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The Gravity's Rainbow Handbook

A Key to the Thomas Pynchon Novel
Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

Thomas Pynchon has a reputation as a "difficult" author - but he doesn't have to be! With this new guide, Gravity's Rainbow can be understood by the average listener. Included are: a chapter-by-chapter summary and commentary on the story, a thorough description of all major characters, a biography of Pynchon, suggestions for essay topics, and much more. This guide is guaranteed to help you finish and make sense of Gravity's Rainbow - all in a concise and easy format. Whether you are totally new to the book or just want to deepen your understanding, this guide will save you hours of struggle and frustration.

©2015 Robert Crayola (P)2016 Robert Crayola

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Makes the actual GR book much more accessible

What did you like most about The Gravity's Rainbow Handbook?

Gives a really good mental map of the book, the structure and the characters but in no way diminishes the actual novel.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Gravity's Rainbow Handbook?

The list of the characters, some very droll comments in there.

What does Stephen Paul Aulridge Jr. bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A very measured reading but eminently listenable to.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No but that was not the intention of the book.

Any additional comments?

Essential reading before tackling GR

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-01-18

A Solid Summary

The author has a clear and interesting focus, but it goes to show how malleable the content of the actual novel is. The approach here is a somewhat cynical one, which, in my humble opinion, is not the wholistic nature of Gravity’s Rainbow. In fact, I think there’s quite a bit of optimism to be found, even (or especially) in the closing pages. Granted, it all depends on what major thematic lens you place atop the text i.e. religion, politics, technology, humanity, connection, war, etc. The only real issue I have is that SPOILERS he did not address the theatre’s bombing at the very beginning of the novel being paralleled and exemplified at the very end, which is massively important in supporting the thematics of the story and solidifying the book as the “postmodern masterwork” it’s constantly acclaimed to be.

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  • Arthur
  • 07-10-18

Gets it about right

The Gravity's Rainbow Handbook tries to cut up the epic GR into bite-sized chunks. It starts out with some general comments (this was my favorite part, spot on!) and gives a much-needed list of characters. There are also some trigger warnings which some people may appreciate before trying to tackle GR. The main portion of the Handbook reads kind of like a list of things that happen in the novel. It finishes with some essay questions and answers.
If you have trouble following the story...like me...then this will probably help. The book gives you a play-by-play, but doesn't do too much of the thinking for you. I like very much. It acknowledges how much of Gravity's Rainbow is ambiguous or vague, and doesn't pretend to give easy answers that don't exist. However, it also doesn't really connect the dots for you. Some important connections were overlooked, and the most difficult themes (such as the corporate conspiracy themes) weren't really tackled in the Handbook.
Also, there are a few points I believe the Handbook gets flat wrong. Specifically:
1) The relationship between Franz and Ilse,
2) the relationship between 00000 and 00001, and
3) the meaning of "beyond the zero" as it pertains to pavlovian conditioning.
But, these are minor points. If you've read Gravity's Rainbow I don't think they will bother you very much.
This handbook recommends that you read it before you tackle GR, but I disagree. I think a summary of events in GR is even harder to follow than the book itself. I suggest you read GR first and then use this to fill in any gaps.
Finally, I didn't enjoy the narration very much. Some of the pronunciations made me cringe. There is a very minor character in GR who can't pronounce vowels with umlauts. I believe this character may be our narrator in disguise.
A star review system is tricky. I hope Mine aren't seen as too negative. The handbook is worth the money and is trying to strike a difficult balance on a difficult piece of work. Just don't expect this (or anything else) to "explain" GR or make it easy. After all, if climbing the mountain is easy, what's the point?

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  • philip
  • 23-07-18

A pretty concise plot summary which is no easy task

I read Gravity’s Rainbow once a couple of years ago. I had a reading buddy with whom I held a weekly call to discuss the previous weeks reading and that helped immensely, though I would never have said that I truly ‘got’ the book or understood half of what was going on but I loved it nonetheless. This handbook is something I wish I had when I first read it and I’m thrilled to read this again the next time I read GR.