesmerizing and provides the perfect backdrop for Roger and Jessica’s passionate, doomed love affair. He flawlessly balances feelings of reality and bizarreness here and there’s also this great just-at-the-edges-of-my-mind-but-out-of-reach-familiarity thing going on. Kind of like when you get nostalgia for something you've never experienced (but have studied or heard about or whatever). These were the things that kept me plowing through the early stages of the book. Well, in addition to all of the references (6!) to my favorite actor, Cary Grant, who’s even impeccably impersonated by Slothrop via Pynchon’s perfectly placed commas. The first section is both the easiest and hardest to navigate. Pynchon seems intent on having the readers experience the dislocation of the characters, many of whom don’t really understand the whats or whys of the situations in which they find themselves. At the beginning of a book, I expect to be a little lost when dealing with the many character introductions, new setting, etc., so this is easier to take. Later on, when we move away from major characters for the umpteenth time to meet someone new and tangentially-related, this can be a little more taxing. I’m used to having information in a novel presented in certain ways, even in the most unconventional books I’ve read, but Pynchon seems hell-bent on blazing his own narrative path. One early 20-page stretch delivered the wildest emotional rollercoaster ride I’ve ever experienced in fiction: first I was thoroughly disturbed by the S&M re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, then moved by the lushness and sorrow of the dodo slaughtering, and finally laughing hysterically (on the T, embarrassing) during the “Disgusting English Candy Drill”, in which Slothrop is subjected to various horrible British ‘candies’ by a little old lady. Seriously, the dodo-bird scene is one of the greatest pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered and it also sets up one of GR’s major themes: the Elect vs. the Preterite, a concept which surfaces throughout the book to signify the powerful vs. the powerless; those ‘passed over’ vs. those killed in war; the Man vs. the Counterforce; et al. Strangely, I am unsure whether this book itself is Elect or Preterite—was Modern Library right to exclude it from top 100 books of 20th century? Or is the quote from The New Republic on the back cover correct? The most profound and accomplished American novel since the end of World War II. This question of what is lasting and remembered literature, hinted at with subtle brilliance in 2666, is something I find fascinating. One practice that sets Pynchon apart from other writers is his incorporation of metaphors from nearly every branch of science—often very difficult ones (referring here to metaphors and branches of science). Since he doesn’t do much in the way of explaining, this can be a significant source of frustration. But it allows us science geeks to finally justify the hours spent studying organic chemistry. Actually, justify is much too strong a word. But I really enjoyed seeing Tchitcherine’s penchant for attracting counterrevolutionaries described in terms of molecular bonding capability, or seeing Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle used to describe the relationship between analgesia and addiction. Only from Thomas Ruggles Pynchon. I was also delighted, to my surprise, by much of the postmodern winking—from the few but potent direct addresses to “you” (the reader), to a discussion of difficult avant-gardism vs. pleasing simplicity that, although couched in a musical argument, was undoubtedly a direct commentary on the merits of Gravity’s Rainbow. Pynchon also can’t help himself from summarizing and distilling GR within other stories, such as that of Byron the immortal light bulb (whose experiences mirror Slothrop’s) and the plot to a drug-induced film entitled “Doper’s Greed”. There are probably many more commentaries on the book that I have either missed or forgotten—another rereading bonus, I’d bet. Perhaps most effectively, Pynchon plays around with the concepts of Pavlovian stimuli, and he relishes eliciting responses (especially sexual arousal) that will inevitably be accompanied by ethical unease, disgust, or shame. This writer-to-reader flirtation with the “ultraparadoxical phase”, wherein positive stimuli become inhibitory and vice versa, is one of the most brilliant aspects of the book. Before tackling GR, one of my main concerns about Pynchon was what I perceived to be a lack of personal human insights to balance all the other stuff—philosophical and scientific allusions, gorgeous prose, compelling metaphysics…basically everything else I need or want in a book. Gravity’s Rainbow does deliver some of this, most prominently with the Pökler storyline, but these truly human and revealing moments are rather few and far between. For me, this is where the one star deduction comes in. Telling us many times that Slothrop was sad to lose Tantivy or Katje isn’t the same thing as making us feel it. Isn’t that writing 101? I have no doubt that Pynchon can (and occasionally does) aim for character insight and evocation, but for whatever reason he frequently chooses not to. Our loss. Still, I’ve developed a bit of a Pynchon addiction and it's weird because the buzz isn't that great, but I compulsively take another hit anyway. Actually, let me rephrase that—the buzz is occasionally fantastic but usually short-lived, and frequently the let down/hangover is rather rough and nauseating. But outside of my favorite Modernists, I've never read anyone who can zing me quite the way he does on occasion. While technically the ending presents us with the ultimate climax, the last bit of the book felt appropriately anti-climactic. In the final 100 pages or so, Slothrop starts to disappear (literally?) and the “plot” sort of peters out after reaching a high point of coherence and intrigue part way through the 3rd section, which also contains some of the craziest shit I’ve ever read. Indeed, Gravity’s Rainbow makes Infinite Jest and 2666, to compare it to other postmodern monsters on which it had no small amount of influence, look conventional by comparison. How can we be expected to piece it all together? One of the least sympathetic characters in the book, Pointsman, is obsessed with Pavlovian cause-and-effect and therefore is searching for something that the more likeable stand-in Roger Mexico rejects in his analysis of events that he determines to be pattern-less and Poisson-distributed. Extrapolating from this, is Pynchon suggesting that we shouldn’t try to make too much sense out of this entropic book, which may simply be filled with random happenings rather than any connected or logical series of events? Or is that just a red herring, a false trail to divert us from some greater meaning?


An Approach for Simulating Text Consistent With Gravity’s Rainbow Technical Report issued 6 July 2012 by the Simulation Lab Originating Text-based Handiwork (SLOTH) While the exact algorithm used by Pynchon (1973) to produce Gravity’s Rainbow (henceforth GR) was never documented, we contend that the method proposed in this paper is, on average, in a repeated sampling context, observationally equivalent. As is true of any simulation, there is a deterministic component and a random component. Simulated paths will vary, but the statistical distributions from which the stochastic terms are sampled match those of GR. Our approach, as applied to text generation, is novel¹. It is, however, closely related to the methods employed by computer scientists in the so-called Markovian Mozart initiative². We begin by describing the basic structure, we then discuss our vision of the text generation process as it applies to GR, and conclude with final thoughts on how text simulation may be used going forward.Simulation StructuringInterest in random text generation appears to have begun with the famous, though untested, proposition that an infinite number of monkeys with infinite time at their keyboards would ultimately reproduce Shakespeare. Of course, pure randomness without some kind of structure is a highly inefficient path toward literary art. Plus, the process is just as likely to produce piggy porn as it is to emulate Pynchon (granting, for our purposes, that there is a distinction to be made). The opposite side of the spectrum would be a well-defined set of sentences featuring blanks to fill in using a pre-chosen set of options. This was a style popularized by Mad Magazine³. Such an approach differs from ours in that their structure is more narrowly defined, allowing insufficient latitude to characterize the chaotic and disorienting nature of GR.The input parameters to our simulation will, by default, result in 4 sections, 73 chapters, over 400 characters (mostly minor, wordplayfully named), and 776 pages, just as the original did. However, one of the advantages of a simulator is that the resulting length is configurable. We are also careful to specify stylistic breakdowns that may enter in a probabilistically identical way. The sampling ranges extend from ridiculous to sublime in one dimension and vulgar to sublime in another. By applying noise terms to the narrative, comprehension will vary throughout.Text Generating ProcessThe backbone of our simulation structure is established in the initial step. We specify a superset of core influences which are drawn upon by the random text extractor in accordance with user-supplied probability weights. This superset, A, is defined byA ⊂ (WWII Historical Almanac, V-2 Rocket Technical Manual, Pavlovian Psychology [loaded in backwards], German-English Dictionary, Freud’s Comprehensive List of Phallic Symbols, phrasebooks for various romance languages, Anthology of Daft ‘n’ Bawdy Poetry, Urban Thesaurus [1945 edition], Guidebook to Pharmacology, Introduction to Tarot Symbolism, Applications in Multivariate Calculus and Differential Equations, a short book of surprisingly tender love stories, a longer book of genuinely raunchy lust stories, and an assortment of engineering textbooks)Text drawn probabilistically from A serves as our starting point, S1. The next step is to intersperse small elements of plot into S1 with insertion points determined by a Poisson distribution. Specifyf(k, λ) = λ^k ⋅ exp(-λ) / k!where k is the number of insertion points for each sub-block of S1, ! denotes factorial, and λ is the mean inclusion rate (λ > 0, but not by much)The storyline to be parsed and inserted as indicated above is presented (by us and by Pynchon) in skeletal form. The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature sums it up well⁴. The sprawling narrative comprises numerous threads having to do either directly or tangentially with the secret development and deployment of a rocket by the Nazis near the end of World War II. Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop is an American working for Allied Intelligence in London. Agents of the Firm, a clandestine military organization, are investigating an apparent connection between Slothrop's erections and the targeting of incoming V-2 rockets. As a child, Slothrop was the subject of experiments conducted by a Harvard professor who is now a Nazi rocket scientist. Slothrop's quest for the truth behind these implications leads him on a nightmarish journey of either historic discovery or profound paranoia, depending on his own and the reader's interpretation.As a work in the postmodernist tradition, nonlinearity must be actuated. At no point may the plot as a function of time (P[t]) be twice differentiable, and only rarely may it be first-order differentiable. Flashbacks, digressions, and various other discontinuities must be introduced as P[t] is inserted into S1. In a related way, causal orderings must be distorted for a more authentic Pynchonian narrative. Specify Cause ⇔ Effect +/- δtwhere δt = α + β⋅δJ + σ⋅δz with J being a jump parameter; δz being Gaussian (not DeLillovian) white noise; and α, β ‘n’ σ being user-defined constants.Once the plot convolutions specified above are inserted, resulting in S2, various themes may be brought to bear. Seminal reviews by Penkevich (2012), Jenn(ifer) (2012), and Graye (2012) discuss a wide variety of these themes and should serve as the basis for the next stage of textual input. The motifs identified form a set B ⊂ (Nature of Control, Paranoia, Preterite vs. Elite, Us vs. Them, etc.). Sampling from B proceeds in the same manner described above for A, i.e., according to the probability weights defined by the user. We denote the result of this as S3.Authorial insights into human nature are treated in a similar way. However, lists constructed using the aforementioned reviews feature insights of the reviewers themselves. This, in essence, removes layers of obfuscation so that transformations are necessary to reconstruct the more muddled original set. This is achieved by adding random perturbations and mapping the results into Hilbert space. Draws from this set of transformed and re-adumbrated insights inserted into S3 give us S4.Stylistic modifications to S4 are important when attempting to simulate the GR experience. For one, the narration should vary depending on the POV character. Allow average words per sentence in certain randomly chosen sections to be fully three times greater than the overall average. A smaller but consistently applied transformation is to take a common four-letter word and substitute in a three-letter alternative that, for what it’s worth, is phonetically more correct. For Pynchon, this meant “says” → “sez”. The result of these modifications is denoted S5.A GR simulation would not be complete without one further stylistic “enhancement”. Any vanilla sex scenes within S5 may be replaced with random draws from Y. Denote:U := incidence of urolagniaC := incidence of coprophagiaK := incidence of kinkiness of any other formWe can then specifyY=U⋅C⋅K!Finally, the result of this last modification, S₆, should be submitted to voice recognition software and compared with Pynchon’s own voice. Any wavelets that differ by more than 2 σ should then be truncated within S₆ to create S7. It is our contention that S7 will be a lexically similar rendition of the original when the default values of the parameter inputs are chosen. Alternatively, our framework also allows customization such that GR may be generated with a twist. Options along these lines are discussed in the final section below.Prospects Going ForwardPynchon’s well-known penchant for formulaic detail coupled with random noise makes GR a natural vehicle for demonstrating our methods. As stated above, by choosing the relevant inputs and their GR-consistent probability values, a book very much like GR may be generated. By repeating the process, multiple instances may be constructed. With sufficient computing power, these multiple instances can be fed into a genetic algorithm to determine an “optimal” GR (where optimality is defined in terms of individual tastes). For instance, by dialing down the weight assigned to silly poems in the initial stage, one could generate a new GR of even greater ponderousness and density. Similarly, length settings may be varied. A GR sampler could be generated that is only a fraction of the original length. Or for the show-off readers out there looking for even greater challenges, a simulated version that doubles the length and halves the signal-to-noise ratio could be produced. Of course, our methodology may be applied to simulate any piece of writing⁵. Hybridization is also possible. For instance, if the inputs for David Morrell’s First Blood were combined with those for GR, setting it in Vietnam, and substituting in violence for half the sex scenes, something like Gravity’s Rambo would result. Hybrids that do not involve GR are also possible. Inputs from classic works by Margaret Mitchell and Haruki Murakami could be combined to create Gone with the Wind-up Bird Chronicles. The key to performing these simulations well is to draw on the astute observations of reviewers for synopses, insights ‘n’ context. We encourage readers to generate these important inputs to spectrally enrich and parabolically ground all further text simulation exercises.The code used to generate simulated versions of GR is available upon request: SLOTH, Simplatz 00001, The Zone.Endnotes¹As a further demonstration of our techniques, we invoked a random pun generator in the construction of this paper.²Their simulation involves inputting all published works of a composer such as Mozart, codifying tones, tempos, and dynamics to be used in pattern recognition software that then assigns probabilities used to generate subsequent notes. For example, if the previous measure consisted of four quarter notes with the pattern E E F G, the algorithm would scan the entire sample of the composer’s works for similar patterns as well as the notes that had followed. It may then be determined that there is a 31% probability that a quarter note G will be next, a 14% probability that it will be a quarter note E, and so on. This is then fed into the simulator to randomly determine the next note consistent with the probabilities. The newly generated note pattern would then be windowed and used in an iterative fashion to determine all subsequent notes. ³An example might be to choose words or phrases to construct a political speech: My opponent is a (Republican, Democrat, cretin) and is therefore given to (flip-flopping, demagoguery, pleasuring male goats). In contrast to him, I vow to support (education, the environment, the people, bridges to nowhere only when the quid is sufficiently pro quo). ⁴While it is only right to recognize Greg (2010) for the brevity and pith of his plot summary, it did not allow us to specify a P[t] function to highlight the nonlinearity w.r.t. time.⁵This write-up itself was generated through simulation – a kind of meta-feature of what amounts to postmodernistic content formulation.ReferencesGraye, Ian, 2012, Goodreads Review of Gravity’s Rainbow.Greg, 2010, Goodreads Review of Gravity’s Rainbow.Jenn(ifer), 2012, Goodreads Review of Gravity’s Rainbow. Morrell, David, 1972, First Blood, Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY.Penkevich, S., 2012, Goodreads Review of Gravity’s Rainbow.Pynchon, Thomas, 1973, Gravity’s Rainbow, Penguin Books, New York, NY.Appendix AOur rating of the original GR instance, as published by Pynchon, was derived by integrating across a uniformly distributed utility function, U(x,y). The limits of integration in the x dimension range from boring to funny; in the y dimension they range from obscure to profound.∫ ∫ U(x,y) dx dy = ★★★Appendix BThe following poem was generated using the simulation techniques described above. The primary input was a single page of a rhyming dictionary. A secondary input was utilized as well: The Low-Brow’s Guide to Self-Indulgence. It was meant to convey a reader’s reaction at the midway point of the GR endeavor.I had hoped to attainOr at the very least feignA good stretch of the brainWith this GR campaign.But it’s awfully arcaneAnd though I hate to complainIt's become a real strain.I’m not sure I’ll stay sane.Yet I cannot abstainDespite genuine pain.Besides,Can it be the worst bane?A skull full of Chow mein?

Leo Robertson

(Not a lot of this review is about the content of GR, because who am I to even say what that is?)Okay, this book is bloody brilliant.I didn't think so at first, having not understood a lot of it through not paying attention and zoning out because there's a new story happening almost every paragraph if not sentence. Checking the wikipedia summary to try and keep up made me pretty sure I wasn't reading the same book (They're in a casino? He slept with who? She died?)And, like all human beings (if they're stare-in-the-mirror honest with themselves), I get really really annoyed when someone else exists or has existed who is phenomenally cleverer than I am: won't have it. So, at first these things convinced me that I didn't like it. Authors like Thomas Pynchon, William Faulkner,James Joyce, most recently and amazingly Elfriede Jelinek (and a whole host of others that I haven't read yet) would laugh with contempt at my pathetic and cliched need as a reader to understand everything that I read, and despite how much respect and appreciation I have for these authors and their books it remains a jarring and unsettling experience for a plot to pass over your head BUT I have not yet got into the idea of re-reading, which this and certain other books demand.You know what? Sometimes David Lynch films are geniunely pretty good, sometimes you want to listen to Animal Collective, sometimes it is fun to find and support a local book shop, what with all the crap hipsters say, they are statistically bound to get it right a handful of times as per the above examples. It's difficult through all the recommendation static to find the thing that really is worth trying out.That said, please don't judge me when I say that I have a copy of this book by my bed, and like to open it at a random page and have a read, and in these small chosen digestions I find it so much more fun, enjoyable, interesting, insightful, bizarre, funny, downright impossible, and it makes me want to find the time to read it all over again.It feels like something that is really, really important to do as someone who appreciates "Good Reads". If you, reading this review, are someone who perchance is someone who likes these "Good Reads", I would have to recommend you this book.**Original post-wtf review**Confusing brilliant blah blah... (felt out of most of the jokes, undoubtedly dragged- minus 1 star)If I have anything new to say about this book, it's that there's been a totally missed opportunity.The cover needs to be a 40s pin-up girl on a rocket with a B-movie subtitle eg. "Gravity's Rainbow, or Pynchon's Pavlovian F**k-Rocket!"So obvious!Please address this, people responsible for such decisions.

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