Title: Gravity's Rainbow
Author: Thomas Pynchon
Genre: postmodern WWII conspiracy riddled mindfuck
I finally finished this book, and I don't even know what to say. Or think. This book really overwhelmed me, which doesn't happen that often. In addition to its taking me like two months to read, I can't even pretend to know what was going on a lot of the time. I think I understood maybe 30% of this book. I can't even say whether I liked it or not - I don't know. I keep dreaming about rockets and thinking about it all of the time, so that's something.
So anyway... premise. It's the end of WWII. The main character (ostensibly) is an American soldier named Tyrone Slothrop; he's having a fine time of it banging various ladies all over the place when someone notices that wherever he sleeps with someone gets hit by a rocket right afterward. So are the rockets falling because Slothrop is having sex, or is Slothrop turned on because he can sense the energy of approaching rockets? Cause and effect is a big deal here.
Anyway, circumstances occur. Slothrop ends up on this odyssey across Europe to (ostensibly) find out about this one particular rocket but ends up doing all sorts of other things in the meantime. This is interspersed with really long rambling descriptive passages and really detailed fetishy sex scenes, occasionally between characters who hang out for about twenty pages and then go away forever.
The tone of the whole novel is really flippant and some absurd shit goes down. At one point Slothrop saves a lady from a giant octopus.
I'll probably read this again but it probably won't be for about a decade because I know that reading it through again will give me a way better understanding of what's going on and what he's saying, but on the other hand it might make me certifiably crazy. I'd recommend this to folks who weren't infuriated by the end of The Crying of Lot 49 and maybe even liked it.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: what's the fourth wall? / ostensibly sci-fi
I thought my friend recommended this to me, but looking back on it, the conversation went like this:
"Have you read Timequake?"
"Nope. What's it about?"
"Uh... well... it's really... difficult to say actually. It was... interesting."
Which should have tipped me off because he's normally pretty eloquent.
Anyway, think of Timequake as Timequake 2. Timequake 1 was the book Kurt Vonnegut was writing but didn't like, so he gutted it for its better passages and reworked them into Timequake 2, which he explains early on. The idea is that in February 2001, the Universe suddenly contracted and then started expanding again - a timequake! Everyone on Earth gets sent back to February 1991 and has to relive the next ten years exactly as they did before. They're aware that its a rerun, but they are powerless to change it.
That's almost what the book is about, but not really. Here's a quote I liked though:
"Trout, on his cot next to the Academy, was operating nothing more dangerous or headstrong than a ballpoint pen. When free will kicked in, he simply went on writing. He finished the story. the wings of a narrative, begging to be told, had carried its author over what was for most of us a yawning abyss."
Which lead kinda nicely into
Title: Trout Fishing in America
Author: Richard Brautigan
This is probably the thing Brautigan is best known for. They are a bunch of vignettes mostly about trout fishing in America. Or sometimes Trout Fishing in America. It's kind of hard to explain but then, I guess most Brautigan is difficult to explain. This is short, I'd recommend it to everyone because even if you don't like it... whatever. It takes like two hours to read. (For what it's worth, I liked it enough that this is the second time I read it.)
A quote from this one too:
"The Reply of Trout Fishing in America:
There was nothing I could do. I couldn't change a flight of stairs into a creek. The boy walked back to where he came from. The same thing once happened to me. I remember mistaking an old woman for a trout stream in Vermont, and I had to beg her pardon.
'Excuse me,' I said. 'I thought you were a trout stream.'
'I'm not,' she said."
Fun fact: all three of these books talk about John Dillinger. It's kind of weird. I don't remember the last time Dillinger came up... I think I saw a movie about him like a year and a half ago.
I still haven't given up on my summer reading list but I didn't expect Gravity's Rainbow to break me so much. I needed to read something else for a while. I think I'm going to read another short thing and then dive into 1000 pages of Neal Stephenson, wish me luck.
Books 'n Such
- postmodern superpost