More Pynchon, and Less


I feel as if I’ve been carrying Gravity’s Rainbow around in my head for months, which makes sense because I have.

It’s a difficult book, I know, and I’ve probably made it more difficult by not giving it the uninterrupted reading time it really deserves.  By the time my mind catches up to the language and settles back into the story each night, I’m already half falling asleep.

I had the same complicated relationship with Ulysses.  What I realized after awhile was that it was challenging not because of the stylized language or the countless allusions (most of which I was going to miss anyway), but because it demanded to be read in a different way than I was used to reading.   It demanded an active reading, which sounds silly because we’re always told that reading is active (in a way that, for example, television is not).  But that isn’t quite true.    Reading doesn’t always demand that much of us.  When the plots are linear and the metaphors are too easy to digest, it feels a little like empty calories.  Which can be delicious, but they’re still empty calories.

The funny thing is that I really love the book.  I don’t think Slothrop will ever take Doc’s place among my favorite fictional characters, but the language and the imaginative power are crazy beautiful.

About the author

Tom Howard

Tom Howard is the author of Fierce Pretty Things (Indiana University Press, 2019).

He received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Fierce Pretty Things won the 2018 Blue Light Books Fiction Prize, and his individual stories have won the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction, the Indiana Review Fiction Prize, the Robert and Adele Schiff Award for Fiction, the Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest, the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, the Innovative Short Fiction Prize, the Willow Springs Ficiton Prize, the Rash Award in Fiction, and the Robert J. DeMott Award for Short Prose.

He lives with his wife in Arlington, Virginia.

Add Comment

Leave a Reply

By Tom Howard


Get in touch

Feel free to follow me to get a follow back, and to say hello.

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: