Monday, August 16, 2010


To my way of thinking, one of the keys to happiness is setting your sights low.

For instance, if I aspired to be a successful rocket scientist, I’d be horribly depressed since I can hardly keep up with my daughter’s seventh-grade math.

Or, if my dream was to create world peace, I’d want to poke my eyes out with a pencil given all the pain and suffering that takes place daily.

For that matter, even if all I hoped to achieve was painting a few of the outside windowsills that have cracked and peeled in our summer sun, I’d be depressed since, as usual, I’ve found other ways to be distracted from doing chores I oughtta.

My own “big” summer project these last few weeks has simply been to make it through the reclusive author Thomas Pynchon’s masterpiece, Gravity’s Rainbow, and with a superhuman effort last evening involving several hundred pages, I finally succeeded! Woo-hoo. Too bad I’m not acquainted with the author Larry McMurtry; now he could say he knows three people who have claimed to have read it.

Having completed it, I can’t say I really know what it was about. It was more like the experience of listening to music than of reading a novel. Reading worked best for me when I just gave myself over to Pynchon’s prose; when I liked it least was when I felt I was being verbally assaulted by some crazy person with loggorhea who wouldn’t or couldn’t stop talking about his teenage boy Penthouse magazine Forum orgy fantasy.

The only insight I can offer is that my own reading experience had the parabolic shape associated with the title and (one of the) underlying theme(s) of the book: it was extremely slow in starting but gradually gained speed; an instant, at the top of the arc, where everything came to a standstill, but then the end in a rush, culminating in a conclusion I wasn’t didn’t notice until afterwards.


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