- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 14 hours and 31 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: August 4, 2009
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002KE9C9Y
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Inherent Vice Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Doc, an amiable, drug-addled personal investigator, stumbles onto a vicious international crime ring as he works on a case brought to him by his ex-girlfriend. By turns brilliant and bumbling, Doc exudes a kind of humble innocence and is the likeable center of this novel. He's both trustworthy and trustful and never far from questioning his own abilities and actions ("Did I say that outloud?"). In a typical example of the endearing workings of Doc's logic, he tries to deduce the origin of a postcard he receives "from some island he had never heard of out in the Pacific Ocean, with a lot of vowels in its name":
"The cancellation was in French and initialed by a local postmaster, along with the notation courrier par lance-coco which as close as he could figure from the Petit Larousse must mean some kind of catapult mail delivery involving coconut shells, maybe as a way of dealing with an unapproachable reef."
In Doc's world, postcards delivered via coconut catapults make perfect sense.
Clearly, Pynchon is having fun with the detective genre. In one scene, Doc drives to a mansion protected by a moat with a drawbridge. After the drawbridge descends "rumbling and creaking," "the night was very quiet again--not even the distant freeway traffic could be heard, or the footpads of coyotes, or the slither of snakes." Beneath all the humor and satire, there's a darker message here. The fun is almost over for Doc and his fellow hippies as paranoia, the harbinger of future oppression, overtakes the fun-loving sixties "like blood in a swimming pool, till it occupies all the volume of the day."
At times Inherent Vice is overly constrained by its purported genre as Pynchon weaves together the complicated plotlines of a detective story, maintaining too tight a grasp on a linear reality. The excessive plotting hampers some of the book's whimsical exuberance. But, unlike much of Pynchon's previous work, Inherent Vice is eminently readable and even, at times, actually suspenseful. At under 400 pages, Inherent Vice is also one of Pynchon's shortest novels. If you've been too intimidated to attempt a Pynchon novel up to now, try this one.
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.
Imagine a surfer-noir novel set in L.A. and environs in the spring of 1970 by Thomas Pynchon. Could anything be better? Answer: Inherent Vice is better! It's everything you could imagine, and then some. Every sentence is hugely entertaining, sort of the way Cormac McCarthy is entertaining, and also P.G. Wodehous. You just relish the diction. The plot is pure Chandler in its schematics: that is, characters are multiplied unnecessarily all for the dazzling color they give to the story; plot trots behind trying to keep up and just about succeeds in catching every character before they hit the ground. As in Chandler the characters who matter sort of only slowly emerge from the carnival, some very late: but that's the point of a carnival. Everyone matters to some gum-shoe or -sandal: we're concerned here with the ones that Marlowe or Doc are concerned with.
And Pynchon is so different from the writers I've lately been thinking about, writers who narrate the experience of narration. Reading Pynchon is a little like reading Shakespeare or Hammett: I'm just a wide-eyed reader again, not a person figuring out the experience of writing this book. I mean I am that sort of audience too for fun TV and Elmore Leonard and Neal Stephenson, for example. I like being just that. But for TV or Elmore Leonard I like because I can just enjoy the easy enjoyment of the thing. Whereas Pynchon requires -- no he doesn't require, he REWARDS -- the same kind of concentration I give Woolf or Geoff Dyer: a lot of concentration. But there's something wonderful about not concentrating on the experience of the book as an act of writing. You just concentrate for your own pleasure. And, man, he writes a good last line.
It's not that Pynchon as writer isn't an issue in the book. He is. But he's astonishingly good natured as a writer. What other real writers are? I can't think of any, not even Fielding.
Anyhow the first half of the book (when it's explaining something) repeats very occasionally -- sparsely even -- and very hauntingly two versions of the same phrase: "in those days"; "at that time." This plus a reference to Vineland as a place, plus one bracketed movie date at the end, are the only authorial self-references, the only sense that you have that an author is telling this to the reader instead of the voice coming off the page as part of the laid-back generosity of the narrative atmosphere. I love those phrases. They disappear from the second half, which is part of the very sadness the book's about: the end of an era, with Manson & Nixon (Doc must be called Doc partly as a descendent of Mason's, one of whose sons is called Doctor Isaac.)
Doc is slightly younger than Pynchon himself, pushing thirty in 1970, as we learn in a great, casually sad passage:
"Plastic trikes in the yards, people out watering the flowers and working on their cars, kids in the driveways shooting hoops, the high-frequency squeal of a TV sweep circuit through a screen door as Doc came up the path of the address he was looking for, to be followed by the more worldly sound, as he reached the front steps, of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. According to Fritz, the sweep frequency was 15,750 cycles per second, and the instant Doc turned thirty, which would be any minute now, he would no longer be able to hear it. So this routine of American house approach had begun to hold for him a particular sadness." (P. 199)
Yes, I remember that routine. I thought TV's didn't do that anymore. But they do. Pynchon remembers this sound, which he can no longer hear, from forty-two years ago, when he reached the untrustworthy age of 30.
And yet the novel is entirely without self-pity, which might be why some of the smartest people I know don't like Doc much as a character: he's not made for pity: the book doesn't pity him either, it just lovingly recreates "those days," "that time" ("That time, O times!" as Cleopatra says) -- a time of endless betrayal as all times are for Pynchon, but a time when there were so many people to betray. The stoned hippie belief in innocence is ridiculous and yet something to cherish. Doc is cynical as all get-out, but still cherishes it, which means he's part of the innocence he's cynical about. He gets all this and still likes his world. You don't think people can really be like that? Pynchon is.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pynchon's writing technique is very unique and is said to be hard to follow.Read more