Difference between revisions of "Inherent Vice Reviews"

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[[image:sportello_tatiana-suarez.jpg|caption|Illustration: Tatiana Suarez, for ''The Village Voice''|thumb|right|250px]]
[[image:sportello_tatiana-suarez.jpg|caption|Illustration: Tatiana Suarez, for ''The Village Voice''|thumb|right|250px]]
'''08/16/09''' - [http://www.projo.com/books/content/BOOK-PYNCHON_08-16-09_2KFAQM6_v12.f789f5.html '''Providence Journal'''] Sam Coale: "Ah, but the Sixties are dying. The pre-revolution’s crumbling. Paranoia’s thriving. Nixon’s president. Sharon Tate’s dead. Charlie Manson’s been arrested. Ah, them Sixties: “this little parenthesis of light, might close after all, and all be lost, taken back into darkness...” Nostalgic haze mixes with a marijuana-induced miasma in Pynchon territory. Inherent vice is a term used by marine insurance companies, sort of like original sin: “It’s what you can’t avoid.” Many of us won’t. We’re still living off the sweet fumes." [http://www.projo.com/books/content/BOOK-PYNCHON_08-16-09_2KFAQM6_v12.f789f5.html Entire review »]
'''08/15/09''' - [http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/afterword/archive/2009/08/15/book-review-inherent-vice-by-thomas-pynchon.aspx '''National Post'''] Tim Jacobs: "Even through this melancholy, ''Inherent Vice'', like his other novels, offers silly fun and songs galore. Goofy characters abound with trademark Pynchonian names like Puck Beaverton and Vincent Indelicato. Doc enjoys peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches and a character unknowingly wears a pizza on his head. Then there are the goofy acronyms: Heroin Users’ Liberation Kollective (HULK), Warriors Against the Man Black Armed Militia (WAMBAM) and Bong Users’ Revolutionary Brigades (BURBs). Pynchon does his best to make it all fun, but Doc still can’t shake his funk as his era fades." [http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/afterword/archive/2009/08/15/book-review-inherent-vice-by-thomas-pynchon.aspx Entire review »]
'''08/15/09''' - [http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/afterword/archive/2009/08/15/book-review-inherent-vice-by-thomas-pynchon.aspx '''National Post'''] Tim Jacobs: "Even through this melancholy, ''Inherent Vice'', like his other novels, offers silly fun and songs galore. Goofy characters abound with trademark Pynchonian names like Puck Beaverton and Vincent Indelicato. Doc enjoys peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches and a character unknowingly wears a pizza on his head. Then there are the goofy acronyms: Heroin Users’ Liberation Kollective (HULK), Warriors Against the Man Black Armed Militia (WAMBAM) and Bong Users’ Revolutionary Brigades (BURBs). Pynchon does his best to make it all fun, but Doc still can’t shake his funk as his era fades." [http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/afterword/archive/2009/08/15/book-review-inherent-vice-by-thomas-pynchon.aspx Entire review »]

Revision as of 07:51, 16 August 2009

Review aggregators

The Complete Review
The New York Times: Reviewing Thomas Pynchon...


Please add any relevant reviews as they come in. Blog reviews are fine as long as they're substantial and more than a few paragraphs.

Illustration: Tatiana Suarez, for The Village Voice

08/16/09 - Providence Journal Sam Coale: "Ah, but the Sixties are dying. The pre-revolution’s crumbling. Paranoia’s thriving. Nixon’s president. Sharon Tate’s dead. Charlie Manson’s been arrested. Ah, them Sixties: “this little parenthesis of light, might close after all, and all be lost, taken back into darkness...” Nostalgic haze mixes with a marijuana-induced miasma in Pynchon territory. Inherent vice is a term used by marine insurance companies, sort of like original sin: “It’s what you can’t avoid.” Many of us won’t. We’re still living off the sweet fumes." Entire review »

08/15/09 - National Post Tim Jacobs: "Even through this melancholy, Inherent Vice, like his other novels, offers silly fun and songs galore. Goofy characters abound with trademark Pynchonian names like Puck Beaverton and Vincent Indelicato. Doc enjoys peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches and a character unknowingly wears a pizza on his head. Then there are the goofy acronyms: Heroin Users’ Liberation Kollective (HULK), Warriors Against the Man Black Armed Militia (WAMBAM) and Bong Users’ Revolutionary Brigades (BURBs). Pynchon does his best to make it all fun, but Doc still can’t shake his funk as his era fades." Entire review »

08/12/09 - USA Today Carol Memmott: "Readers may not always be clear about what's going on, but that's no crime. Most of the characters are high all the time and aren't sure either. Doc, interviewing suspects and witnesses, sometimes wonders, "Did I say that out loud?" More pressing matters for Vice's characters include wondering why there's "Chicken of the Sea but no Tuna of the Farm" and "trying to remember where the glue is on the Zig-Zag paper." If you think you don't possess the patience or the gray matter to "get" a Pynchon novel, Vice is for you. This reader would go so far as to call it a beach read." Entire review »

08/09/09 - Washington Times Christian Toto: "The author wraps his serio-comic story in a relatively conventional fashion, but it's a testament to his narrative control that he could steer the tale toward a satisfying finale. In the end, "Inherent Vice" emerges as a deeply cynical yet amusing snapshot of the Woodstock generation's final days in the sun." Entire review »

08/09/09 - New York Post Kyle Smith: "In the three novels that made his reputation — "V.," "The Crying of Lot 49" and the National Book Award winner "Gravity's Rainbow" — Thomas Pynchon used his electric imagination to whip paranoid conspiracies into a froth that bubbled with dread and comedy. Now it's four books later and his fictive powers suggest not tour de force but Tourette's." Entire review »

08/09/09 - Philadelphia Inquirer David Hiltbrand: "Literary stoner detectives have been with us almost as long as bongs. A giddy early example was Moses Wine in Roger Simon's 1973 book The Big Fix. Following in that tradition, Inherent Vice's Doc doesn't so much investigate as he does connect the dots swirling in front of his eyes. He is, like Tyrone Slothrop, the protagonist in Pynchon's masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow, a passive but jaunty hero." Entire review »

08/09/09 - St. Petersburg Times Colette Bancroft: "When you think about it, the tough detective novel is a natural form for Pynchon, given his longtime fictional obsessions with quests, paranoia and conspiracy, and the true nature of the American character. Inherent Vice makes rich use of the genre, as well as giving Pynchon plenty of opportunity for groaner puns and his beloved shaggy dog jokes (wait till you see what he does with Job 28:18), plus great swaths of flat-out beautiful, lyrical writing. And, despite its twist-and-turn plot, this is the most linear book Pynchon has ever published." Entire review »

08/09/09 - The Independent Thomas Leveritt: "Pynchon is both the US's most serious and most funny writer. With his most accessible book to date – half Chinatown, half Fear and Loathing, all searing jeremiad about the modern American soul – he may have come up with something even the British literati can read." Entire review »

08/08/09 - Contra Costa Times Gene Maddaus: "There are also references to local history, including a riff on Gordita Beach's troubled past. Egged on by the Ku Klux Klan, locals are said to have burned a black family's house to the ground and then confiscated the land for a local park. That seems to be a clear reference to Bruce's Beach, which was a black resort until the city of Manhattan Beach seized it in 1924 and turned it into a park. According to local historian Jan Dennis, there was an active local chapter of the KKK and black-owned homes were often torched." Entire review »

08/08/09 - Independent.ie John Boland: "Here's a first — a Thomas Pynchon novel that you can actually read and understand. In his 73rd year, the reclusive author who has furrowed the collective brow of generations of literary students with his dense, complex and often baffling fiction has finally come up with a genial and almost entirely comprehensible shaggy dog story in the form of a crime novel." Entire review »

08/07/09 - The San Francisco Chronicle Alan Cheuse: "If that wit appeals to you, then you're on the same wavelength - and height - of "Inherent Vice," the title of which, by the way, comes from a term out of the marine insurance business that describes breakage and damage you just can't avoid. Which reminded me of William Burroughs' definition of "Naked Lunch" as what you see on the end of your fork as you're raising it to your mouth, or Joyce's "ineluctable modality of the visible" in "Ulysses" - "what you damned well have to see." Pretty good for a minor Pynchon to conjure up the memory of those two books, yes? Or have I just been smoking?" Entire review »

08/07/09 - The Wall Street Journal Joseph Bottum: "Such confusion may be a deliberate narrative ­technique. Doc is so stoned most of the time that it is amazing that he manages to keep anything straight. But somehow, out of all the confusing threads, the ­detective’s investigation begins to weave something ­interesting in the last quarter of the book. It’s a pretty strange bit of fabric Mr. Pynchon ends up with—a kind of ­paranoid blanket, embroidered with conspiracy ­theories—but it manages to cover the mystery ­elements and put the story to bed in reasonable shape." Entire review »

08/06/09 - Newsday John Anderson: "Raymond Chandler meets Panama Red in Thomas Pynchon's casual, occasionally hilarious "Inherent Vice" - which makes sense for an author whose works can be measured in kilos (especially the last two, "Mason & Dixon" and "Against the Day"). It also makes sense for an author whose work has long married the perversely dystopic to the poetically giddy, with the same cosmic unease with which louche noir detectives have long found a home under the insistent Los Angeles sun." Entire review »

08/06-12/09 - Time Out New York Joshua Rothkopf: "Quickly, the novel grabs you in a sexier way than anything since The Crying of Lot 49, but with its familiar post-Chinatown structure (and an inevitable doozy of a conspiracy) comes an undeniable lightness. Heroin deals and loan sharks come as an underwhelming conclusion from a book that intimates a deeper social indictment; the heaviest it gets here is a Palo Verdes community dad leaning in and insisting to Doc, “We’re in place.” Still, the welcome vibe of the novel has the feeling of cruising around suburbs on a warm night; it may become an L.A. classic." Entire review »

08/06/09 - Washington Post Michael Dirda: "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." Entire review »

08/05/09 - The Eye Weekly Brian Joseph Davis: "Given that quick rundown, you may detect a hashy whiff of The Big Lebowski (and its source text, Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye), but Pynchon uses no protective irony in regard to telling a mystery set in the counterculture. Almost every character is high — and there are pages where you feel high with them, drifting along before snapping back and exclaiming, “oh yeah, I totally get it” — but Pynchon is almost always in control. Every other line is either deadpan funny or sublimely strange, yet doesn’t detract from Sportello’s quest." Entire review »

08/09 - Bright Lights Film Journal John Carvill: "Think of it this way: if Gravity's Rainbow resembles a week-long acid binge, Inherent Vice is more like a single, perfectly rolled joint. On almost every page, there is something truly remarkable; again and again, Pynchon throws out an unexpected turn of phrase, a perfectly pitched joke, or a dazzlingly beautiful image. Each one of these takes root in your mind, where they ripen and bloom like kernels of psychedelic popcorn. You finish Inherent Vice and your first instinct is to flip back to the start and enjoy it all over again. It brings to mind what Oscar Wilde said in praise of one of his favourite vices, the cigarette: "A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?" " Entire review »

08/04/09 - The Village Voice Zach Baron: "Like Vineland's Zoyd Wheeler (with whom Doc's cousin once played in a band), Doc is eventually forced to discover that though love itself endures, free-love most definitely does not. Already there's the prospect, in the high, 1970 summer of both Willis Reed and Charles Manson, that "a certain hand might reach terribly out of darkness and reclaim the time, easy as taking a joint from a doper and stubbing it out for good." Which, if you know the rest of the sad, Nixonite story, is exactly what ended up happening. Bummer, man." Entire review »

08/04/09 - Christian Science Monitor Carlo Wolff: "I suspect that he wrote “Inherent Vice” in hopes of aligning himself with today’s readers; I don’t feel he invested much in his characters, who rarely transcend cartoon level. He already has set up an “Inherent Vice” wiki, a kind of online index with which to track the characters. This will launch on the date of publication in early August, modernizing a book that, despite its hipness and creativity, feels strangely old-fashioned. It will join other wikis dedicated to his novels, nurturing a sense of community under the banner of metafiction." Entire review »

08/04/09 - Flavorwire: Reviewing the Reviewers Heather Schwedel: "Thomas Pynchon’s new novel officially comes out today, and it seems like every book critic in the world has already weighed in. The debate over the book’s merits reminds us of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Inherent Vice is a detective noir set in ’70s L.A.; the Times calls it Pynchon Lite, but the Wall Street Journal wonders if the book could actually be “a classic Pynchon opus masquerading as a light read.”" Entire review »

08/04/09 - Slate Jonathan Rosenbaum: "In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there … or … if you were there, then you … or, wait, is it …" Once again, for his seventh novel, Inherent Vice, it sounds as if the author has furnished his own jacket copy, exploiting the doper humor that's often been part of his signature." Entire review »

08/03/09 - Washington Post Craig Seligman: "All of which suggests a cold, dark novel -- but as it happens “Inherent Vice” is Pynchon’s sunniest book. He may not have lost his pessimism, but the lethal intensity of the novels he was writing in his 20s and 30s, when his own future was still uncertain, has disappeared. And that’s a problem. For all the corruption and violence and evil that Doc turns up along the way, it never feels like very much is really at stake. The book begins to seem long." Entire review »

08/03/09 - Rolling Stone Rob Sheffield: "Inherent Vice is the funniest book Pynchon has written. It's also a crazed and majestic summary of everything that makes him a uniquely huge American voice. It has the moral fury that's fueled his work from the start — his ferociously batshit compassion for America and the lost tribes who wander through it. A master of pastiche, Pynchon is working this time in the mode of the hard-boiled detective novel à la Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, although it's more like a hard-boiled egg scrambled during a late-night munchies attack —" Entire review »

08/03/09 - The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani: "If “Vineland” read like a user-friendly companion piece to “The Crying of Lot 49,” then “Inherent Vice” reads like a workmanlike improvisation on “Vineland.” Once again the plot is propelled by a search for a missing woman, a former hippie who consorted with an incongruous representative of the capitalistic power grid. And once again there are efforts by the powers-that-be to turn hippies and potheads to the dark side, to turn them into informants through re-education programs or the enticement of money." Entire review »

08/03/09 - The New Yorker - Louis Menand: "Pynchon’s capacity for goofball invention is limitless. A list of characters’ names, drastically abridged, might be enough to suggest the variety, and also the relative fineness, of the narrative texture: Ensenada Slim, Flaco the Bad, Dr. Buddy Tubeside, Petunia Leeway, Jason Velveeta, Scott Oof, Sledge Poteet, Leonard Jermaine Loosemeat (a.k.a. El Drano, anagram of Leonard), Delwyn Quight, and Trillium Fortnight. Not overly fine, in other words. Plotwise, there are probably too many pieces of the puzzle to hold in your head, and it’s not completely clear where, or whether, every piece fits. But that, too, is standard business procedure in the form. Despite Chandler’s demand for greater realism, his own plots could be pretty far-fetched, and they’re not always coherent, either. When Howard Hawks was shooting the film adaptation of “The Big Sleep,” he got in touch with Chandler to ask who was supposed to have killed one of the characters, a chauffeur. Chandler was embarrassed to say he didn’t know." Entire review »

08/03/09 - The Buffalo News - Jeff Simon: "Lest anyone think “Inherent Vice” isn’t deeply Pynchonesque from its opening sentence (“She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to”), you’ll be immediately disabused of that notion by going back to his amazing first novel “V.,” whose protagonist Benny Profane “schlemiel and human yo-yo” is clearly an East Coast forerunner of “Inherent Vice’s” Doc Sportello. Pynchon’s new protagonist is a short, 1970 hippie and private eye who lives near “Gordita” (read Manhattan) beach in L. A. (shades of Jim Rockford and Harry Orwell), has long hair, smokes every joint he can lay lips on and has no trouble doing a few lines of coke, too, just to be sociable." Entire review »

08/02/09 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Bob Hoover: "Pynchon is brimming over with asides like that one, chucklers that make "Inherent Vice" great entertainment. But, perhaps I need to reconsider, taking into account the man's reputation in some quarters as an American genius. Could his new book really be a symbol-filled allegory about the nature of the modern novel, a Nabokovian joke about fiction and its ultimate meaning? Sounds like I've been smoking some heavy-duty stuff, too. Naw, I think Pynchon's just having a blast, and we are lucky to join in." Entire review »

08/02/09 - New York Magazine - Sam Anderson: "Pynchon has always been a cartoonist: He specializes in simplification, exaggeration, and brightly colored types. This means that, paradoxically, his wildest invention occurs right at the edge of cliché. He may have finally fallen over that edge. His types, after 45 years, have themselves become types. The characters in Inherent Vice are not only paranoid, they walk around constantly talking about their paranoia. Aside from the dopily lovable Doc, everyone is just the standard tangle of phonemes attached to a Pynchonesque hobbyhorse: computers, threesomes, chocolate-covered frozen bananas. Switch those hobbyhorses around and you don’t lose much." Entire review »

08/02/09 -BlogCritics - Ted Gioia: "The small details are half the fun here. For no extra charge, the reader is given a new interpretation of the Japanese movie Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) which explicates it as a reworking of Roman Holiday (1953) — full disclosure: I still can't decide whether Ghidrah is supposed to be Audrey Hepburn or Gregory Peck. We find Henry Kissinger on the Today show, formulating foreign policy: "Vell, den, ve schould chust bombp dem, schouldn't ve?" We learn about a Beverly Hills auto collision repair shop called The Resurrection of the Body. And we find a health food joint off Melrose called The Price of Wisdom, which is located upstairs from Ruby's Lounge — but you will need to check out Job 28:18 to figure that one out." Entire review »

08/02/09 -Los Angeles Times - Carolyn Kellogg: "Still, after getting pretty far out, "Inherent Vice" eventually circles back and ties up all its loose ends. It has a climactic moment, a cushiony denouement -- by gum, closure. If this stands in counterpoint to Pynchon's most acclaimed work, perhaps we should pay heed to the novel's title: "Inherent Vice" refers to a hidden defect that undermines a property's worth, a marine-legal term for a Shakespearean flaw. It could refer to Los Angeles; it could refer to the 1960s. Or it could refer to the author's work itself: With Pynchon's brilliance comes readability." Entire review »

08/02/09 -The Boston Globe - Richard Eder: "The hopes are recalled, reconstituted, and chastened in “Inherent Vice’’ and so are the ’70s shadows that overtook them. As for the beach, in California, it is restricted in some places, turned tawdry in others; though with beauty enough along large stretches, surfboarding still, and lots of bicycling." Entire review »

08/02/09 -TheStar.com - Alex Good: "Inherent Vice is also nostalgic in that it takes us back to earlier Pynchon: the tangled intersection of politics, technology, and paranoia, a landscape of secret societies (here it's the Golden Fang or Chryskylodon) and submerged continents. Of course, there's lots of sinister slapstick involving perversely unmusical song lyrics and a bewildering cast of characters with such silly names as Sauncho Smilax, Bigfoot Bjornsen, Japonica Fenway, Special FBI Agents Flatweed and Borderline and sexy stewardesses Motella and Lourdes." Entire review »

08/01/09 -The Guardian - Christopher Tayler: "Behind a lot of Pynchon's complication, there's a simple sadness about lost possibilities and the things that America chooses to do to itself. It's expressed in the closing vision of Californian exurbia in The Crying of Lot 49, and it's here too in Doc's wish, on a misty freeway, "for the fog to burn away, and for something else this time, somehow, to be there instead". Sometimes, reading the book, I found myself wondering if Pynchon, of all people, hadn't undersold the era's apocalyptic paranoia. You get a much stronger sense of fear and confusion from Joan Didion's The White Album or Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers - more conservative books in some ways, but also more beady-eyed about the myths of the 60s." Entire review »

08/01/09 -Chicago Tribune - Art Winslow: "We find ourselves on a cultural tour that is alien and not. The real and fictional points of interest include the Aryan Brotherhood, a right-wing paramilitary auxiliary to the police department, groups such as the Bong Users' Revolutionary Brigades and Warriors Against the Black Man Armed Militia, heroin traffickers, ARPAnet (a precursor of the Internet), FBI agents named Fleetwood and Borderline, U.S. currency with Nixon's face on it, Chick Planet Massage, lost continents, zombie flicks, surf-music bands, Wyatt Earp's mug with its mustache protector, Dagwood and Yosemite Sam, and period television shows from "The Flying Nun" and "Adam-12" to "Dark Shadows" and "Gilligan's Island." Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll abound." Entire review »

08/01/09 -Time Magazine - Richard Lacayo: "And speaking of Leonard, Inherent Vice is like nothing so much as an Elmore Leonard novel with metaphysical aims. It has the same deadpan dialogue, the same lowlife panache, the same Venice Beach–to–Vegas locales that Leonard has touched down in. But the earthbound author of Get Shorty doesn't go in for Pynchon's lyrical riffs about the immemorial forces that pull the world's secret levers and keep the dispossessed of all kinds — the poor, the nonwhite, the nonconforming — from coming into their own." Entire review »

07/31/09 -BBC - Paul Mason: "Said observed that the late style artist typically "abandons communication with the established social order of which he is a part and achieves a contradictory, alienated relationship with it". But Pynchon doesn't need to: he achieved that long ago. This late turn in his literary style achieves something opposite but equally surprising. It is a move towards form, and closed form at that, towards genre, and towards communication. And it is a move away from subtext." Entire review »

07/31/09 -Salon.com - Laura Miller: "Hard-boiled detective fiction may not seem like the ideal vehicle for the often cryptic style and subject matter of Thomas Pynchon, but his newest novel proves otherwise. An account of the adventures of a hippie private eye pursuing assorted nonlucrative commissions in a Southern California beach town around 1970, "Inherent Vice" is a sun-struck, pot-addled shaggy dog story that fuses the sulky skepticism of Raymond Chandler with the good-natured scrappiness of "The Big Lebowski." It's an inspired formula; the mystery plot supplies the novel with a minimum of structure (as well as confidence that there's some point to the enterprise) and the genre provides ample cover for Pynchon's literary weaknesses." Entire review.

07/31/09 -CounterPunch - Alan Cabal: "It’s a hugely comic novel that ends on a wistful, tragic note lost in the fog, out on the freeway, the procession of the preterite, not sure where they’re going, not sure where they are. It’s a love letter to the Sixties, a wake, an elegy to doomed aspirations and thwarted idealism, but it speaks to our present condition directly and clearly, with an open heart. Nobody does it better." Entire review »

07/31/09 -The Independent (UK) - Andy Martin: "Inherent Vice is Pynchon's hymn to the Sixties, both homage and lament. In the novel we are at the end of the long Sixties, when the Manson gang have already sliced up Sharon Tate, the US military is still napalming Vietnam, and the West Coast counter-culture is suffering from an immense post-coital depression and hangover." Entire review »

07/30/09 -OregonLive - Vernon Peterson: "But something more serious is the underlying theme of "Inherent Vice." Southern California, America's leading edge and symbol, is not a promise of paradise gone sour. This Eden had a fatal flaw from the beginning. Real estate, a persistent theme in Pynchon's American stories, "Against the Day," "Mason & Dixon," "Vineland" and "The Crying of Lot 49," is the herald of New World doom. The empire has been built on the graves of Native Americans, dispossessed and nearly annihilated from one coast to the other." Entire review »

07/30/09 -New Statesman - David Flusfeder: "The tropes of the hard-boiled genre are here: a detective with a half-mended heart and a propensity to be beaten unconscious at crime scenes; a quest to track the missing; a rich folks' nuthouse; the corrupt LAPD. But whereas Chandler once admitted that whenever he didn't know how to advance his plot, he'd have a man walk through a doorway holding a gun, Pynchon just has his detective fire up another joint. It is in the moments away from the stoned haze of plot that this book is at its best. The sentences have their stately beauty, and Pynchon is poignantly good on the heartsick detective, his "lovelorn rectogenital throb"." Entire review »

07/29/09 - Metro.co.uk - Alan Chadwick: "Best of all, however, is the way Pynchon maps the psycho-geography and shifting sociopolitical sands of America at the time (drugs; the widening gulf between 'straight life' and counterculture; paranoia; and secret information)." Entire review »

07/28/09 - The Stranger - Paul Constant: "Beneath it all, surfacing sporadically like a cheap serial villain, is the nascent internet, which in the late '60s was called the ARPAnet. One of Doc's friends introduces him to the prototypical World Wide Web, and he increasingly relies on it for information. He wonders why "they"—the men he's positive rule the world from a smoke-filled room—don't make it illegal, the way "they" criminalized acid. Pynchon, doing some of the nimblest, most whimsical work of his career, doesn't provide the answer to that mystery, or many of the mysteries in Vice for that matter, but he shares his infectious excitement about living in a world full of useless, beautiful ideas. For Pynchon, it's not the truth but the search for the truth that matters." Entire review »

07/28/09 - The Boston Phoenix - Peter Keough: "So it's a long way around the block for little reward. And though it's true that Pynchon never pays off in terms of closure or neatly resolved meaning (that being the point), in Inherent Vice, ambiguity deteriorates into inanity. He's either trying too hard or not hard enough. Okay, you could scarcely expect another densely woven, absurdist masterpiece so soon after 2006's magnum opus, Against the Day, which at nearly 1100 pages weighed in as Pynchon's heaviest tome to date. Then again, Lot 49 came out only three years after his groundbreaking debut, V." Entire review »

07/27/09 - guardian.co.uk | Creative Loafing - Cooper Levey-Baker: "But despite its uncharacteristic focus and brevity, it’s clear from sentence structure alone that Inherent Vice could have only sprung from the pen of Thomas Pynchon. One early sentence describing an LA dry spell goes like this: “In the little apartment complexes the wind entered narrowing to whistle through the stairwells and ramps and catwalks, and the leaves of the palm trees outside rattled together with a liquid sound, so that from inside, in the darkened rooms, in louvered light, it sounded like a rainstorm, the wind raging in the concrete geometry, the palms beating together like the rush of a tropical downpour, enough to get you to open the door and look outside, and of course there’d only be the same hot cloudless depth of day, no rain in sight." Entire review »

07/26/09 - guardian.co.uk | TheObserver - Sarah Churchwell: "Like many a Pynchon protagonist before him, Sportello is on a doomed quest. Pynchon's novels are always more or less picaresque journeys; his characters travel perpetually, but rarely arrive anywhere meaningful. What Gravity's Rainbow calls "the terrible politics of the Grail" means that quests in Pynchon are inevitable and also inevitable failures. At best, they will be mock-heroic; at worst, they will be tragic, but they will never succeed. Inherent Vice may be Pynchon's most overtly nostalgic book, featuring a character overcome by a longing he pretends to shrug off." Entire review »

07/24/09 - Telegraph.co.uk - Tim Martin: "Unlike much of Pynchon’s other work, however, Inherent Vice wears its learning lightly, intermixing it with dialogue that zings, jokes that never overstay their welcome and a stream of hilariously bad puns and wickedly acute observations. Who would have thought it? One of America’s most wilful and obscure writers has produced the most enjoyable beach read of the summer." Entire review »

07/06/09 - Publishers Weekly - David Kipen: "Pynchon sets his new novel in and around Gordita Beach, a mythical surfside paradise named for all the things his PI hero, Larry “Doc” Sportello, loves best: nonnutritious foods, healthy babies, curvaceous femme fatales. We’re in early-’70s 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’s recurring tragicomedy of America as the perfect wave that got away." Entire review »

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