I tried reading Gravity's Rainbow once. It made my hair hurt...Same here. I will take Dostoevsky over Tolstoy any day. I wish there was a gateway book for Tolstoy. If you want to try Thomas Pynchon, you can do The Crying of Lot 49. It’s short, weird and if you like it, heck, give Gravity’s Rainbow a try.
No such luck with Tolstoy. Here’s a couple of thousand page books. Start on page one.
Afraid of James Joyce and Ulysses? Marvel at the short stories in Dubliners. That’s a fun way to get your feet wet.
But yes, it is delightfully weird.