Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice

by Thomas Pynchon

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Inherent Vice 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
A hippie PI back in the good old days when dope was rampant along the beach and everybody was always willing to get high is the star of Inherent Vice. Best read under the spell of LSD, Thomas Pynchon's detective novel meanders along with its unique observations, colorful characters, and well, there's a plot, too. Right, dude. You see, bad guys are doing bad things, and many people, including good guys are caught up in the bad things. Who could you trust more to look into these things than a doped up hippie PI? The book is best read with little expectations, so, when you get into it, you will laugh out loud as I did at the dry humor, be puzzled by the constantly changing cast of characters and the re-spinning of facts that you thought you knew already. Then, just about when you think the trip is ending, there's a final ride to be had. Who are you going to trust? The facts or the dope?
neanderthal78 More than 1 year ago
If you are already down with Thomas Pynchon (had to throw in some slang) then please ignore this first part. Pynchon's works can be a maze of obscure history and twisting plots. Some of his books are best read with a companion guide. But this book...well it stands fine on its own and is a great gateway into the strange world of Thomas Pynchon. Pynchon is my all time favorite author and a man I think deserves all the praise he receives. His newest tale is pretty cool and one that will be a sure fire hit with fans of the 60's counter culture and/or detective novels. The only complaint that I have is that at certain times the plot seemed to drag a bit for me. Not that I would cut down his work but there seemed some parts that just were there for the sake of being there. Maybe that's just my take. I did love the plot and some of the bizarre images that Mr. Pynchon delivers (The Godzilligan Island part had me rolling). Over all it was a good read with some neat just wasn't my favorite of his. But there already is a "V" and "Gravities Rainbow" so there's no point in him pulling and AC/DC and putting out the same product over and over again. If you read this Mr. Pynchon...good job. P.S. Does anyone else hear Tommy Chong as the voice of Doc?
sandiek More than 1 year ago
Did you miss the whole '60's scene? The hippie, wanna-be-free feeling of beachfront California? Fear not. Readers can revisit this environment in Thomas Pynchon's book, Inherent Vice. Pynchon fans will recognize his style here; a rambling story that meanders from cultural icon to cultural icon, taking the reader along to whatever destination Pynchon has in mind, entertaining them along the way. Inherent Vice is the story of Doc Sportello, a private investigator who spends as little time working as he can get by on. He is visited by his ex-girlfriend, Shasta, who wants Doc to find her new boyfriend who seems to have disappeared. In the process of unraveling this mystery, Doc leads the reader through the discovery of the Internet, beach/surf music, a diabolical Eastern drug cartel, various right-wing thugs working for governmental or police agencies, Las Vegas before it was turned into Disneyland West, tons of marijuana smoking, lots of sex, and plenty of dubious characters. The whole chaotic journey devolves into a satisfactory conclusion where all the puzzles are solved and the good guys prevail. This book is recommended for all readers. Pynchon is an American treasure, one of the authors whose work will be read far into the future. His keen eye notes the details that make up a culture while his style entertains. Pynchon fans will be pleased with this book, and those who haven't yet discovered this author will be pleasantly surprised.
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
I have not read any Pynchon in a while. I read Mason and Dixon when it was new, and I was not too impressed by that. And, that was over ten years ago? I read V and Gravity's Rainbow, and Crying of Lot 49 in the 70's. So, it is difficult for me to compare this to his other works. But, my general feel is that is a typical Pynchon crazy-quilt of a book. Very inventive plot and filled with popular culture references - music (particularly surfer music), films (the main character is a huge John Garfield fan) and TV (many referrals to the standard network series of the time). This takes place in 1969, in post-Sharon Tate murder Los Angeles. Doc Sportello is a private eye, and he is initially approached by an old girl friend who is now involved with a real estate developer. She is afraid is that he about to be involuntarily committed by his wife, or worse. Then, Doc is hired by a woman who's husband was reported to have died in a drug overdose, but she believes that he is still alive. While investigating these two cases, Doc gets stuck in the middle of an intricate web of nefarious activity revolving around a secret syndicate of some sort called the Golden Fang and perhaps the LAPD. Not everyone will be taken in by this book. But, I love Pynchon's sense of humor and identify with Doc's penchant for constantly getting high.
M48 More than 1 year ago
I had a great deal of difficulty making it through the book. Pynchon writes in a scattered doper style, and tries to portend the future of the internet by giving one character access to ARPANET and enabling it with Google-like abilities. The book is good for a door stop and that is about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast, crazy, outrageous, funny. Lot's of characters to track. It's a lot of fun to read
chorn369 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pynchon captures the zeitgeist of the early 1970s Los Angeles in a serpentine, drug-addled, noir "hippie" procedural--- as opposed to "police procedural." Doc, the pot-smoking sole owner and detective of LSD investigations (locating, surveillance and detection) is asked by his former girlfriend, Shasta, to find her current lover, an unscrupulous land developer with ties to a meth-dealing white supremacist biker gang. Also pursuing the disappearance of the developer is LAPD detective "Bigfoot" Bjorensen who moonlights as a schlock TV actor and whose attempts to harass Doc are straight out of, well, schlock TV cop shows.I was a young adolescent in the areas of Los Angeles that much of the book takes place--that is, the decidedly unglamorous Torrance and eastern suburbs, and I tell you the Pynchon nails the salient details that remain vivid after imprinting in my febrile teenage mind. Doc lives in an unglamorous beach town (possibly Dogtown, a once dilapidated area between Santa Monica and Venice) and he frequents strip clubs and massage parlors located next to mom-and-pop shops in strip malls, watches late night TV horror shows featuring a host who hectored the audience for wasting their time (his name was Seymour, and he really existed), and considers buying a car from Cal Worthington Dodge, the proprietor of which actually paraded animals from the San Diego Zoo on a leash through the lot while singing "If you want a brand new car go see Cal...."The stream-of-consciousness prose likely won't make everyone happy; and the solution to the disappearance of the missing land developer is unlike any in a typical mystery or detective novel. That may be the point. Disregarding the plot outcomes of 70s television and most mystery novels, resolutions are usually untidy. With a chronic pot-smoking detective at the center how else could things end?
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On this one, Pynch has mixed in a bit of Tony Hillerman, along with his usual Christopher Moore and James Joyce. This hippy detective romp is much more accessible than say, Against the Day, but this too has a dizzying array of characters.
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have not read any Pynchon in a while. I read Mason and Dixon when it was new, and I was not too impressed by that at the time. And, that was what (?), over ten years ago? I read V and Gravity's Rainbow, and Crying of Lot 49 in the 70's and I greatly enjoyed those, but I don't remember details well. So, it is difficult for me to compare this to his other works. But, my general feel is that is a typical Pynchon crazy-quilt of a book. Very inventive plot and filled (over-filled?) with popular culture references ¿ music (particularly surfer music), films (the main character is a huge John Garfield and B-movie fan) and TV (many allusions to the standard network series of the time). This story takes place in 1969, in post-Manson/Sharon-Tate-murder Los Angeles. Doc Sportello is a private eye, a hippe-druggie type. He is initially approached by an old girl friend who is now romantically involved with a real estate developer. She is afraid is that he about to be involuntarily committed by his wife, or worse. Then, Doc is also hired by a woman who's musician-husband was reported to have died in a drug overdose, but she believes that he is still alive. While investigating these two cases, Doc gets stuck in the middle of an intricate web of nefarious activities revolving around a secret syndicate of some sort called the Golden Fang and perhaps the LAPD. Not everyone will be as taken in by this book as I was. Pychon is definitely a cultish taste. But, I love Pynchon's sense of humor and identify with Doc's penchant for pop culture, sarcasm and constantly getting high (although I gave that up many years ago.
dla911 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I was skeptical of Thomas Pynchon's updated Chinatown knockoff, Inherent Vice. Probably the most approachable of all his work, Pynchon details the drug-addled 1960's life of a private investigator in LA, caught in a web of crooked property developers, phony rock groups and the Golden Fang (a dentist's tax dodge or a cover for a Chinese dope smuggling operation?) The PI, Doc Sportello, survives all the motorcycle gang/doper/loan shark challenges, but just like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, perhaps never really finds the true meaning of his quest. THREE STARS OUT OF FIVE...and a good read.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is not good, and the real mystery in this mystery novel is how Pynchon could have written a book this bad.Pynchon's genre private-eye novel introduces Larry 'Doc' Sportello, proprietor of LSD Investigations as the protagonist trying to unravel a series of hypothetically related crimes including drug smuggling, drug dealing, murder, kidnapping, and more. Doc dreamily navigates a case of characters so broad it includes corrupt cops, his parents, ex-girlfriends, a dentist, a marine lawyer, members of the Aryan Brotherhood and an IndoChinese shadow organization. There is virtually no cursing, a modicum of sex, and ubiquitous marijuana use with no consequences.The book was very poor, and considering the author this is a mystery more interesting than the one in the book. At times, the only explanation tied to the lacks in the book was that Pynchon was trying to realize a grand scale satire on the whole genre. Indeed, the only way Pynchon could keep his head up now is that the book was meant to be bad. In defense of that theory is a series of caricatured characters with wacky names such as Fritz Drybeam who (in 1970) brings the Internet to Doc's research (perhaps the worst plot artifice); attorney Sauncho Smilax; police detective Bigfoot Bjornsen; as well as Sledge Poteet, Petunia Leeway, Buddy Tubeside; Fabian Fazzo and Puck Beaverton. Another theory is that the book is a straight-up movie script making a brief en route appearance as a book, although there are too many characters and too little plot cohesiveness and way too much drug use to make anything out of this except a complete from scratch re-write salvaging a couple of the characters.Perhaps Pynchon didn't write the book at all-perhaps it was a graduate student or some sort of cruel trick played on readers. However, considering the disjointed break-from-reality absurdity that was Against the Day, one might surmise that Inherent Vice was the book that showed Pynchon's downward curve was exponential rather than linear. At this rate, Pynchon's next book will be uneditable and unpublishable because he's already managed the unreadable here.
nog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really not so much Pynchon's take on a hard-boiled detective novel as his take on a Bugs Bunny cartoon take on a hard-boiled detective caper as filtered through the eyes of a 60's pothead. Late in the novel, we get Mr. P's version of that scene in Chinatown where Jake hears the lecture from Cross on how the world works. The book gets all the zeitgeist right (I grew up in the LA basin, and my older brother lived just down the coast road in Redondo, so I spent a lot of time hanging out there during the time frame of this novel). In fact, Tom pulls out some memories I thought any self-respecting pothead would have forgotten long, long ago (since he was living in Manhattan Beach at the time). This is about as close as Pynchon has gotten to nostalgia. But I do remember a definite uneasiness creeping in after Manson, which wasn't so much paranoia (although you'll find that here too) as it was disillusionment.Fun, but there's really no dramatic tension whatsoever.Pynchon's oeuvre is starting to look like this to me: The California Trilogy V. The Historical TrilogyInterestingly enough, V. bridges the Pynchon Lite and Pynchon Heavy. More duality.
nivramkoorb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a display of Pynchon's great skills in terms of creativity and cleverness. However, it was nothing more than good entertainment. Similar to a 2 hour Hugh Grant movie. It shows me that 350 pages is about as much Pynchon as I can handle. I still can't believe that I got through Gravity's Rainbow, but then again I was in my 20's.
checkadawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hippie, surfer, private investigator--Doc--is called on to solve a crime. But can Doc escape his drug haze and sense of impending doom to get any work done? Lots of psychadelic fun in classic Pynchon style.
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have not read any Pynchon since grad school about 14 years ago, and this turned out a poor choice to pick back up ¿ I barely made it to page 28 before invoking that most wonderful ¿Rule of 50.¿ The hard-bitten private eye, the beautiful, sexy, mysterious client, the smarmy, sarcastic LAPD cop, a murder, and guess who gets framed. I could not care less about any of these characters or what happens to them. I don¿t care who killed the victim or why. The first 28 pages became one long boring cliché. Two stars just for the name and the glory that is Gravity's Rainbow--, 5/29/10
KLTMD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pynchon is as good as his PR suggests. His early 70's LA is spot on, his language is gorgeous, but much like the era itself, it became tiresome.
AlizarinT on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All the good Pynchon stuff (and it's good here) hung off a linear plot. It's an odd marriage that doesn't entirely work.It's Vineland, with better writing and sloppier editing--and 15 years less writing time.
David_Cain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vintage Pynchon with a strong dose of humor, mockery, unreliability, strangeness and an endless bouquet of magnificent language.
iwriteinbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listen: if I wanted to reread Gravity¿s Rainbow, I would reread Gravity¿s Rainbow. I may start pulling my hair out if I keep reading (maybe I should stop reading) reviews asking the ridiculous question: And maybe perhaps, T.P. could explain what possessed him to write a cheesy noire novel? As best I can remember, noire is a perfectly acceptable category of literature/film. Doyle, Hitchcock, Chandler, these are not pulp, folks. The other complaint is that Doc Sportello is a big old, Lebowski-like stoner, prone to hippie slang and psychedelic ramblings. For some reason this offends some Pynchon fans but the offense is lost on me.Well, maybe I¿ve figured it out. See, here¿s the thing: these concepts are so completely and utterly Pynchon that perhaps, the irony is lost on his normal readers. They are too busy telling people that they are offended by pot (because no drug has ever so much as reared its fuzzy head in a Pynchon novel before?) and cheesed out by the plot (also, something that has, regardless of contrary claims, appeared before) that they can¿t see Inherent Vice for what it is: perfect. Pynchon has always created strange story lines with uncountable characters and writing that resembles a bad (or good depending on which half of the sentence you¿re reading) trip.If you haven¿t picked up on it yet, I¿ll tell you now: I enjoyed Inherent Vice. The writing is hilarious in the (gasp) usually Pynchon style. While, I can¿t make you like the alleged Cheech and Chong dialogue ¿issue¿ if you aren¿t in the mood (and then why, pray tell did you pick up the book having read the synopsis, regardless of writer), I think that actually reading the book, keeping in mind that it is not a beach read will change your mind on the pesky area of detective plot.Now, since the man doesn¿t actually believe in public interaction, we¿ll never know but I think that the goal in following the noire mold was a simultaneous parody and tribute to the mystery genre. There is a great section where they shoot through Sherlock Holmes¿s coke use and debatable existence during which I found myself wondering who on earth people thought wrote this book if not Pynchon.Later in the evening, the two men settle in to a discussion where real cops and PI¿s are deemed unneeded as there are already enough running around on the small screen. This is, from where I¿m sitting, the ¿point¿ of using the noire device that so many people are looking for although, I still maintain that it is not something that needs to be explained if the writing is inherently funny and provocative.As for the other themes, the small surf town is caught between the sleepy sixties and the corporate seventies. Here, watching the beach change seems to be a main focus, the surfers, the shop owners, the very survival, or rather demise, of the town in the changing climate.My favorite part of Pynchon¿s stories is the way he writes his characters as clichés and point makers rather than straight people. We are introduced to very Pynchon-like fellows and females ranging (but not limited to, of course) from Shasta, the classic Femme Fatale (hello noire); Bigfoot, the hippie-hating cop; Spike, the hippie-friendly but also hippie-phobic, war-scared Nam vet and St. Flip, a religious surfer (and a religious surfer) ¿for whom Jesus Christ was not only a personal savior but surfing consultant as well.¿ (p.99) While I¿d like to type up his five-page introduction, I¿ll just leave you with this:¿Back in the beach pad there was a velvet painting of Jesus riding goofyfoot on a rough-hewn board with outriggers, meant to suggest a crucifix, through surf seldom observed on the Sea of Galilee, though the hardly presented a challenge to Flip¿s faith. What was `walking on water,¿ if it wasn¿t Bible talk for surfing? In Australia once, a local surfer, holding the biggest can of beer Flip had ever seen, had even sold him a fragment of the True board.¿ (p.99)I will make one concession. Doc, himself, was just the leaf in the wi
Gwendydd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I'm not sure what I thought of this novel. I enjoyed it, but I'm not really sure what the point was. And maybe that's part of the point - the main characters are so deep in their haze of drugs that they don't really know what's going on for most of the book. The characters are likeable, the dialog is snappy, and some of the situations are hilarious (such as the guy who sees a big television box and therefore assumes that whatever is in the box must be a television, therefore he takes out the crate of heroin and stares at it for hours, entertained by the slow-moving documentary). The whole book is kindof a mood piece - it's a portrait of LA in the '60s, full of hippies, surfers, grumpy cops, and lots and lots and lots of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll, with foreboding hints about the sour turn all of this will take in the '70s. The novel is also an amusing spoof on the detective genre. The PI at the center of the action is constantly on a wide range of drugs, and is aware of the effect drugs have on his memory. Sometimes the drugs help him in his detecting: his paranoia leads him to make some crazy but useful connections that his LAPD counterparts would never make. Sometimes the drugs prevent him from seeing the obvious. This is the first Pynchon novel I have read, and I will read more - Pychon's writing is poetic and expressive.I listened to the audiobook version of this. The narrator is fantastic: the voices for all of the characters are perfect, and he even sings all the songs.
mrgrimm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, it's a funny one, and you might almost think it's a Pynchon knockoff, but if so, it's just too, too good. What's the point of any novel? He's capturing (a seemingly very personal) moment of time that he seems to mark as the beginning of the death of American freedom (and the freewheeling counterculture of Southern California) and the ascendance the Net, the grid, the all encompassing system that tracks everyone everywhere... it's about how the counterculture got turned into Nike, Converse, Coke, and Pepsi.I think it's his Crying of Lot 49 do-over, and I think it works pretty darn well. You have to get past the plot--admittedly he never ends super well, though this ending is fair enough--and get to the Situation, man....Also, it's all about ZOMES! How can you not love it?
mathrocks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hippie version of a crime noir novel, set in the early 70's. It features a lonely and drug-addled, but still alert and hardnosed, private investigator, and plenty of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Also surfer music, food joints, new age clinics, classic cars, corrupt police, the manifold manifestations of a mysterious criminal organization called the "Golden Fang", a side trip to Las Vegas, the importance of family, foreshadowing the internet, and so forth. A fun read, and you have to really think and pay attention to understand the plot and the jokes. Somewhat against expectations, there is even a denouement, although plenty of loose ends are left untied. The best part of the book is not the plot, rather the nostalgia (OK, I am too young for this, but still) and the atmosphere.It has a LOT of characters. I started writing a list of names of all characters as they appeared no matter how minor, and this came in very handy, as someone mentioned in passing could show up again much later. I was torn between giving this three or four stars, but I recently read also "Gun, with Occasional Music", which is also a variation on the crime noir genre, and that book was a lot more inventive and made more of an impression on me, so I have downgraded this book to three stars. I would definitely recommend it to others, as long as they understand that Thomas Pynchon can be outrageous at times.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you took all the great lines in -The Big Lebowski- and changed them into beautiful philosophical prose about the minutiae of the 60s and early 70's, add in a couple characters too many to make it harder to follow you get -Inherent Vice-. It's hilarious. It's retro-cool. The main character is a stoner PI - he's totally "the Dude" except he has a license.MY GOD this man can write - and he's funny for an old dude. The story might have made more sense if I had read it instead of listened to it on audio but then I would have missed out on the cool funny stoner voices.Must read more Pynchon.
Hagelstein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doc Sportello, anti-establishment, principled doper, was inspired to become a private investigator by watching John Garfield films. Set in Los Angeles in the 1960s, Inherent Vice, is an intelligent, atypical, beach-noir, detective story. It also captures the waning days of a California sub-culture.Although self-admittedly drug addled, Doc is able to track some leads in the case of a missing land developer that was living with Doc¿s ex-girlfriend. Doc knows so many people that it¿s difficult at times to keep track of the characters, but it all shakes out in the end.
RGazala on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set largely in and around Los Angeles in 1969 and 1970, and told in the form of a psychedelic (as opposed to noir) detective story, plot is far from the point of Thomas Pynchon's novel, "Inherent Vice." The plot is disjointed, but then so were the times during which the story unfolds. Rather, the novel presents a pastiche of a post-Altamont and Manson-obsessed slice of America, when the hippie culture was quickly self-destructing, shortly to be eclipsed by Watergate, disco and polyester. Pynchon does a superb job capturing and conveying that milieu through a wide array of distinctive characters who pop in and out of the story, each presenting through their respective mannerisms in speech, conduct, dress and philosophy a unique perspective on the unkept promises of the so-called Age of Aquarius. The book's title is a legal term referring to a thing that has inextricably in its very nature a covert flaw that renders the thing's deterioration inevitable. In this novel, the thing in question is the heyday of the American hippie. As Pynchon was there to witness the fall, his work provides a meaningful vista of a particularly American time and place not so very long ago.