- 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!).
More info at Inherent Vice cover analysis
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.
Just south of Hollywood, and one of the most desirable locations in Los Angeles. Hancock Park was developed by the Hancock family and is named after developer-philanthropist G. Allan Hancock, with profits earned from oil drilling in the former Rancho La Brea, home of the famous tar pits. Wikipedia
Evelle Jansen Younger, District Attorney of Los Angeles County 1964-1971, Attorney General of California from 1971-1979. Wikipedia
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."