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Inherent Vice

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  8,775 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon- private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog

It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land d
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by The Penguin Press (first published 2009)
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Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas PynchonThe Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas PynchonV. by Thomas PynchonMason and Dixon by Thomas PynchonAgainst the Day by Thomas Pynchon
Ranking the works of Thomas Pynchon
6th out of 9 books — 148 voters
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
152nd out of 1,360 books — 6,708 voters

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Community Reviews

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So this is where the Pynchon magic lies ensconced - this flippant finger-pointing at various American idiosyncrasies with the self-assured omniscience of a master and a neat splicing together of snide references to pop culture mania and casually inserted observations on human foibles.

A rather perfunctory reading of The Crying of Lot 49, a deceptively short novella with mind-bending intricacies, some time last year had elicited no reaction from me which was a rather alarming prospect. I had wonde
Reading this book gave me a serious urge to watch The Big Lebowski again.

Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello is a private investigator in LA in 1969, and he’s also a damn dirty hippie who smokes dope constantly. Doc gets a visit from his old girlfriend Shasta who has been seeing married and wealthy Mickey Wolfman. Wolfman’s wife and her boyfriend want Shasta to help them with a scam to get Mickey committed to an asylum, but Shasta feels guilty and wants Doc to help Mickey out.

Doc no sooner gets started than h
Arthur Graham
No offense, but you have the look of a private gumshoe, or do I mean gumsandal.

— Overheard directed at Larry "Doc" Sportello, PI, at a seedy Vegas casino

On one level, Inherent Vice is a classic noir, featuring the standard litany of players and patsies in a kidnapping case gone awry. On another level, it's anything but your typical hardboiler, featuring a bumbling pothead detective in its leading role, supported by an equally unlikely cast of friends and foes in a caper with more subplots and si
Jeffrey Keeten
Disclaimer: at no time was the reviewer stoned, tweaked, inebriated or involved in any felony endeavors during the reading of this book.

I have read other people referring to this as "Pynchon Lite" which reminds me of food off the vegetarian menu. I haven't read enough Pynchon to be an authority on whether this is medium well Pynchon or medium rare. The only other Thomas Pynchon I've ever read is Gravity's Rainbow, but I will say there is certainly plenty of meat on the bone in Inherent Vice.

The only good thing this book did for me was help me remember how profoundly grateful I am to have completely missed the sixties. I think I would've killed myself if I'd had to have witnessed all this psychedelic drug use and violence on aesthetics fisthand. Killed myself or become a cop or something.

In addition to reminding me how much I hate the sixties, Inherent Vice caused me to suspect that I don't like Pynchon much either. I've always sort of felt like he's the literary equivalent of Black
3.5/5 stars -- rounded up because I'm feeling generous.This isn't Tommy P at his best, but it is Tommy P at his most accessible.

'Inherent Vice' is good for a laugh, but sorta like that last time I smoked pot, I doubt I'll remember much about it tomorrow. It was a fun experience -- I giggled, I zoned out, got a little paranoid... hey, I think I might have even gotten a case of the munchies. Yeah, man. I sat on my sofa, ate a bag of Doritos, a pint of ice cream, a box of cookies and 6 slices of p
I have always admired Pynchon, and believed if given a chance I could adore him.

I had a borderline religious experience reading a screaming comes across the sky and commencing the literary acid trip of Gravity’s Rainbow through a hyper-landscape of world war frantic with crazed characters going batshit with epiphanies and neuroses and rage in the most psychedelic and encyclopedic of postmodern modes, Pynchon’s . . . this is not a disentanglement from but a progressive knotting into . . . as he
Eddie Watkins
Is this Pynchon investigating (& turning a critical eye upon) his own infatuation with the “dream of the ‘60’s”? Spying on himself?

Besides the convoluted crime plot which never lets up, delivering the goods time after time, what’s of primary interest here is how people change, how they wholeheartedly believe one thing one day and how over time that belief is turned on its head and their lives and beliefs become the antitheses of what they were when they were younger. What is the process invo
When I first read "Inherent Vice," my Pynchon intake was woefully scant. I also read it in little bits and spurts over the span of a few months -- oh, and somewhere in all that, I got married. And was working two jobs. And had no idea that the undeservedly derisive "Pynchon Light" just means it requires still frantic but slightly less infrequent consultation of a dictionary and only one additional reference material (once again, my brain would like to thank the Pynchon Wiki for its meticulous, i ...more
Dec 29, 2010 oriana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: R. M.
Shelves: read-2010
(btw, I have an extra copy of this, in hardcover, in case anyone's looking for a swap.)


Bought myself a little birthday present, since this is finally out in paperback.

Now I just have to get through Fables, Master & Margarita, and Gospel of Anarchy and then, oh Pynchon, we will rekindle our torrid love affair...


Ah, well. Pynchon, I love you, but this was an odd one. Definitely in the quick-and-dirty tradition of Vineland, as opposed to the sprawling and stunning force of Gravity's Rainb
After six novels spanning a literary career of about forty-seven years, Thomas Pynchon has become less and less obscure. Not so much in the sense of his persona as a writer; that will always remain ambiguous, and it is irrelevant to the books that he writes, as William Gaddis would argue. It is rather what makes a Thomas Pynchon novel so great, that has become more apparent. Which is also why his latest, a "part- noir, part- psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon —" in which "private eye Doc Sport ...more
David Katzman
Mar 13, 2013 David Katzman rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pynchon completists
Oh, Pynchon. How you disappoint me.

This time, it's personal. (Cue the overblown Schwarzenegger theme song.)

It's difficult to review Pynchon without coming to him with a lot of baggage. Like, after DFW, is there any other author so worshipped for straddling the line between mainstream narrative and experimentalism? Who has international average-Joe name recognition and major critic cred? You know, the ones at The New York Times not us proles. Does not Gravity's Rainbow carry the weight of...well,
Dec 13, 2012 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: box-cutter slow dance
Recommended to Mariel by: voyeur hawk him out of his hinges
"Cop killer, better you than me
Cop killer, fuck police brutality
Cop killer, I know your family's grievin'
(Fuck 'em)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even."
Once rapped Law & Order: SVU's Ice-T.

Inherent Vice is the thing inside of you that you can't avoid, your inability to resist your own self destruction. I'm gonna consider it a self medication of the void with the therapy resembling (they could be sisters) chemo that kills you as it takes care of you because while I wasn't ever a moth in the
Largely ineffectual trifle that looks to be cobbled together from a combination of Wikipedia and Lester Bangs/Mickey Spillane Cliff's Notes (are either one of them still alive and using Wikipedia regularly?), this book reveals what happens when a 70 year old shut-in tries his hand at nerd schlock and instead churns out an aimless, tedious, meandering rewrite of the Big Lebowski without any of the wit. There's not a chance in hell a guy who wasn't named "Thomas Pynchon" could even get a book like ...more
Why Inherent Vice and why now? ‘Inherent’ is used as it is in legal documents, and Pynchon is making the point that powerful or wealthy actors in our society have an inherent advantage which they may use to good or ill, i.e., police, FBI, property developers, ARPAnet operators all have outsized power that needs monitoring, formally and/or informally. And perhaps, in the tendency within each of us to look after our own interests and feather our own beds, we all harbor the "inherent vice" Pynchon ...more
Nathan Roberson
Dec 13, 2011 Nathan Roberson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pynchon fans, post-modern fans
There is one thing I've noticed again and again when people bring up Inherent Vice, the latest from American literary master Thomas Pynchon. Pynchon is usually not a beach read, nor a New York Times bestseller, but many people seem to think that Inherent Vice could be his first novel to fall into these categories. It is not.

The prose of Inherent Vice is certainly not the usual style of Pynchon. It is very direct and succinct for the most part. You will come across a sentence every now and then t
It is no great surprise when this pothead noir changes location from coastal southern California to Las Vegas, Correct, think Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Inherant Vice is not bound by similar streams of endless paraphernalia but rather takes the vantage point that Thompson employed, looking back from the dark hues of Nixonia across the ruins of Altamont to the legacy of Great Promise. Pynchon layers the atmosphere with puns, free love and a high tide of chemical paranoia. Doc, his protagonis ...more
Oct 24, 2013 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dirty hippies, dirty cops, dirty money, dirty girls
Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 is one of my favorite books, but I just wasn't feeling this one. Like that older classic, Inherent Vice is set in trippy 60s California, but whereas The Crying of Lot 49 was a conspiratorial Alice in Wonderland of secret societies and 60s counterculture, here we have... the same basic elements in the setting, but the story is nothing more than a detective mystery with way too many characters and twists and turns for me to keep track.

I listened to this on audiobook
Apr 24, 2013 Suzanne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: l-a
Beach noir! Fun to see my hometown neighborhoods through the dark, skewed. and screwy vision of Thomas Pynchon. Surfers/dopers, stewardii, corrupt cops, the Fractured Cow, the late lamented Either / Or Book Store (probably the best bookstore ever in the history of the world), El Tarasco mexican food. And the writing. OMG the prose-- too wonderful.
Pynchon falls to Earth here. At no point does this novel engage in the normal pynchonian analepsis, wherein character 1 flashbacks about character 2, and at some indeterminate point, the narration had switched completely over to character 2, forgetting character 1, but then character 2 suddenly has an analepsis about character 3, switching to that person’s perspective, and so on. This, rather, is straightforward, a post-hippy private investigator tracking down something or other. I think it’s a ...more
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

This sunny, breezy novel is an odd duck,-- self-consciously, one has to assume. A genre book that never really seems to subvert or upend the form, Pynchon's latest book remains true to the author's long-established tropes and ticks while staying refreshingly readable and accessible. I'm not personally familiar with detective novels (I understand that Raymond Chandler is the model here), but it sure seems like Pynchon plays is playing the genre straight--there are r
Tercer libro de Pynchon en mi recorrido. Pensemos en una novela negra atravesada por la psicodelia de finales de los 60s, drogas, tensiones políticas, playas californianas y surfistas, todo esto envuelto en la clásica paranoia conspirativa de Pynchon y obtendremos Vicio Propio. La primera particularidad que se encontrará quien se ha enfrentado a libros anteriores de Pynhchon radica en el hecho de que a diferencia de obras como La Subasta del Lote 49 o El Arco Iris de Gravedad, no hay que esperar ...more
I liked this better than anything Pynchon's written since Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon's not much of a novelist in the classic sense: his plots are byzantine rambling wrecks in which loose ends are never tied up; his women are all "sexy chicks" or older female relatives; you can barely tell his characters apart if they talk for more than a couple sentences, because they all sound like Thomas Pynchon, and they certainly don't motivate his plots. But who cares? Not me, because he's the epic poet of ...more
Pynchon lightens up and stops hitting the thesaurus. He is still the man of neon prose, but Inherent Vice is flickery, not florid. The writing still sizzles, thrills, and pops, but is easier on the eyes. Even so, Inherent Vice is still confusing thanks to its nearly 100 one-note characters: stoners, cops, surfers, lawyers, prostitutes, bikers, gamblers, real estate moguls, dentists, and veterans moving through late 60s LA. A conspiracy involving a drug cartel, a boat, a white collar crew, a real ...more
Carolyn Kellogg
For the LA Times:

"Inherent Vice" is Thomas Pynchon doing Raymond Chandler through a Jim Rockford looking glass, starring Cheech Marin (or maybe Tommy Chong). What could easily be mistaken as a paean to 1960s Southern California is also a sly herald of that era's end. This, of course, is exactly the kind of layered meaning that readers expect of Pynchon.

His fans tend to be drawn to either his massive, bafflingly complex efforts -- the iconic, National Book

Inherent Vice is a Chandler sendup/homage/pastiche (as filtered through the Coens’s and Altman’s cinematic expressions of Chandler’s vision), a continuation of Pynchon’s lighter, comic and more accessible “California novels” ( Crying of Lot 49, Vineland), a tribute to that classic of drug outrage and black humor Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pynchon’s most straightforward genre appropriation, and comic take on California of the 1960’s. The detective is a stoner goofball(with a moment or two of
Will Byrnes
Don’t think great American novel. This is not Gravity’s Rainbow, but a bit of fun, of the noir variety. Doc Sportello is a hippy dippy PI in late 60’s LA. That his agency is named LSD Investigations pretty much tells you the tone here. Doc’s fondness for weed is matched by his ability to find things out. When an old flame show up at his door looking for help with a problem concerning her billionaire boyfriend and his wife’s attempt to have him declared incompetent the game is on. Throw in some b ...more
Leo Robertson
I liked this book. This was a good book.

I wonder why it is, then, that other writers can get me to abandon their shorter books written in a more coherent style? How does Pynchon compel to the end?

My theory is that Pynchon- at least here- is a mood-evoker beyond storyteller, because as hard as I try each time, I can never cling to the narrative. My eyes slide off obliquely defined characters, my brain tires of making connections between fictional place and fictional place, tangentially linked wit

(3.5 Stars)

Whenever I get the urge to torture myself with reading, I usually resort to attempting to parse Thomas Pynchon; he's usually good for a headache or two, without the "Finnegan's Wake"-esque brain freeze. I've heard "Inherent Vice" (his latest novel as of this review's writing) more than once described as Pynchon-Lite, and since I was feeling slightly nostalgic for my Los(t) Angeles days, I had to give Pynchon one more chance to torture me. I was rather surprised to discover th
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SFBC: Thomas Pynchon: Inherent Vice 2 13 Feb 16, 2014 06:35PM  
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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American writer based in New York City, noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known today: V. (1963 ...more
More about Thomas Pynchon...
The Crying of Lot 49 Gravity's Rainbow V. Mason and Dixon Vineland

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“What goes around may come around, but it never ends up exactly the same place, you ever notice? Like a record on a turntable, all it takes is one groove's difference and the universe can be on into a whole 'nother song.” 35 likes
“What, I should only trust good people? Man, good people get bought and sold every day. Might as well trust somebody evil once in a while, it makes no more or less sense.” 33 likes
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