No, it is not unreadable. For most of its 700-plus pages it’s so crazily, scarily, sumptuously readable that you hate to put it aside even as the last paragraph thunders down on your head. The unsummarizable plot centers, to the extent that it centers at all, on Tyrone Slothrop, an American who comes to the attention of British intelligence during World War II when a map indicating the locales of his sexual encounters with London women shows that they correspond with the places struck by German V-2 missiles. Can his erections predict the random distribution of agents of death? From there we proceed into a massive continent-wide effort to construct a V-2, which is itself an occasion for a fantastic multitude of meditations upon the human need to build systems of intellectual order even as we use the same powers of intellect to hasten our destruction. (Did we mention that this is also a comedy, more or less?) Among American writers of the second half of the 20th century, Pynchon is the indisputed candidate for lasting literary greatness. This book is why.
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