Like Denis Johnson’s Nobody Move from earlier this year, Inherent Vice gives us a heavyweight literary novelist working in the private eye genre. Doc Sportello awakens to find the subject of his stakeout missing, a bodyguard murdered, himself a suspect. There are gaps in his memory tho, not just from being knocked out, but from being stoned all day, every day. It’s Los Angeles in 1970, where the Manson murders have just cast a pall on the surfers and hippies living the dream
Reviewers have called this Pynchon Lite, and noted that his books set in California (The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland) tend to be easier reads than some of his longer books. True enough, and I’m glad of it. Pynchon’s often funny, but reading him is seldom relaxing. Inherent Vice seems designed entirely to entertain.
The Pynchon book I’d like to see would be about a reclusive world-class writer, who can successfully disappear for 45 years. Somebody with a cult big enough to propel him to the best-seller list. Somebody who’s been on the Simpsons three times. Pynchon only writes fiction tho.