Gravity's Rainbow Death Pact

Posted on April 27, 2007 by Chris Lumens in Gravity's Rainbow.

It’s a widely believed fact that Gravity’s Rainbow is impossible to read. No humans are known to have ever finished this book due to its huge number of characters, pages upon pages of tangential subplots, obscure cultural references, and maze of randomly assembled paragraphs. I myself have attempted to read this book several times, but have never managed to get past the first 60 pages. I’m not sure what the plot really is, or even if there are main characters at all.

I am therefore starting a club to read this book to completion, and anyone who wants to participate can feel free to join me. Here are the terms: We will start reading on May 1. This gives you a couple days to pick up a copy and carefully consider what you’re about to do to your head. You could even get a head start by beginning to read right now but it’s not going to help you very much. Periodically, everyone who’s participating should post some sort of blog entry where they sum up where they are and how they’re holding up. The first person to finish wins, I guess. Everyone else should chip in and buy the winner some sort of token award. This could be a bottle of booze to make the pain stop, a tiny trophy, or something else. We can figure that out as we go along. If you didn’t win, it’s up to you whether you want to continue reading or not. If you’re close to the end, you may want to finish up so you never have to read it again. If you’re still stuck near the beginning, you probably just want to drop it.

If you have already read Gravity’s Rainbow (which we already know is impossible, so stop lying to yourself) and still want to participate, you may pick from Pynchon’s other works, which are also impenetrable. Please, no cheating by pretending you’re way farther ahead than you really are. I’m not even sure why someone would want to do this.

So if you want to participate, please leave a comment here. Please leave a link to wherever it is you’ll be keeping track of your progress. You may also wish to explain why you’re choosing to do this to yourself.

As we get this started, I leave you with this quote from a review that describes it far better than I could:

If I were to meet Thomas Pynchon tomorrow, I wouldn’t know whether to shake his hand or sucker-punch him. Probably both. I’d extend my right arm, take his hand in mine, give one good pump, then yank him towards my swinging left fist. As he lay crumpled on the ground beneath me, gasping in pain, I’d point a bony finger right between his eyes and say “That was for Gravity’s Rainbow.”