Once a gweilo always a

Once a gweilo always a gweilo? Two different schools of thought are available today here and here.

A screaming comes across the sky….

In an act of senseless masochism, I began this week to read Thomas Pynchon’s often acclaimed and seldom read Gravity’s Rainbow. Everyone knows that G.R. is obscenely difficult to read (no fewer than 400 characters are introduced, most in the first 100 of it’s 770 pages), and most who make the attempt give up before they get to the hundredth page. It’s easy to see why. Although each sentence is a masterpiece in itself, it is simply too much for even the most febrile of minds to absorb. Turn to any page and read any sentence and you will see what I mean. Okay, I just turned randomly to page 277 and chose the first sentence upon which my eyes alighted:

The pebbled beach is crowded with families: shoeless fathers in lounge suits and high white collars, mothers in blouses and skirts startled out of war-long camphor sleep, kids running all over in sunsuits, nappies, rompers, short pants, knee socks, Eton hats. There are ice cream, sweets, Cokes, cockles, oysters and shrimps with salt and sauce. The pinball machines writhe under the handling of fanatical servicemen and their girls, throwing body-english, cursing, groaning as the bright balls drum down the wood obstacle courses through ka-chungs, flashing lights, thudding flippers….

Every sentence is like this, brimming with imagery and brilliance. It’s always compared to Ulysses, the other book readers love to give up on. I figure if I can get through all of Henry James’ The Golden Bowl and actually enjoy it, maybe I can excavate my way through this mental minefield. I only have 755 pages to go.

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