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Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow Paperback – December 30, 2006


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Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow + Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books (December 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977312798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977312795
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The end result of his endeavor is less an illustrated novel than a series of eerie, high art interpretations." Marcela Valdes, Washington Post
 
"The drawings are surprisingly detailed, colorful and contemplative, adding new layers to the text and potentially earning Pynchon some new fans." -Whitney Matheson, USA Today
 
"[Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow] can be enjoyed on its own or read simultaneously with the 1973 novel, putting smith's art next to those discursive, intricate, elusive, overwritten sentences." -Jeff Baker, The Oregonian


"He draws a lurid and intoxicating netherworld, complete in its own right…an illuminating companion to the novel." Emily Barton, Los Angeles Times

From the Publisher

Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973), set in an alternative-universe version of World War II, has been called a modern Finnegan's Wake for its challenging language, wild anachronisms, hallucinatory happenings, and fever-dream imagery. With Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow, artist Zak Smith at once eases and expands readers' experience of the book. A leading exponent of punk-based, DIY art, Smith here presents his most ambitious project to date -- an art book exactly as long as the work it's interpreting: 760 drawings, paintings, photos, and less definable images in 760 pages. Extraordinary tableaux of the detritus of war -- a burned-out Königstiger tank, a melted machine gun -- coexist alongside such phantasmagoric Pynchon inventions as the "stumbling bird" and "Girgori the octopus." Smith has stated his aim to be "as literal as possible" in interpreting Gravity's Rainbow, but his images are as imaginative and powerfully unique as the prose they honor.

More About the Author

Punk artist and icon Zak Smith made a name for himself by visually interpreting Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and drawing pictures of girls in the "naked girl business." His artistic pedigree and acute observation have landed him in high-profile shows from the Whitney to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and his work has appeared in numerous publications worldwide.

Zak Smith's books include Pictures Of Girls and Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (Tin House Books), and the forthcoming We Did Porn. He is a frequent contributor to several independent comics and zines, including Paping and See How Pretty, See How Smart. He lives in Los Angeles, where he works as an artist and performs in adult films.

Customer Reviews

An exquisite work.
Natália Maranca
Now I want to read it again, this time with Zak Smith's illustrations.
Bill Chance
I noticed that one of the "tags" for this product is "genius."
Rosalind K. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Parrish on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
My two sons (Zachary and Alexander) have been saving their allowance and doing extra chores to save money for a Nintendo DS (they save half, my wife & I pay half). This has been a huge deal for them because they each really want one.

Yesterday, my wife took the boys to a bookstore, and 7 1/2 year old Zach saw Zak Smith's book based on Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow". He could not, would not put it down; he was mesmerized. He's not one to want, want, want, but this, he had to have. He looked at various and sundry art-related books for at least a half hour, and kept coming back to this book. Which was $40. After much discussion and pondering, Zach was resolute: My wife had a $16 credit at the store which she let him use and he kicked in $20 of his $27 to get the book. The point is, he gave up his Gameboy money for an art book. A big deal. He said "You know how interested I am in art, Mom!"

I've read a bit of Pynchon ("Vineland") but when I've leafed through "Granvity's Rainbow" in the past, I've thought it challenging, circular, dense. Very much like, though not so much as, the uber-interpretive "Finegan's Wake" by James Joyce (referenced, coincidentally, by Zak Smith's book). So at once I was impressed; thumbing through Zach's Zak book, even more so. It IS mesmerizing; page after page of fascinating, provoking, stirring beauty. You can get lost in there.

Not only do I now have a renewed vigor to tackle "Gravity's Rainbow", but am inspired to have (with Zach's permission) Zak Smith's profoundly astonishing book along for the cerebral roller coaster, a benevolent guide to provide dazzling clues as I navigate the former's intellectually demanding jungle.

Whether $26.37 or $39.95, worth every penny...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Newton on November 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Zak Smith is probably one of the only people who could have sincerely undertaken this project and done something both unique and interesting with it.

After a few false starts I finally read Gravity's Rainbow from start to finish over the summer and well- it's weird. It's an exercise in maximalism to the highest degree that rides on a wave of zany humor and so many references (and cross references) that it's necessary to admit one's ignorance in reading the thing. You won't understand it unless you have a guide and while I think this is a questionable move in terms of fiction, it certainly makes for material worth interpreting.

What Smith did was was take Pynchon's work and avoid symbolism by making literal illustrations from lines within the text (which he states in the preface). A literal interpretation of Pynchon is bizarre enough in and of itself, but Zak Smith is also a damn good artist with a bunch of talent *and* a very serious approach to visual art which stems out of his work ethic. These factors all make the book an interesting standalone collection of drawings- and paired with the text it makes for completely deserving turn down the path of Pynchon's magnum opus.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By fact checker on October 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mr Apollo is mistaken. The images in this book are printed life-size. The originals are NOT 8.5" X 11".

Also, in the forums, someone asked what edition of Gr this book lines up with. It lines up with any edition of GR that has the same number of pages (760).
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By dc on May 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had known that the book did not include the quote from each page of the novel that Zak was depicting, I would not have ordered the book. I first previewed the book, or Zak's work, on his website and was very impressed with the pictures and the sentences were visible beneath each picture. However, I thought overall the pictures were very good mirrors of my impressions of the book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. Olson on December 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm totally blown away by this book, after seeing these drawings at the Walker I had to own it. Check out his website to see all the drawings on line.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Vculek on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you live anywhere near Minneapolis get yourself over to the Walker Art Center, where every single one of Zak Smith's drawings/paintings/sculptures (yes, some are three dimensional) for this project are displayed on one wall. (All are in the permanent collection of the Walker.) How do I know it's all 750+ artworks? Because I counted. 45 columns by 17 rows. You could spend hours staring at them and not exhaust this monumental project. I'm not sure how long they'll remain on display so don't put it off.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill Chance on April 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have actually read Gravity's Rainbow - although it took me 25 years to do so. I started in in college and couldn't get all the way through - but every five years or so, I'd pick it up and restart at the beginning, each time getting further. Finally, with the help of an on-line concordance, I was able to get to the end. Now, it's my favorite book and it feels like a good, but very odd, friend that has come along with me over a large part of my life.

Now I want to read it again, this time with Zak Smith's illustrations. I can see myself sitting there, page by page, and turning each book in synchronicity. In the meantime, thumbing through the illustrations, picking out ones I like, trying to remember what was going in in GR... it's rare that a volume can give such pleasure over and over.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Natália Maranca on January 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the perfect example of how a book should be illustrated. The pictures aren't literal, they're abstract intepretations. It doesn't damage the reader's previous images of the scenes in Gravity's Rainbow, it only adds to them. An exquisite work. Anyone who really likes GR should have this book.
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