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Inherent Vice: A Novel

Inherent Vice: A Novel
Author: Thomas Pynchon
ISBN 13: 9780143117568
ISBN 10: 143117564
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2010-07-27
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
List Price: $17.00

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L. A. fog.

The Washington Post - Michael Dirda

For more than 45 years, Thomas Pynchon has been the hidden god of modern letters, rarely photographed, never interviewed, but nonetheless revered and worshiped, his name pronounced by the devoted with a hiccup of pure awe: Thomas, gulp, Pynchon. Fans even collect the few books for which he has given a dust-jacket blurb. Every word of the Master is precious. Nonetheless, Pynchon has often been -- at least until "Inherent Vice" -- a writer more admired than loved. Such imposing epics as "Gravity's Rainbow," "Mason & Dixon" and the recent "Against the Day" daunt even the most rugged readers. Assaults on such Everests require not only the usual climbing gear -- pitons and belaying ropes and what all -- but also oxygen canisters and Sherpa guides, as well. These majestic works are more than worth the effort, but they aren't what most people would call page-turners or comfort books. Which is just what "Inherent Vice" is. Imagine the cult film "The Big Lebowski" as a novel, with touches of "Chinatown" and "L.A. Confidential" thrown in for good measure. Imagine your favorite Raymond Chandler or James Crumley mystery retold as a hippie whodunit, set in Gordita Beach, Calif., at the very end of the 1960s. Imagine a great American novelist, one who is now a septuagenarian, writing with all the vivacity and bounce of a young man who has just discovered girls. Most of all, imagine sentences and scenes that are so much fun to read that you wish "Inherent Vice" were twice as long as it is. Imagine saying that about a Thomas Pynchon novel....

"Inherent Vice" may not be the Great American Novel, but it's certainly a Great American Read -- a terrific pastiche of California noir, wonderfully amusing throughout (and hard to quote from in a family newspaper because of the frequent use of, uh, colorful spoken language) and a poignant evocation of the last flowering of the '60s, just before everything changed and passed into myth or memory: "Sunrise was on the way, the bars were just closed or closing, out in front of Wavos everybody was either at the tables along the sidewalk, sleeping with their heads on Health Waffles or in bowls of vegetarian chili, or being sick in the street, causing small-motorcycle traffic to skid in the vomit and so forth. It was late winter in Gordita."