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Inherent Vice

by Thomas Pynchon

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2,424804,476 (3.58)111
Doc Sportello is bewildered when an ex-girlfriend returns to recruit him in a plot to kidnap a wealthy construction executive. Soon, Sportello finds himself in the midst of a thrilling conspiracy with an undercover cop and a group of dentists who are swindling the IRS.
  1. 30
    The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (johnxlibris)
    johnxlibris: Similar feel and locale. Conspiracies abound.
  2. 20
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea (Bigrider7)
    Bigrider7: A pair of whimsical books where reality is never quite what it appears, and is much more indiscrete and lacking in continuity than many of us can handle. Secrets about how life operates lurking just beyond the views of perceptions
  3. 20
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (LamontCranston)
  4. 00
    Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels by David Markson (bertilak)
  5. 12
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (smichaelwilson)
    smichaelwilson: Both books take a dark yet whimsical journey through the 60s/70s counterculture, and the decay of America's cultural enlightenment.

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English (73)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Although the rear cover of the book says that Pynchon's working here in an unaccustomed genre, it felt like pretty familiar territory to me: People with funny names become embroiled in criss-crossing hijinks, often at odds with the authorities. Also: drugs (guess I'd call the unaccustomed genre here "stoner noir"). It was an ok book, better in the last 100 pages than elsewhere. The thing I think I've finally put together about Pynchon is that it's hard for me to get in the heads of any of his characters, and without that access, it's hard for me to feel like I have much of a stake in their plights, which tends to make his books hard for me to really engage with. There's plenty of humor here, and a handful of moments of real humanity, but mostly it reads like Pynchon riffing on The Big Lebowski. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
I've got interested in Pynchon after watching P. T. Anderson's adaptation of this novel, so I shyly and carefully entered his world with his Bleeding Edge (2013) and The Crying of Lot 49 (1965, Croatian translation), thus got a bit familiar with his style and way of constructing plots.

In my opinion this crazy, psychedelic and hallucinogenic world he built is on par with those in his two other novels. This time revolving around a private head, Doc Sportello, trying to unwind the mystery of a missing construction magnate, Mickey Wolfmann, that his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fay, asked him to find. In this investigation many other mysteries and characters emerge, gradually twisting the plot and disorienting the reader. Throughout the story Doc, and also the reader, gets more and more sure in the presence of the invisible and dark forces that pull the strings around our main and other characters, which is one of the recurring motives in Bleeding Edge and Lot 49.
On the surface this works as a great detective story with it's memorable characters set in the late 60's Los Angeles. The twingling story keeps the reader engaged, while also disorienting him, with every chapter bringing front another mystery that gets untangled as the book gets closer to the end. And it works on this level as good as it gets.
On the other hand, under the surface this is a great testimony and an analysis of a lost American culture, the creeping appearance of neoliberalism and the fascist and bullying reign of the USAs establishment leaders, in this case those of republicans R. Nixon and R. Reagan.

The only thing I didn't like in some instances is the treatment of some of the female characters, whereas they often seem to be victims of some really aggressive sexual assaults.
The book demands a lot of focus, and I can't wait to read it again, this time in English.

By the way, there's a good read on the subject of the movie and the book on this link: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/02/inherent-vice-review-counterculture

Enjoy. ( )
  luckipucki | Mar 19, 2020 |
At the heart of Thomas Pynchon’s shaggy 70’s funny serious meta-noir, is a mystery greater than the plot presented. As revealed by Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN (wonderful screenplay by Robert Towne) and Raymond Chandler’s every lit only by streetlight foray into Los Angeles and its environs, there is a river of turpitude flowing beneath the shiny hard gloss of Southern California. Whereas the earlier works dealt with that river seeping up through the cracks into the lives of individuals, Pynchon’s INHERENCT VICE places his plot just after a moment where such a crack became a seismic fault line—Charles Manson and the Tate-LaBianca murders. Barely addressed during the actual novel, this event was personal to Los Angeles in a way that the other death knells of sixties idealism were not. The clinical savagery of the murders by the blindly obedient seemingly harmless followers of a charismatic madman, stunned and horrified the public beyond startled head shaking and dismay. The murders crept down into the core of who we thought we were and many never quite saw the world the same again. (Can we trust authority to protect us—does authority even care?) Onto this unsettled plain, come the quirky goofballs and malevolent forces of Pynchon’s world. A music mogul’s disappearance seems to be the trigger of events, but as Pynchon unfolds his tale gradually and gracefully you realize that all the events of his story are just aftermath. We are only playing catch up to events that unfold without our knowledge and beyond our power and will likely escape our understanding when we come upon them. Pynchon also brings in one of his favorite recurring themes, identity. There are people undercover, people finding out who they are or were, people leading double lives and people who are so slightly connected to the world that they may be said to not to exist at all. Doc Sportello, Pynchon’s names are always marvelous, the PI that leads the reader through the tale is easy to dismiss as a drugged out hippie but he will grow in your esteem and affection while the music mogul at the center of the mystery does a character 180….and then another. He remains almost little more than a shadow figure that the other characters try to mold into the image they want to see. In the midst of this are the things we choose to distract ourselves with sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and television and munchies. Mix in Pynchon’s usual array of unusual characters who seldom do quite what you expect them to do for reasons you won’t see coming and what I have presented as a heavy and ominous tome reads more like an ingenious PI story rolled up in a pothead’s lark. The humor is often sly, sometimes bawdy and lewd but the trip always rewarding. An amusing romp amidst the tombstones of our culture. ( )
2 vote KurtWombat | Sep 15, 2019 |
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  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
A pesar de las críticas que ha recibido esta novela por parte de críticos medio snobs, Inherent vice me pareció un libro genial. Divertido, complejo, coloquial, laberíntico. ( )
  LeoOrozco | Feb 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Both shorter and easier to read than any of Pynchon’s previous novels apart from The Crying of Lot 49, Inherent Vice gives the impression of having been easier to write, too. It’s less than three years since Against the Day was published, compared to the 17 that passed between Gravity’s Rainbow and Vineland. That may be one reason why, characteristically hilarious and thought-provoking though it is, Inherent Vice lacks much of the menace and the passion of its predecessors.
Inherent Vice once again delivers the trademark rollicking with-it-ness of an author who doesn’t create fantasy worlds so much as show us our own world at its most fantastic. This time, however, it’s mostly for fun, a high-five for those who were there then, a glimpse into the groove of it all for those who otherwise can only daydream while sampling what Burbank hath bequeathed, whether Adam-12 re-runs, or those Warners/Reprise samplers on used vinyl.
Inherent Vice is by far the least puzzling Pynchon book to enter our airspace: a goof on the Los Angeles noir, starring a chronically stoned PI with a psychedelic wardrobe and a hankering for pizza. At fewer than four hundred pages, it’s also the shortest Pynchon novel to appear since Vineland (1990); you could almost recommend it to your book club, or to your kids, if they still read books.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Paul La Farge (Sep 1, 2009)
Ultimately – perhaps regrettably – Inherent Vice is a wash. Depending on your angle, it’s either a breezy Something that looks like an airy Nothing, or vice versa.
In his zany new novel, Inherent Vice, Pynchon goes to the Golden State again, tunneling back to the early 1970s, to paint a nostalgic portrait of a fictional beach town north of LA. Here, the counterculture has lost out to the forces of control, governmental power and, well, sobriety.
added by Shortride | editThe Dallas Morning News, John Freeman (Aug 23, 2009)
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Under the paving-stones, the beach! Graffito, Paris, May 1968
First words
She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to.
The clock up on the wall, which reminded Doc of elementary school back in San Joaquin, read some hour that it could not possibly be. Doc waited for the hands to move, but they didn't, from which he deduced that the clock ws broken and maybe had been for years. Which was groovy however because long ago Sortilège had taught him the esoteric skill of telling time from a broken clock. The first thing you had to do was light a joint, which in the Hall of Justice might seem odd, but surely not way back here--who knew, maybe even outside the jurisdiction of local drug enforcement--though just to be on the safe side he also lit a De Nobili cigar and filled the room with a precautionary cloud of smoke from the classic Mafia favorite. After inhaling posmoke for a while, he glanced up at the clock, and sure enough, it showed a different time now, though this could also be from Doc having forgotten where the hands were to begin with. (p.282-283)
The bars hadn't closed yet, and Denis didn't seem to be home. Keeping an ear out for funseekers in the vicinity, Doc brought the carton with the heroin inside it down into the remains of Denis's living room and hid it behind a section of collapsed ciling, draping the giant plastic rag of what had been Chico's water bed over it. Only then did he happen to notice that the carton he'd pulled out of that dumpster in the dark had once helf a twenty-five-inch color TV set, a detail he had no cause to think about till next day when he dropped in on Denis about luchtime and found him sitting, to all appearances serious and attentive, in front of the professionally packaged heroin, now out of its box, and staring at it, as it turned out he'd been doing for some time.

"It said on the box it was a television set," Denis explained.

"And you couldn't resist. Didn't you check first to see if there was something you could plug in?"

"Well I couldn't find any power cord, man, but I figured it could be some new type of set you didn't need one?"

"Uh huh and what . . ." why was he pursuing this? "were you watching, when I came in?"

"See, my theory is, is it's one of those educational channels? A little slow maybe, but no worse than high school . . ."

"Yes Denis thanks, I will just have a hit off of that if you don't mind. . . ."

"And dig it, Doc, if you watch long enough . . . see how it begins to sort of . . . change?"

Alarmingly, Doc after a minute or two did find minute modulations of color and light intensity beginning to appear among the tightly taped layers of plastic. He sat down next to Denis, and they passed the roach back and forth, eyes glued to the package. Jade/Ashley showed up with a giant Thermos full of Orange Julius and paper cups and a bag of Cheetos.

"Lunch," she greeted them, "and color-coordinated, too, and-- Whoa, what the fuck is that, it looks like smack."

"Nah," said Denis, "I think it's like a . . . documentary?"

They all sat there in a row, sipping, crunching, and gazing. Finally Doc tore himself away. "I hate to be the bad guy, but I've got to do a repo on this?"

"Just till this part's over?"

"Till we see what happens," added Jade.

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original title: Inherent Vice
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Doc Sportello is bewildered when an ex-girlfriend returns to recruit him in a plot to kidnap a wealthy construction executive. Soon, Sportello finds himself in the midst of a thrilling conspiracy with an undercover cop and a group of dentists who are swindling the IRS.

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