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WTF?

I’ve begun reading Gravity’s Rainbow and am sort of paralyzed by how much there is going to be to write about. It’s a problem with any of the books of the sort we tend to cover here, but this one seems so much more complex in some ways, and so much more in need of very deep dives on many topics (e.g. WWII history, psychology, the paranormal, narrative approach) than some of our other books have seemed to me. The book covers such wide ground in the first week’s sections that there’s going to be lots left undiscussed here. I don’t think I can do anything resembling justice to the book in my posts and still keep my day job and my family. Even with a couple of bloggers joining me (more on that soon), there’ll be huge gaps.

So I’m trying something a little different for this read. I’ve added a WTF page that you can use to propose ideas for the bloggers here to cover or to ask questions about things that baffle you in the book that you think may merit some attention. If anybody even fills the form out, it’s entirely possible that we’ll have neither expertise nor inclination to address the questions, but we’ll at least consider them. This is basically a way to have a chance at starting a new topic without derailing the comment threads on another post.

If we get a fair number of questions/requests and no bloggers pick up the topics, maybe I’ll do an occasional roundup that includes a listing of untouched topics with an invitation to take them up in the comments. If the thing just generates spam, I’ll turn it off.

So, throughout this read, if you want to ask a question or suggest a topic, head on over to the WTF page and get in touch.

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  1. February 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    This is a great idea! I’m right there with you on the daunting array of inroads to choose from; hopefully we’ll get some of these WTFs to help guide us.

  2. jrlsberro
    February 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I love this idea! At worst no one bothers with it, and at best it will generate some wonderful discussion and perhaps be similar to the forums from the original Infinite Summer read with whole topics basically taking on a life of their own.

  3. February 18, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear.

    In. Way. Over. My. Head.

    Can’t we go back to something easy, like Ulysses? 😉

  4. DCN
    February 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Oddly Enough: I sometimes have a hard time settling on what I am going to read next (for a lot of reasons that are not really important). Last night, I decided, rather than read a new book, I’d re-read one of my old favorites. I stood for a long time at my bookshelf trying to decide between Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest (I assume I can confess that here without feeling self-conscious). I settled on Ulysses and got to reading and had a nice evening.

    On this read, I decided to try the Gabler Edition, which I’d not read before, and out of curiosity was reading about it on the Internet, and come across Infinite Zombies for the first time and find that you are about to embark on a group read of Gravity’s Rainbow.

    I considered for a moment putting Ulysses down and starting Gravity’s Rainbow, since I almost began re-reading that instead. However, because of my painful indecision, I decided that it would be best for me to stick with Ulysses–and perhaps read Gravity’s Rainbow when I am finished and try and catch up with you folks.

    All of the above is not the points. This is the point:

    Gravity’s Rainbow is my favorite novel and to those of you who are reading it for the first time, good luck and have fun! I’ve read it four times and each time it is a real pleasure. The book is a wonder and a joy. Here are some thoughts I send you off with (just in case our paths never cross again):

    1. The book is very funny. Infinite Jest and Ulysses and Moby-Dick are all funny as well, but not like Gravity’s Rainbow is funny. Gravity’s Rainbow is full of extremely corny jokes, extremely gross jokes, and extremely corny gross jokes. Enjoy yourself.

    2. The book is very confusing. To be honest, I’ve read it four times, and read some scholarly works on it, and the book is, at its core, baffling. I don’t mean this to turn you off, but to bolster you. Remember: if you are reading and are confused, it is okay. We all are. The way I made it through the first time was to release my desire and need to “get it” and to just plow through, taking pleasure in the strange parade and enjoying the ride. There are still vast swaths where I am not really sure what is going on and I am not sure that knowing what is going on is the point. I think it is opposite of the point.

    3. Everything I know about 20th C. world history, I learned from Gravity’s Rainbow (and to a lesser degree, V). I am serious about this. For all of a mad-cap strangeness, the central element, history, is real and true and right.

    4. Seriously: Don’t Give Up. As you read the novel, the Northern Hemisphere will be rotating into spring. Think how wonderful it will be to read those last pages as the air gets warm and animals begin to coo and chirp and you put your sweaters away and sit outside in a t-shirt, sun on arms.

    Dang. Now I feel like I’ve almost talked myself into re-shelving Ulysses and reading Gravity’s Rainbow with you all.

  5. AbqCho
    February 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Just started last night and will definitely add to the WTF page.

    This is my second read — read it once in my mid-20s, and now again in my late 40s. Still blown away by the very first sentence, “A screaming comes across the sky.”

    What a writer, what a book!

    And thank you to all you brave bloggers – can’t wait!

  1. February 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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