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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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Top Customer Reviews
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...
The title of Smith’s 760-page book claims to show “what happens on each page of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity Rainbow.” This title is very misleading. Call me artistically-challenged, but there are only weak connections between the illustrations and the novel. (I would read one or two dozen pages of the novel then view Smith's illustrations.) While some of the sketches are interesting (I particularly like the sketches of people), I did not like most of sketches. I bought this book based on the five-star reviews here; I am now honestly puzzled by the statements made in those reviews. I regret purchasing the book.
An aside: In 1974, the Pulitzer Prize fiction judges unanimously voted to give the prize to “Gravity’s Rainbow.” The Pulitzer’s advisory board refused to award the prize to Pynchon (for various reasons) and the fiction judges refused to submit an alternate. Therefore, no prize was awarded that year.
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.
Even if you were to leave Pynchon's novel out of it - the art itself - page after page after page after page.... it's a volume you'll come back to for idle perusing for years to come.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Art is a matter of taste, but this is just plain bad. Skip it and buy a good art book.Published on April 3, 2014 by SCOTT MOBERLY
It will require more intensive study to offer a proper review. But this is a highly idiosyncratic volume keyed in (I'm not sure how yet) to one of the more important ur-novels of... Read morePublished on January 30, 2014 by Jahana
This book is the perfect aid to those reading "Gravity's Rainbow"! I've read "Gravity's Rainbow" at least four times and its always got something new and shocking! LOVE the book.Published on November 15, 2012 by Sherrill A. Smith
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. Read morePublished on May 19, 2012 by dc
Sorry to burst everyone's bubble (I haven't seen many reviews with this high an average, truth be told), but: there's no evidence whatsoever -- despite the convenient "title" --... Read morePublished on September 30, 2011 by Smiley McGrouchpants
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... Read morePublished on April 23, 2011 by Bill Chance
This is the perfect example of how a book should be illustrated. The pictures aren't literal, they're abstract intepretations. Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Natália Maranca
Mr Apollo is mistaken. The images in this book are printed life-size. The originals are NOT 8.5" X 11". Read morePublished on October 8, 2009 by fact checker