We recently read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. The book is considered one of the GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS EVER WRITTEN SO HELP ME GOD (20th Century Category). Thousands of people say they have read it; hundreds of people have actually read it; and 4 people have enjoyed it.
No one has understood it – making it the quintessential modern (or is it post-modern – we get confused) novel. The story (if you can call it that) is like gentrification in your major cities: New York, LA, Roanoke, New Shoreham. It’s sprawling but it’s also dense. It is literary and sophomoric and occasionally pornographic – just like Block Island.
Assuming he is still alive, Mr. Pynchon is a remarkable person. We say “assuming” because he is a recluse, and no one actually knows if he is still alive. There are very few pictures of him, and even slimy celebrity “journalists” have been unable to hack into his computer and steal all the naked selfies he has undoubtedly taken. That alone is remarkable.
The most interesting thing about the book (and Pynchon) is this. In 1974 Gravity’s Rainbow won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Actually, it shared that honor with another book no one reads. Instead of attending the ceremony, Mr. Pynchon authorized a comedian to go in his place. The comedian accepted the award on behalf of Richard Python and then gave a bizarre and funny acceptance speech. In this era of attention seeking, I cannot imagine anyone (other than perhaps Bob Dylan) doing that.
As for my comments on Gravity’s Rainbow, we didn’t actually read it. We only said we read it.
Alison Wonderland, Chief Editor and Adjunct Professor for Student Loans