RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post

From: Frederick Zackel (fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 08 Aug 2009

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    I always read Michael Dirda of the Post. His conceits are close to mine.
    (And the post office just delivered my copies of INHERENT VICE and SUM, a tiny lil' book by David Eagleman, which I highly recommend, yea!) Dirda writes:

    Imagine the cult film "The Big Lebowski" as a novel, with touches of
    "Chinatown" and "L.A. Confidential" thrown in for good measure. Imagine your favorite Raymond Chandler or James Crumley mystery retold as a hippie whodunit, set in Gordita Beach, Calif., at the very end of the 1960s. Imagine a great American novelist, one who is now a septuagenarian, writing with all the vivacity and bounce of a young man who has just discovered girls. Most of all, imagine sentences and scenes that are so much fun to read that you wish "Inherent Vice" were twice as long as it is. Imagine saying that about a Thomas Pynchon novel.

    and later ...

    "Inherent Vice" opens just as any California private-eye novel should -- with a faint air of wistfulness and regret:

    "She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc hadn't seen her for over a year."

    Ending up with ...

    "Inherent Vice" may not be the Great American Novel, but it's certainly a Great American Read -- a terrific pastiche of California noir, wonderfully amusing throughout (and hard to quote from in a family newspaper because of the frequent use of, uh, colorful spoken language) and a poignant evocation of the last flowering of the '60s, just before everything changed and passed into myth or memory:

    "Sunrise was on the way, the bars were just closed or closing, out in front of Wavos everybody was either at the tables along the sidewalk, sleeping with their heads on Health Waffles or in bowls of vegetarian chili, or being sick in the street, causing small-motorcycle traffic to skid in the vomit and so forth. It was late winter in Gordita."

     By Michael Dirda Thursday, August 6, 2009


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