From: (Rachel Chalmers)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.books
Subject: Re: Gravity's Rainbow
Date: 19 Jan 1995 03:34:29 MET
Organization: SCRG, Computer Science Department, Trinity College Dublin
A synopsis of Gravity's Rainbow ? The work of a moment !!

There's this rocket, right, which looks exactly like the rocket in "Explorers on the Moon", you know like Tintin, and it travels faster than the speed of sound, so you don't hear it until after it's hit. Oh, I should've said, this is all in the Second World War. So, starting with bananas, there's this English officer named Pirate Prentice who has a friend, a US Army officer, both of them based in London, named Tyrone Slothrop, whose name is an anagram of "Sloth or Entropy" though it doesn't say so in the book, and Slothrop, descended from a long line of New England Slothrops and terrified of being sodomised by large black men ever since he got drunk and dropped his harmonica down a toilet in which he happened, at the time, to be drunkenly vomiting, Slothrop, as I was saying, gets an erection every time one of the rockets is going to fall on London. This attracts thge attention of the scientists Pointsman and Spectro, working at The White Visitation, a scientific establishment on the cliffs of Dover. Points- an is a Pavlovian and second cousin to Burroughs' Dr. Benway but, again, it doesn't say so in the book and since il n'y'a hors de texte I'd forget about _that_ line of inquiry _right_ now. Slothrop, distraught, having been fed disgusting sweets by the mother of a girlfriend (incidentally, you can still get Meggezones here and they're every bit as disgusting), leaves for the Casino Hermann Goering where he rescues the mysterious Katje Borgesius from a specially-trained octopus whose name escapes me for the present moment if Einstein was wrong and there is indeed such a thing. Once he's there he starts to go on a hunt for the mysterious 00000 rocket (that's it's codenumber), all of which is linked to the living plastic Imipolex G and the fate of Gottfried, a blond Aryan boy who had been held with Katje in sexual slavery by the rocket troop commander Enzian. Slothrop also attracts the unwelcome contumely of a malevolent US intelligence officer and full-time bigot, Major Marvy, but fortunately eludes him by discarding his pig outfit which Major Marvy puts on and in which he is subsequently, having been mistaken for Sloth- rop by a group of, of, I forget who they were but it's too late to stop now, castrated. Slothrop, meanwhile, heads further into the Zone and at one point fucks (can I say "fucks" ?) the pre-pubescent Bianca, daughter of a legendary German film star who's one part Dietrich and in terms of cohabiting with Nazis, two parts Riefenstahl. Bianca subsequently disappears and Slothrop, who's something of a schlemiehl, if you'll excuse the profanity, blunders on in search of the 00000, which is being operated by (or was once in the custody of) a group of black German soldiers called the Schwarzkommando, all that's left of the all-but exterminated Herero people (a real massacre, look it up) and now a demoralised group of rocket troops. There's also a sub- plot, involving Roger Mexico and his hopeless pursuit of Jessica Swanlake, and I could've mentioned Peter Sachsa and the rocket engineer Mondaugen who's also a character in Pynchon's earlier novel "V", but they're subordinate, in a sense, to the Slothrop tale, which winds up on the back of an album cover. But, a word of advice, the second that projector breaks down, leave the f***ing cinema. I hope this was of assistance.

Copyright 1995 A-Alex Johnston

This page was last changed on Jan 21 1995, 15:30 by Comments and corrections welcome.