Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant opening sentence), ‘a screaming comes across the sky,’ heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. The novel’s title, Gravity’s Rainbow, refers to the rocket’s vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again.
Soon Tyrone is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany. Gravity’s Rainbow, however, dosen’t follow such a standard plot; one must have faith that each manic episode is connected with the great plot to blow up the world with the ultimate rocket. There is not one story, but a proliferation of characters (Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, Tantivy Mucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more) and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns only just past our comprehension.
Gravity’s Rainbow is a blizzard of references to science, history, high culture, and the lowest of jokes.
About the Author
Thomas Pynchon was born in Long Island, USA in 1937. He took a scholarship at Cornell University and studied Engineering before switching to study English. He has served in the United States Navy and worked as a technical writer at Boeing. Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason & Dixon. Against the Day, and most recently Inherent Vice. He received the national book award for Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974.