Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: "Inherent Vice" by Thomas Pynchon

This book, Inherent Vice, is by far, leaps and bounds, the best thing Thomas Pynchon has ever written, despite it still having the hallmarks of what makes his book so unpleasurbale to read. It is still convoluted, still has a wandering plot and still has characters that act as vessels for whatever Pynchon is shoving down our throats instead of actually acting like real people. But at least it is a fun time between the pages. Instead of the action being little more than a gateway for Pynchon to discuss topics such as paranoia, politics, government and the advent of new technology in a way that makes him feel superior to his reader, who for the most part is bored, here, it is simply to give the reader a good time with a plot that goes awry, but gloriously so, with a smile it’s face and a doobie hanging out of it’s mouth. That last part really sums up the existence of Doc Sportello, a private dick living on the beach in L. A. at the tail-end of the 60’s, who can’t seem to get his ass off the couch, let alone to do so and solve crimes. But when Shasta, the great love of his past, asks him for some help on a case, he feels motivated to do something and assist her. It only leads to trouble and more trouble, leaving Doc wishing he had just stayed on his couch. If there is a plot it is really hard to follow and never makes much sense. But there are scenes of hilarity that make this book really work, such as anything involving Bigfoot Bjornson, whose hatred of Doc and hippie culture provides quite a few laughs, and an action scene found in many noir tales that, tinged with Pynchon’s oddball sense of detachment, makes for something really memorable. I really can’t say this book is great, but it is surely is a good time from an unlikely source.

Rating: 4/5

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