- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
"Inherent Vice" has a number of meanings. See Inherent Vice Title
The cover illustration is by Maui artist Darshan Zenith (see his Official site). The piece is called "Eternal Summer," and subtitled, "A 'Retired' Caddy Hearse Greets Daybreak at a Beach Surf Shop." Prints of the painting can be purchased here. The 1959 Cadillac Hearse is parked in front of the "Endless Summer Surf Shop" (namechecking the Beach Boys Greatest Hits collection and Bruce Brown's 1966 surfing documentary!).
Apparently, Pynchon was searching the Web for the right image for the Inherent Vice cover, found the Cruiser Art website and the "Caddy Hearse" piece, and wanted to use it. [source?] Penguin contacted Cruiser Art and obtained the appropriate permissions. Darren Haggar is Penguin's art director for this project.
The way Darshan creates his pieces is quite interesting. He paints only the background of the image (the sky, sea, palm trees &c.) and scans the painting into his computer. He then uses 1:18-scale metal diecast models of the cars, photographed against a white background, and loads the digital photo into the computer. From this point on, it's all Photoshop, integrating the car image into the background painting, and then creating the details with Photoshop tools. So the final work is a digital creation, and there is no original painting of the work. I was told that the basic structure of the surf shack was also part of the original painting for the Caddy Hearse piece. Also, Darshan apparently had the 1966 Bruce Brown film in mind when naming the shack "Endless Summer."
Update: Cruiser Art sent along a link to the same model they used for the painting, now on sale on eBay. It's a 1959 Cadillac Crown Royal Limousine Style Hearse. Steve Rummel, Darshan's business partner, adds: "We painted the landau top white. Notice it comes complete with a casket, but we couldn't figure any way to use it."
Book jacket description
Pynchon himself wrote the copy to the book jacket description of Against the Day (text here). It is possible that Pynchon did the same for Inherent Vice.
Under the paving-stones, the beach!
"Sous les pavés, la plage" - slogan dating from the 1968 Paris student riots. Wikipedia Literally, it refers to the paving stones thrown at the police. Figuratively, it refers to the ideal life to be found beneath the confines of society.
Like Against the Day, Inherent Vice has no dedication. Pynchon dedicated previous novels to friends and family: Mason & Dixon ("For Melanie, and for Jackson"), Vineland ("For my mother and father"), and Gravity's Rainbow ("For Richard Fariña").
Country Joe & the Fish T-shirt
A Berkeley-based rock band most widely known for musical protests against the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1971
Shasta is a soft drink brand that reached the peak of its popularity in the 1980s. Wikipedia. Note that Pynchon has named characters after soda before, e.g. Wicks Cherrycoke in Mason & Dixon.
Shasta is also the name of a town in northern California, near Redding. Google Maps
They stood in the street light through the kitchen window there'd never been much point in putting curtains over and listened to the thumping of the surf from down the hill. Some nights, when the wind was right, you could hear the surf all over town.
Like Vineland, and Gravity's Rainbow, here a Pynchon book begins with light coming through a window. Also like Vineland, the sentence structure and rhythm is just slightly jarring - that '...in the street light through the kitchen window...' seeming to echo Vineland: "Later than usual one summer morning in 1984, Zoyd Wheeler drifted awake in sunlight through a creeping fig that hung in the window, with a squadron of blue jays stomping around on the roof." In both cases, it's just a little odd that Pynchon doesn't refer to the light 'that shone' through the window.
1959 Cadillac Biarritz
a luxury version of the Eldorado. Wikipedia.
Hunter S. Thompson ran unsuccessfully for mayor and sheriff of Aspen, Colorado in 1969 and 1970. Wikipedia Unsure if "freak power" was a term Thompson coined?
Pynchon apparently wrote a letter to his editor, Cork Smith, in the 1960s saying that he was working on two books: one on Mason & Dixon, and one loosely inspired by Godzilla. See Crying of Lot 49 Chapter 3].
wasn't that they were fucking, exactly, but it was something like that.
This sentence structure is a Pynchon trademark found throughout his works: "not X, exactly, but Y..." For instance, Gravity's Rainbow, pg 137: "...you begin to wait for something terrible-- not exactly an air raid but something close to that."; Gravity's Rainbow, pg 580: "Not as an enterprise, exactly, but at least in the dance of things."