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Inherent Vice: A Novel Paperback – July 27, 2010
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"Pynchon flashes the Sixties rock references faster than a Ten Years After guitar solo: His characters walk around wearing T-shirts from Pearls Before Swine, name-drop the Electric Prunes, turn up the Stones' 'Something Happened to Me Yesterday' on the radio. (I had never heard of Bonzo Dog Band's "Bang Bang" before, but it's on my iPod now.) The rock & roll fanboy love on every page is a feast for Pynchon obsessives, since we've always wondered what the man listens to….The songs are fragments in the elegiac tapestry for the Sixties, an era full of hippie slobs who just wanted to be left alone and so accidentally backed into heroic flights of revolutionary imagination. Can you dig it?" --Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone
Amazon Exclusive: Thomas Pynchon's Soundtrack to Inherent Vice
Larry "Doc" Sportello is a private eye who sees the world through a sticky dope haze, animated by the music of an era whose hallmarks were peace, love, and revolution. As Doc's strange case grows stranger, his 60s soundtrack--ranging from surf pop and psychedelic rock to eerie instrumentals--picks up pace. Have a listen to some of the songs you'll hear in Inherent Vice—the playlist that follows is designed exclusively for Amazon.com, courtesy of Thomas Pynchon. (Links will take you to individual MP3 downloads, full albums, or artist pages.)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Pynchon's deceptively lighthearted stab at detective fiction is a lazy jog through the brambles of stoned late '60s Southern California, with a half-cocked private eye named Doc Sportello, who specializes more in meandering than actual investigating. Freaks and straights talk past each other, their meanings eluding all attempts at mutual comprehension, and Ron McLarty channels Doc's slurred mumble expertly and vividly brings to life the novel's sun-soaked, druggy ambience. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, July 22). (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Pynchon's hero, Doc Sportello, wobbles his way through a woozy, sex and drugs and rock and roll exploration of the psychedelic landscapes of 1971 Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Don't let the pot haze fool you, Doc is a keen observer with his own code of conduct that is every bit as consistent and admirable as that laid down by his spiritual fore-bearers, Phillip Marlow and Sam Spade. There's mystery upon mystery here, brilliant wordplay, astounding dialog and some terrific humor.
Inherent Vice sneaks up on you. It's light, mysterious and fun but there's something deeper here. Like all Pynchon, there's a layer of paranoia that should not be ignored. There's more going on every day than most folks see and Pynchon is a master of providing glimpses through the fog. If the movie and this book get more people looking where Pynchon is pointing, I have to see that as a good thing.
Pynchon uses the Private Investigator genre to explore the culture changes as the 1960s merged into the 1970s. This was when the Tate LaBianca murders by the Manson family rocked the peace, love, and trust ethos of the free love movement. Change was in the air: "...life in psychedeic-sixites L.A. offered more cautionary arguments than you could wave a joint at against too much trust, and the seventies were looking no more promising." [p 70]
Los Angeles in the 60s were all about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Doc Sportello, Pynchon's protagonist, is a hip (hippie?) Private I, into all of the above as he investigates the disappearance of his ex girlfriend and her current boyfriend, a real estate mogul.
The further Doc gets into the investigation the more corruption he finds in law enforcement, politics and the establishment as they pushback against the love and drug culture. The establishment uses bullies and thugs to reestablish its power; Doc realizes "If everything in this dream of prerevolution was in fact doomed to end and the faithless money-driven world to reassert its control over all the lives it felt entitled to touch, fondle, and molest, it would be agents like these, dutiful and silent, out doing the s***work, who'd make it happen." [p 129]
I like the interplay between Doc and Bigfoot - his adversary/helpmate(?) in the police department. There is plenty of ambiguity and potential double crossing to keep the reader turning the pages. One section toward the end gets a little gory but thankfully it didn't go on too long.
Pynchon revels in the feeling of the time, channeling Hunter S Thompson: "On certain days, driving into Santa Monica was like having hallucinations without going to all the trouble of acquiring and then taking a particular drug, although some days, for sure, any drug was preferable to driving into Santa Monica." [p 50].
I'm not a big reader of the Private Investigator genre so I can't rate the novel on how well it adheres to those conventions. That being said, it seems to contain many of the common elements: a broke PI with a shabby office working the underground and collaborating with the police when necessary. I especially like look back at the 60s through the lens of the 21st century; it elevates the novel from a simple read and toss detective novel to a more nuanced piece of work.
Personally, I liked reading this take on L.A. in the 60s given that I was a high school kid looking into the city with awe and wonder from the Antelope Valley, just the other side of the San Gabriel mountains.
My biggest quibble is with the use of the beginning of the internet (Arpanet) that one of the characters uses to help Doc. It seems too much of deux ex machina to get information to move the story along.
The audiobook of Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" may be the best road trip aid yet devised. Maybe it's that highway driving is a sort of drug trip, and thus serves as a gateway into the mind of permanently stoned PI Doc Sportello. Maybe it's the way Ron McLarty's rough and ready voice navigates the range between Jade's massage parlor coos, Bigfoot Bjornson's V8 rumble, and several rousingly sung anthems of surf, cars and Vietnam. Or maybe it's that the covering of many hundreds of miles clues the listener in to Pynchon's essential road-ness: the comic names that go flashing by, the repetitions of cultural markers, like truck stops on the Interstate, the diverting conspiracies, never fully resolved, that branch like byways from the novel's neo-Noir blacktop heart. Whatever it is, this is a great way to lean back in your seat, reach out with your awareness, and let your cares drop away in the rear-view mirror.
Most recent customer reviews
Pynchon's writing technique is very unique and is said to be hard to follow.Read more