Friday, September 09, 2005

Fear not, I haven't gone postmodern on y'all, but I'm mixing it up here. A complimentary issue of BookForum magazine (Summer 2005) arrived in yesterday's mail and there is a large article on Thomas Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow written by Gerald Howard (a Bay Ridge native, no less) and accompanied by "appreciations" by 20+ other writers, including Don Delillo, Tom Robbins, Jeffrey Eugenides, and many more. I am proud to admit that I actually read this amazing book in the early 90's, with the aid of a companion text to help me understand what the hell was going on.

It is by far the most difficult text I have ever read and the several months that I took reading it while working at Bank of America were completely gratifying. Anyway, this was on my mind this morning as I read Howard's article, which I have almost finished. Next will be the appreciative paragraphs from all the other writers. One thing that resounded was the statement that the opening line of the novel is the most memorable since Melville's "Call me Ishmael...".

GR opens with the line "A screaming comes across the sky" which alludes to the V-2 rocket launched by the Germans in WWII. These haunting six words echo over 30 years after they first appeared in print in 1973. Think: the video of the firemen working in lower Manhattan as they hear the roar of United Flight 11 as it accelerates and smashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. A screaming came across the sky. I knew, from Sixth Avenue, as I watched the plane I had seen just moments before detonate on the horizon, that the world would never be the same.
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