"Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.
"With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred. The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.
"As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.
"Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.
"Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck."
©2006 Thomas Pynchon; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"[Pynchon's] funniest and arguably his most accessible novel." (New York Times Book Review)
"Pynchon delivers a novel that matches his most influential work, Gravity's Rainbow...in complexity, humor, and insight, and surpasses it in emotional valence....A capacious, gritty, and tender epic." (Booklist)
I enjoy listening to just about anything so I find it hard to tell if this would be a better listen if not for the narration. However, the readers sing-song voice is hard to stay awake to, let alone pay attention to the story thread.
The narrator has an interesting repertoire of character voices but the one he has chosen to narrate the story between when the characters are speaking (and this encompasses the vast majority of the story) should be used to calm unruly children.
I've awaited an audibook from this author for some time although I was a little hesitant to embark on a novel 50+ hours long. The reviews on here didn't help either since they were posted a few days after the audio became available and were most likely from a fan or someone who wanted it to look good with 5 stars without having actually read the thing. I gave this book two hours of my time, but none of it was compelling. I kept asking myself why I was being thrown into this story and could find no justification for remaining interested after two hours. I understand this is not a typical novel, but I think a published book should grab you somewhere within the first two hours (or in print, by at least the second chapter). Still, I was let down. I am giving it two stars because I thought the narrator was wonderful. I would not warn against reading it, but I think this was definitely the wrong place to start with Pynchon
Difficult to follow and seemingly disjointed. I never finished the first segment. Given that life is finite, I urge you to spend your time wisely; don't buy it.
This is one of a very few books I haven't been able to finish, and I've read and listened to a great many books.
There didn't seem to be a plot, the characters were cartoonish, at best. Sorry to say, I thought it was awful, and after giving up the first time, I went back several months later and tried again.
I know Pynchon has a big fan base, but if this book is indicative of his style, I just dont' get it.
Previous reviews I wish I read first before wasting a credit. They say it all
Nancy: This is one of a very few books I haven't been able to finish, and I've read and listened to a great many books.
Daniel T: I have perhaps listened to over 100 books over the years and have never failed to finish one. This one was so bad, so poorly written that try as I might, I couldn't get through more than about 20% of it. Yuck!
Jack: Difficult to follow and seemingly disjointed. I never finished the first segment. Given that life is finite, I urge you to spend your time wisely; don't buy it.
I only wish I took the time to read their comments before I bought this stinker. I have over 1,500 Audible books and this one is in a class by itself, only the 2nd one I have bailed on, a real nonsensical stinker, save your credit
An odd story. You have to meet the book half way. Pynchon said his characters would stop what they are doing to sing a stupid song, and they do. In the end the book is fun, but for me it's Dick Hill's narration that makes it accessible. ALERT: the book is not available in the Enhanced format (at least as I write in Feb '10).
I have perhaps listened to over 100 books over the years and have never failed to finish one. This one was so bad, so poorly written that try as I might, I couldn't get through more than about 20% of it. Yuck!
I generally love longer books (I read Mitchner's "The Source" three times), but this one is the exception. The narrative wanders aimlessly around, with so much useless blather, that I found myself yelling "Get on with it!"
This book needs to be deleted and the trash immediately emptied thereafter.
This book is so much fun in so many ways, but I'll just focus on one -- the names. I suffer from biblianomia, a word I made up for inability to remember fictional character names. My paper books are full of highlighting and notes, so I wasn't sure about a 1,085-page book with over a hundred characters. I needn't have worried. The names Pynchon gives his characters, plus the narrator's masterful handling of each voice, made it easy. The itinerant mechanic/photographer is Merle Rideout. The anthropologist is named Provenance. And so on. Even minor characters get great names. My favorite is Mia Culpepper, who was mentioned briefly but so far hasn't been heard from again. I keep expecting her to show up feeling guilty about something.
I loved the author’s literary style and use of language. He creates numerous interesting characters that he always abandons in mid-circumstance. After listening to over 5 hours I realized the book has no plot whatsoever and I gave up listening.
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