Saturday, January 9, 2016

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice
By Thomas Pynchon
New York: Penguin Press, 2009. 369 pp. Mystery.

In this mystery, private investigator and hippie, Doc Sportello, is plunged into the seedy underbelly of late ‘60s - early ‘70s L.A. when is ex-girlfriend, Shasta, comes to him with a kidnapping plot she wants him to foil. At the same time, he’s looking for a missing body guard, investigating a dead musician rumored to be alive and well, and delving into the case of a runaway daughter of wealthy parents. In true noir style, his cases become connected to one another as he unfolds the larger conspiracy at hand, interviews a cast of counterculture characters and has several run-ins with cops whose motives and methods become increasingly questionable.

Doc’s carefree personality, reminiscent of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski (1998) film, colors him unassuming to many, and disarms those from whom he seeks information. This, matched with his apparent deductive skills, allows him to de-tangle the web he’s found himself woven into and makes it enjoyable to ride alongside him as he does.

This may be one of Pynchon’s more accessible novels, and a good place to start if you’re interested in reading his more complex and often longer works (Gravity’s Rainbow, Bleeding Edge, The Crying of Lot 49, etc.). There is some harsh language, adult situations, and drug references within, so readers who may find this content objectionable will want to consider other selections. This book is a psychedelic sprint into a hazy world of crime, conspiracy, and secrets, but softened by humor and unique and interesting characters.


No comments: