First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
“Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity’s Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the 20th century as Joyce’s Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative, and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.” (Source: Goodreads)
I am concluding my American literature month with this behemoth of a classic. Gravity’s Rainbow is my first venture into the works of Thomas Pynchon, an author who has long piqued my interest because of his hermetic lifestyle. He is one of those who you hear very little about in social media and even in news outlets. Had I not been researching on one author (I forgot who actually) for a book review piece, I might have never researched more on him. I did encounter some of his works in must-read lists but they rarely intrigued me.
To be honest, I am daunted by this new venture. Not only is it because it is going to be my first Pynchon work but the enigma surrounding him shrouds his work in a very different light. Well, Gravity’s Rainbow is rather lengthy as well but length rarely intimidates me. But I guess I am glad I managed to overcome that initial intimidation. Though I purchased the book just last year, I already included it in my 2020 Top 20 Reading List. I didn’t want the tenterhook to linger any longer.
The premise of the book, from my initial research, is about the building of a rocket or a missile. From the more than 100-pages (of nearly 800) I’ve read so far, I haven’t encountered significant references to the missile being constructed yet. Well, I still do have over 600 pages to find out exactly what happened. For now, I am immersed in getting to know the characters. And there is quite a lot really.
Gravity’s Rainbow does remind me so much of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The both share a verbosity and a structure that is very uncanny. The structure, as well, baffles me. At least for now. But they’re too distinct to say that one echoed the other. I don’t know. Infinite Jest is an encyclopedic novel, with the information and details it tried to disseminate. Gravity’s Rainbow, on the other hand, is encyclopedic in structure but not in nature. It is just that Gravity’s Rainbow is evoking the same feelings that Infinite Jest did.
There’s still a lot for me to unravel in Gravity’s Rainbow but I am looking forward to it. The pace is rather slow so I will have to bide my time. From what I have read so far and the different subplots, I expect a very complex and complicated story which will be echoed in the reading experience. I am fervently hoping that that is not how the story is going to end up but that is the impression that I am getting from the early parts of the novel.
The repetitive mention of psychological conditioning techniques (such as Pavlovian conditioning) seems to point that the story is anchored on deeper water. The missile under construction is but an allegory that I have to and must unravel as the story progresses. With over 600 pages more to read, I am expecting a lot of heavy reading ahead. I am just hoping I finish it before end of June. Keeping my fingers crossed!
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to. Moreover, I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe! And happy weekend!