Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon--Private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era
In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre that is at once exciting and accessible, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there.
It's been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex- girlfriend. Suddenly she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Undeniably one of the most influential writers at work today, Pynchon has penned another unforgettable book.
Pynchon sets his new novel in and around Gordita Beach, a mythical surfside paradise named for all the things his PI hero, Larry \x93Doc\x94 Sportello, loves best: nonnutritious foods, healthy babies, curvaceous femme fatales. We\x92re in early-\x9270s Southern California, so Gordita Beach inevitably suggests a kind of Fat City, too, ripe for the plundering of rapacious real estate combines and ideal for Pynchon\x92s recurring tragicomedy of America as the perfect wave that got away. It all starts with Pynchon\x92s least conspicuous intro ever: \x93She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to\x94\x97she being Doc\x92s old flame Shasta, fearful for her lately conscience-afflicted tycoon boyfriend, Mickey. There follow plots, subplots and counterplots till you could plotz. Behind each damsel cowers another, even more distressed. Pulling Mr. Big\x92s strings is always a villain even bigger. More fertile still is Pynchon\x92s unmatched gift for finding new metaphors to embody old obsessions. Get ready for glancing excursions into maritime law, the nascent Internet, obscure surf music and Locard\x92s exchange principle (on loan from criminology), plus a side trip to the lost continent of Lemuria. But there\x92s a blissful, sportive magnanimity, too, a forgiveness vouchsafed to pimps, vets, cops, narcs and even developers that feels new, or newly heartfelt. Blessed with a sympathetic hero, suspenseful momentum and an endlessly suggestive setting, the novel\x92s bones need only a touch of the screenwriter\x92s dark chiropractic arts to render perhaps American literature\x92s most movie-mad genius, of all things, filmable. Inherent Vice deepens Pynchon\x92s developing California cycle, following The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland with a shaggy-dog epic of Eden mansionized and Mansonized beyond recognition\x97yet never quite beyond hope. Across five decades now, he\x92s more or less alternated these West Coast chamber pieces with his more formidable symphonies (V; Gravity\x92s Rainbow; Mason & Dixon; Against the Day). Partisans of the latter may find this one a tad slight. Fans of the former will know it for the throwaway masterwork it is: playful as a dolphin, plaintive as whale song, unsoundably profound as the blue Pacific.
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Riding goofyfoot in search of the True Board
My mind is like sieve so it's a good thing that ebooks have a search function which allows the reader to reference the names of the multitude of characters that come in and out of Larry "Doc" Sportello's private investigations. Pynchon forces the reader to size up even the most minor character as the possible lynchpin to the adventure, and Doc is the chameleon that moves through the multi-facited landscape who must decide how much of himself he is willing to compromise. The novel offers us an opportunity to question the motives of every person Doc encounters and presents and answers the dilemma of the 1960s: Who can you trust?
Inherent Vice review
Inherent Vice is a very well written book by Pynchon because of its detailed orientated plot, it's characters and their descriptions and its message. It's too bad a lot of that was left out of the film by Paul Thomas Anderson, which I felt was the opposite.
Weird and confusing
I tried a bunch of times to read this book. There is some great writing that makes you want to keep reading, but ultimately the plot is too confusing and strange to make it worth the effort. I never got to the end of the book and figured I'd watch the movie to figure out what happened. But I feel asleep half way through the movie so never did find out what happened.