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Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice

4 August 2009

"In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccostumed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the 60s, you weren't there ... or ... if you were there , then you ... or, wait, is it ..."

Mr Pynchon publishes his seventh novel, a 369 pages 'neo-noir' (Craig Seligman) mystery novel set in 1970 LA. It has been turned into a film by Paul Anderson.

Inherent Vice, August 2009

Jacket Image by Darshan Zenith, Cruiser Art

If you're driving south from LA International it should take no more than a hit or two off of your favorite brand of cigarette before you're right here, in Gordita Beach, California. Well, no, actually, this used to be the beach. Later on, all this is gonna go highrise, high-rent, high intensity. But right now, back in 1970, what it is is just HIGH. An ounce of Mexican Commercial should run you no more than ten dollars - that's with the seeds and stems, of course. The neighbors here run mostly to surfers and dopers and stewardesses, or, more correctly I guess, stewardii, who live in Gordita coz it's close to the airport and tend to hang out between flights in the bars up and down the street; so pretty much every night here is party night.

Oh, my name, uh, my name's Doc and I'm a private gumshoe, or nowadays more like gumsandal. I used to work the traditional Hollywood type of PI gigs, setting up drug busts for parties and divorce cases, or helping the cops out with their many shakedown schemes and so forth, but since I moved out here to the beach, I've been more into the smaller tickets - less karmic hassle, less guilt-tripping. Which doesn't bring in that much money, sometimes none at all. Sometimes it's even me that ends up paying the tab, whether it's in cash or something heavier; and that's - you know, it's groovy; or, I guess it WAS groovy, 'till, one night my ex-old lady shows up with a story about her boyfriend, or, actually, older guy-friend and his wife, her boyfriend. At that point it gets sorta peculiar....

M-maybe you'll just wanna read the book: I-Inherent Vice, Penguin Press. 27.95 - 27.95?! Really? That used to be, like, three weeks of groceries, man. What year is this again?

[...] nobody, not even Pynchon, has ever written dialogue of quite this sort before. Displaying a masterful grasp of vernacular nuance, that dialogue is - like the lithe, elegant prose in which it is embedded - rendered with astonishing verve.

[...] This book is a beautifully written, hilariously inventive page-turner, a shaggy (and Scooby) dog story that deserves a wider audience, whether it is eventually turned into a film or not. Yes, it's light. No, it's not up there among Pynchon's greatest books. But it's probably his funniest book, and exhibits more fully than ever before, his late-period largeness of heart. This book has good vibes.

John Carvill. "The 'Bong' Goodbye: On Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice." Bright Lights Film Journal 65 (August 2009). Complete review.