19 May, 2011

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky.

This is the first sentence of Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow. On this sentence alone, I am already hooked. I had a very apocalyptic dream last night about bombs raining through the sky and the construction of underground bunkers from this first sentence.

I can hardly wait to dig in to this book. Any book. As a professor, reading for pleasure gets relegated to holidays and summers. There is simply no brain power during the school semester to truly enjoy a book. At least not for me.

Every summer my reading goals are ambitious. I attempt to read for posterity rather than pleasure. I am one of those dorks who would like to put the "well-read" feather in my cap. Last summer I nearly read the complete works (had a hard time getting my hands on a copy of The Last Tycoon) of F. Scott Fitzgerald, thus sealing him in my mind as one of my favorite novelists and arguably one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.

This summer I decided to take an ambitious route. I noticed my overall reading tastes favor the British Victorian era and the American and British Modern Era (1900s--1940s). I am sorely lacking in some juicy Postmodern reading. You know, mankind seriously questioning their place in the world whilst challenging doctrines and authority, and defending their way of life against totalitarian and/or robotic governments. The good stuff.

I stumbled across a list of novels--one of those lists major publications throw out every few years--Time Magazine assembled as the 100 greatest English-Language novels from 1923 to 2005. Perfect, I thought, just the time frame I want. The list only had about ten novels I had read, so I only have 90 novels from the list to read. An easy goal, right!?!

Rather than start with the first novel on the list, I decided to a) read all the titles and select the one most interesting, and b) select an author I had not read before. Gravity's Rainbow (that sounds like fun) by Thomas Pynchon (he's recommended to me many times).

I grabbed the book on our weekly family jaunt to the library. Here is the reaction from the family:

Daughter: Ooooh, Mommy got a book on bombs. Scary!

Husband (PhD in Rhetoric & Composition and overall super sexy smartypants): Pynchon, eh? You might be reading this book all summer or blow right through it. Some people think his work is too difficult to read. But you tend to like difficult.  

So I will let you know how it goes. On to reading! 


  1. Wow, you're such a nerd. Well, I'm just glad that you're getting the reading done for the both of us.

  2. We were in Houston and Jim saw this book on our aunt's bookshelf and said, "Have you read this?"