Jessica's Reviews > Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
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's review
Nov 18, 09

bookshelves: aborted-efforts, california-über-alles, crime-and-punishment, substance-related-disorders, dicklits
Recommended for: stoners with y-chromosomes

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 Sabbath, in that he tends to do more for dudes: sure, there are obviously girls out there who love both, but I think of Pynchon as dick lit, and while I can appreciate Sabbath I don't ever freak out about them the way a certain type of boy does.

I didn't think this was well-written. Okay, I'll be honest: I felt like this was written by a precocious sophomore in college who might, with some effort, write a fun novel or sitcom pilot in a few years time, if he gets his shit together and practices a lot. Like, I didn't care for the language or the rhythm, and the jokes just weren't funny; to me it felt like watching a Cheech and Chong movie that's been over-edited for television. What's weird (this is an aside) is that I love stoner movies. I don't like getting stoned, and I don't watch many movies, but I love a surprising number of movies about getting stoned.... I don't know what or why that is, but anyway, what I learned from this book is that I don't like stoner novels, at least not ones by Mr. Thomas Pynchon, purported literary genius and appealingly mysterious hermit. Maybe I was so appalled because I love the detective genre this is a spoof of, or homage to, or whatever this was – I didn’t get very far. It was like seeing a sleek, gorgeous blonde in a 1940s suit run over by a repulsive dirty man with horrendously long hair driving a neon striped VW Bug…. Ugh. God. What were people thinking?

You might be wondering – snippily, if you read and liked this book – why I tried to read it when it's clearly labeled as being a psychedelic romp or what have you, seeing as I hate the sixties so much. Well if you're wondering that, you clearly HAVEN'T SEEN THE COVER, which is the most spectacularly gorgeous and fabulous book jacket that I've seen in years, possibly in my life. I just couldn't resist it! When I saw it at the library, I ran over and actually started rubbing against it. Yeah, it was creepy. I’m sorry I did that. Lately I've been in a slump, and that's part of the reason: the books I've been picking at have got such lousy covers. Like one of the reasons I never want to pick up Middlmarch, even now that I've started to like it, is that my edition has the most vomitous cover I've ever seen in my life. It really makes me want to throw up in my mouth whenever I see it. It’s, like this paleish green with ugly leaves, the whole thing is so sick. It looks like the packaging for an off-brand scented candle that you’d see in the remaindered housewares section at Wholesale City Liquidators. I know it shouldn't matter -- we've all heard it before -- but it does matter to me. It does. A good cover feels good, it’s exciting, it is part of the allure. It's great to have that little thrill when you pull the book from your bag! Covers, like looks, are important to some of us, whether or not we would like them to be. They are.

But sorry, Mr. Pynchon. They are not everything. Not that you care what I think, you've got armies of drooling fans who would probably love to see that I meet a Sharon Tate sort of end, based on my inane inability to recognize literary mastery. To which I say: get a haircut, young man, and lay off the dope!
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