Gravity’s Rainbow is, without doubt, the most dense and one of the most challenging works of fiction I have ever read. It lives up to its reputation of being a madcap, sprawling yet tightly packed, post-modern epic. It also lives up to its reputation of being difficult. Despite my original skepticism and the sheer pretentiousness of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the degree to which I enjoyed it. I am glad I read it, although I certainly enjoyed some parts more than others. The sheer number of characters (400!) and narrative styles made it difficult to keep track of what was happening and at times of the primary themes. Some scenes seem repetitive and at times I wanted to scream because a theme I understood was being repeated, but one I did not understand seemed to have been neglected. Naturally, just keeping track of the characters was difficult at times. On the other hand, this is a highly inventive book and I have read no other like it. There is a beautiful rhythmic quality to the way the words flow. The degree to which that feels natural is highlighted by the fact that the frequent points at which characters burst into song without it being jarring. The writing is extremely pretentious, of course, but also skilled.
September 29, 2011