is probably the least Pynchon-y Pynchon novel out there: it's short (only 300-odd pages), not terribly dense (no references to the quaternion group or rocket science) and not terribly life-changing either. If not for his name on the front cover, I'm not sure I would've marked it as his work right away. Of course, there are all sorts of Pynchon-esque elements scattered throughout Inherent Vice
too: random pop songs, paranoia dripping from every paragraph, ridiculous names. (Art Tweedle? Puck Beaverton? Larry Sportello? Mickey Wolfmann? You can't make this stuff up.)
So what does that make Inherent Vice
? In some ways it was a disappointing mystery story with a plot didn't resolve as cleanly as I would have liked. Or maybe it's about setting, about the stoners who created the 60s as we know them, about the people who eventually moved on.
I read Inherent Vice
as quickly as I could (mostly because I had about 10 other books on the go) and it was a dizzying affair. As I neared the end, I started confusing characters and motives and backstories; I couldn't remember where I had first seen Puck's name and I totally forgot why that guy wearing the Shasta tie was important. But in some ways, my confusion mirrored Doc Sportello's quite nicely -- while Doc was wading through a mess of places, names and assorted drugs, I was trying to find my way through his equally confusing story. And I didn't even begin to look for thematic elements at work in the novel.Inherent Vice
is an odd little work that doesn't quite fit on Pynchon's bookshelf, but it's still a lot of fun to read. There're a few funny parts too -- look for Denis wearing a slice of pizza on his head. You'll have to read it to believe it.