Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: INHERENT VICE: A Report from the Trenches

From: Patrick King (
Date: 26 Aug 2009

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    I still haven't read INHERENT VICE. I'm looking forward to reading it next month when my other reading projects are finished. But I have read V, THE CRYING OF LOT 49, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, VINELAND, MASON & DIXON, & AGAINST THE DAY (so far my favorite). I can tell you this: if you think INHERENT VICE is a detective story, you'll love the coat hangers at Bloomingdales. Pynchon is famous for using pop genre spoofs as a springboard for his recurring ideas, the generation of energy and quantum physics to name two. I will not be surprised if light and its extended potential are significant themes in INHERENT VICE. I also expect to read about a photo process that enables the viewers of a photograph to move backward in the photo subject's history and forward into their future. This invention was developed by one, Merle Rideout, and postulated in AGAINST THE DAY. It's application to crime detection will blow DNA out of the water.

    Patrick King

    --- On Tue, 8/25/09, Kevin Burton Smith <> wrote:

    > From: Kevin Burton Smith <>
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: INHERENT VICE: A Report from the Trenches
    > To:
    > Date: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 11:34 AM
    > Some comments to my original post:
    > > AI admit I had a bit of an 'eh' reaction to it...
    > Which is not to 
    > > say I thought INHERENT VICE was bad, but I wouldn't
    > > grade it above an A-minus, and when it's Pynchon, you
    > hope for more.
    > An "eh" reaction gets an A-minus? Man, if you were a high
    > school 
    > teacher, the kids would love you!
    > > in general I think you are more likely to enjoy his
    > writing if you
    > > like the humour.
    > Well, I get the jokes, and some of them are pretty good (I
    > love the 
    > Sinatra bit -- it's pure Marx Brothers), but much of the
    > humour would 
    > come off better accompanied by a giant spliff and a bag of
    > Doritos.
    > > Yes, I think some may be missing the big, the very
    > big, picture:
    > But not the poster, of course.
    > Or maybe, just maybe,  there is no "big... very big
    > picture," after 
    > all -- just the wishful thinking of the faithful. Maybe
    > Pynchon just 
    > tried to write a detective story. Which is sorta cool.
    > I mean, it's pretty obvious what Pynchon's themes are so
    > far in 
    > INHERENT VICE. And they don't need an Erector set of
    > pseudo-
    > intellectualism or a ton of academic posturing to spot.
    > After all, 
    > under the barrage of words and digressions, he's not
    > exactly subtle.
    > Oh, sure, if you put enough tweedheads in a room and set
    > them all in 
    > deconstruction mode eventually you'll get all sorts of
    > unique 
    > interpretations and blather about "non-falsifiable
    > speculation," "the 
    > beauty of the ‘forking paths’ and their effect on
    > things" and "the 
    > basic splitting process of the alternate realities and
    > histories as 
    > followed by the ordinary and extraordinary ray" as
    > exemplified by the 
    > alternative tangents of Doc's investigation.
    > Pynchon himself might be amused by some of these
    > interpretations. I 
    > sure am.
    > Stare at a blank wall long enough, you'll see the entire
    > universe.
    > The "big, the very big, picture" may simply be that Pynchon
    > has 
    > written a detective novel, and done an adequate -- but not
    > earth-
    > shattering -- job of it. There are worse crimes.
    > My guess is that maybe Pynchon himself is a fan of the
    > genre, and 
    > decided to have some fun. And this lightweight romp is what
    > he came up 
    > with. But you probably have to find his stuff utterly
    > hilarious to 
    > breeze through almost 400 pages of it. He may be a great
    > writer, but 
    > he ain't no Richard Prather or Robert Leslie Bellem. And he
    > sure ain't 
    > no Donna Moore.
    > And as far as dope humour goes, Cheech and Chong are
    > funnier.
    > Doesn't mean that Pynchon can't write. Maybe the rank and
    > file (viewed 
    > with so much disdain by some on this list) are simply less
    > impressed 
    > by literary pretension, and more impressed by strong
    > characterization 
    > and tight, taut writing; two trademarks of the genre that
    > Pynchon has 
    > decided to dip his toe into.
    > After all, there just might be a good story under there
    > somewhere. Cut 
    > out 200 pages and a lot of the lamer jokes, and INHERENT
    > VICE might 
    > make a dandy (and quite funny) HardCaseCrime book.
    > Kevin Burton Smith
    > Editor/Founder
    > The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    > "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."
    > ------------------------------------
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