Eddie’s review of Inherent Vice > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Is much of the writing intentionally slack and somewhat sloppy to kinda, you know, mirror the dopers' unfocused minds? Very entertaining though...

message 2: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Lifeless... strained... I'll try back again later.

message 3: by Kimley (new)

Kimley Uh oh, abandoned already?

message 4: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins I blame myself, but after 120 pages 3/4ths of it fell flat - forced, not funny, shallow. I'm not abandoning it, just putting it aside. Maybe next week I'll zip through it in 2 days and love it.

message 5: by Kimley (new)

Kimley Sounds like a good plan. There are plenty of times I've started a book, couldn't get into it and then picked it up later only to love it.

Then again, everyone is saying this is "Pynchon-lite" so...

A lot of my friends are reading this. It'll be interesting to see the consensus.

message 6: by Jimmy (last edited Aug 07, 2009 10:21AM) (new)

Jimmy It's definitely lighter fare, but it's another perfect example of Pynchon's stylistic resilience. I mean, look at Against the Day; it was a veritable buffet of genre-bending. Inherent Vice is intentional pastiche, and so far I'm finding that it's much better than Vineland, a novel that it shares similarities with, historically. I'm finding the storytelling to have that classic, fluid hilarity, but I do agree that it doesn't really have that same energy that V., Gravity's Rainbow, and Mason & Dixon had. Personally, I'm happy with it so far, for what it is anyway.

message 7: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Yeah it seems to be intentionally written as pulp (or rather intentionally as pastiche of pulp), with little depth and all plot twists, and even the slackness of the prose could be intentional, to emphasize the zoned out dopiness; but my cynical side says he just did all this out of laziness.

But I'll probably pick it up tomorrow or next week and tune right into its doper's wavelength and read it right off and dig it.

message 8: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy True, it may just be laziness on his behalf. At this point I'm sure that, more than ever before, he doesn't really care about what sort of critical reception his books get. To my mind, he'll never really write anything on the level with the three major aforementioned epics, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd imagine that the unrealistic critical pressure that people lay on him just doesn't really concern him anymore.

So, for my own reasons, I'm sort of pleased with how laid back he was about this one, and who knows, maybe he has one last masterpiece up his sleeve.

message 9: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins I'm sure he doesn't care what people think, and maybe he is trying to create the impression of an old novelist relaxing in a beach chair spinning out a yarn; but then some aging novelist's create their own 401(k) plans - Late in life they relax their ambitions and use their skills to crank out potboilers that are quickly made into movies - McCarthy did it with Old Men and Road - so maybe that's what Pynchon is doing here.

message 10: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Whoa! The rating suggests a sharp turnaround in your assessment?

And I'm waiting for the McCarthy fans to come roaring in with challenges to your characterization of his motives for (and accomplishments with) Old Men/Road...

message 11: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Yeah... can I tell you why? I went home Friday, ate an Alice B. Toklas brownie, buried my face in the book, and everything clicked. Any reviewer who has panned it should try my method of critical reappraisal.

It still pales in comparison to his biggies, not nearly as reverberative, but I found it at least as good as Vineland. And some of the prose and jokes still fell flat, but there's also sweetness, delicious sex, spot on descriptions of being stoned, and it closes with a lovely and ambiguous scene of driving through fog. It's Pynchon being minimal and the book as a whole somehow called to mind a poem or a song.

message 12: by Tosh (new)

Tosh So far I am impressed with his research on Southern California pop culture. He's right on the mark with various references. I was a teenager at the time, and this book brings back a lot of memories for me. And the locations that are mentioned are places that I know about or often visited. And lived, like Topanga Cyn.

And even the jacket! It's so ugly like a 70's book jacket. Kind of brilliant so far.

message 13: by Chris (new)

Chris The reaction to this book should be interesting. The Pynchonites are going to read this even if they've never read a crime novel before. I imagine that many of those who don't like (or look down on) the genre will be disappointed, will call it lesser Pynchon, and will wish for better things next time. But I bet some will really like it and will start looking for other crime fiction.

I haven't read anything from Pynchon until now. I was drawn to this particular book because of its genre and its awesome cover. (Yeah, that's right, I think the cover kicks ass.) I'm only a third of the way into the book but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I don't have any other Pynchon for comparison but so far this is one of the better crime novels I've read. Hell, I may even decide to read one of his doorstoppers now.

Here's a Newsweek article about authors of Literature "slumming" with crime fiction.

message 14: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Pynchon can always be counted on to do his research.

I think the cover's pretty tacky, but it's growing on me. There's a scene late in the book that describes almost exactly the cover image, except that the boards are where the coffins were in the hearse, not on the roof. I wonder if he added the scene after he chose the cover image?

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

So this is more of a page-turner than Pynchon's other novels? If so, it has the potential to be the first one from him that I can actually read for a change.

Chris: That link to the Newsweek article reminds me of an editorial from Film Comment about the alarming number of films at Cannes this year that are, in his eyes, genre films. Everyone's slumming it, apparently.

message 16: by Eddie (last edited Aug 10, 2009 12:59PM) (new)

Eddie Watkins Definitely a page turner, but don't go too fast because you might miss some important details. Ingesting a pot brownie beforehand helps with this slowdown, while at the same time keeping you attuned to details.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Ha ha, I have never had a pot brownie before but I do have some friends who could hook me up with one. Hell, it'd probably make their day to do so.

message 18: by Joe (new)

Joe Mossa
there should be a SPOILER ALERT here but my post no 18 won t help readers..sad..

message 19: by Eddie (last edited Sep 06, 2009 02:25PM) (new)

Eddie Watkins The SPOILER ALERT is a silly function. I never use it and I don't know why anyone else does either.

message 20: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy Eddie wrote: "The SPOILER ALERT is a silly function. I never use it and I don't know why anyone else does either. "

Agreed. The SPOILER ALERT is pretty annoying, possibly even more annoying than the spoiling of plots. Except for Jodi Piccoult's stuff. I hate it when people ruin her books for me, god do I hate that.

message 21: by Jimmy (last edited Sep 06, 2009 03:01PM) (new)

Jimmy Jimmy wrote: "Eddie wrote: "The SPOILER ALERT is a silly function. I never use it and I don't know why anyone else does either. "

Agreed. The SPOILER ALERT is pretty annoying, possibly even more annoying than ..."

Also, Pynchon is probably about as concerned with plot structure as Yasujiro Ozu was.

message 22: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins I'm not even sure what I ruined for old Joe... I did describe the final scene and what it meant to me, but Pynchon's plots are typically endlessly ramifying affairs, with meaning scattered throughout in equal measure, not straight lines to a final magic curtain.

Ahh Ozu, I watched one of his films 3 or 4 times, by accident, because all his plot synopses sounded so similar and I could never tell if I had seen that particular one yet or not. And it didn't help that even the titles were just slight variations of each other. But that was years ago.

message 23: by Jimmy (last edited Sep 06, 2009 05:14PM) (new)

Jimmy Eddie wrote: "Ahh Ozu, I watched one of his films 3 or 4 times, by accident, because all his plot synopses sounded so similar and I could never tell if I had seen that particular one yet or not. And it didn't help that even the titles were just slight variations of each other. But that was years ago."

I've always found this criticism of Ozu's work to be beside the point. The pleasure of watching one of his films is to be found solely in their technical brilliance. He elicited some amazing performances from Setsuko Hara, and Chishu Ryu; but on the whole, as I mentioned, plot was somewhat irrelevant. And his characters were basically puppets; they really had no creative autonomy as far as movement and dialogue went. Still, if you're paying enough attention to what is going on, the familial dynamics between characters run a lot deeper than the outlying story tends to. As is the case with someone such as Bela Tarr, or Robert Bresson, it just takes patience, a level of patience that I've noticed most critics of his work are completely lacking.

Anyway, just to be clear, this isn't intended as a personal attack. It's just that I've noticed how a lot of people, very perceptive cinephiles even, tend to shrug off the Ozu canon because they find his films either redundant or boring. The truth is that they are missing out on a lot.

message 24: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Jimmy, I was actually making fun of myself for getting confused by the superficial similarities of his films. Perhaps I wasn't clear. I love Ozu. I wouldn't've watched the same movie three times if I didn't. He's one of the absolute masters, and his subtle perfections only get better and better the more you watch him.

I remember watching Wender's Tokyo-Ga and being very moved by Chishu Ryu's obvious worshipful devotion of Ozu. He said he didn't even consider himself an actor, he was just obeying.

message 25: by Feliks (new)

Feliks Good review.

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