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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  8,920 ratings  ·  569 reviews
Seventeen years after he shocked and dazzled readers with Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon returns with a novel as astonishing, as kaleidoscopic, as funny, and as satisfying as that legendary work. Vineland is peopled with a startling array of quirky characters and combines elements of daytime drama and the political thriller, resulting in a haunting evocation of 20th-cen ...more
Paperback, 385 pages
Published 1991 by Penguin USA (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,920 ratings  ·  569 reviews

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Vineland is downplayed by Pynchon fans and completely ignored by curious newbies, who tend to pass over it in favour either of the big-game status of one of his doorstop meganovels, or of the appealing slenderness of The Crying of Lot 49. Shame. All his gifts and his mysteries are on display here, wrapped up in one of his most enjoyable, inexplicable, and lushly all-enveloping plots. Rereading it now, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s terribly underrated.

The essential storyline, if there is
Mar 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phenomenal, read-2007
So when you think of Pynchon you think of serious work, right? And trudgery and difficulty and obfuscation and pedanticism, and like this dizzying thing that just makes you feel unintellectual and slow for never being able to catch up, right?

Well if that is the case, you have never read Vineland . Because oh. my. god. This book is so fucking good.

I'm not going to try to summarize or anything, because this book is too sprawling and reeling, and anyway that would be an afront to its amazingness.
Steven Godin
This is without a doubt one of the most insane books ever written, even by Pynchon's standards this is something else, the characters are bonkers, the story if you could call it that is nuts!, not a lot makes sense, the writing feels schizophrenic, there are moments that could have come from things such as, James Bond, Tarantino, Asian ninja flicks, cartoons, the hippie movement, 80's action B-movies, spirituality and a whole lot more. The one thing that's in it's favour is the fact it was just ...more
The novel transports him back to California, the country he has often visited, even lived in, but which still seems like a dream, everything too vivid, too distinct, too much to be real, the Pacific viewed from halfway up a mountain, separated into bands progressing from aquamarine to eggshell, sea transformed into sky in a series of gradations as precise as the steps in a theorem, the ever-present background hum of violence occasionally coalescing into tangible form, raised voices from the lobb ...more
Adam Dalva
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pynchon's most underrated, I think - a bighearted, funky read; a worthy 3rd "V" book.
"...everybody's a hero at least once, maybe your chance hasn't come up yet."
- Thomas Pynchon, Vineland


I first read Vineland about 25+ years. It was my sophomore year in college. I was idealistic and I met this guy in the college bookstore named Thomas Pynchon. Since it was my FIRST (or was The Crying of Lot 49 my first?) Pynchon, I think I missed way more than I gained (except for the desire for MORE Pynchon). Looking back now, Pynchon for me starts to divide into his BIG GREAT novels and his f
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everybody always told me Vineland was Pynchon’s worst effort - what? No way no how, brothers and sisters, this here is an endless DNA chain or like Russian doll of embedded story after story descending and re-emerging through various strata of narratorial layers, pop culture send-ups, genre parodies, all funny as hell and twisted and ridiculous while also extremely smart and painted with mind-tweaking flights down and up imaginative spiral staircases! And there’s so much heart in this book this ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nathan Redman
If Three Should Be Five

I first read “Vineland” some time in the 90’s. Based on an imperfect recollection of it, I rated it three stars when I joined GoodReads. I’ve raised my rating to five stars, partly because of how much fun I had reading it a second time.

I can’t think of a better novel to read between now and when we emerge safely into the Post-Trump era.

Reprise and Foreshadow

“Vineland” reprises the longing and quest for an absent woman that was at the heart of “V” (in this case, the daug
I don’t usually finish a book and start a review in the same breath. But I also don’t usually allow myself to read more than one of an author’s works within a calendar year (many books, little time, etc. -- though of course Stephen King would be this year’s other exception because the Tower, all things yield to it): T. Ruggs, you magnificant bastard, I hope you know how many personal rules I’m violating because you’re the first time since auspiciously picking up my first collection of Bukowski p ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pynchonian zaniness + fibrous nutrition at the sentence level + fun to read + hermeneutical-political + leaving plenty of lacunae in immediate comprehension to commit intellectual effervescence, not to mention I’m of an age to not to have to look up most of the cultural references.
Michael Finocchiaro
While not for me his strongest book, Vineland shows very Pychonian characters trying to work out their relationships to each other. There is even a big Hollywood style ending (probably a pastiche/parody) to the story. I found that the backdrop was less the chaos and anarchy that I appreciated in Gravity's Rainbow, Mason&Dixon and Against the Day and so I appreciated this one less than those. I would put it low in the Pychon canon but still suggest that it is worth reading for his insights in ...more
Kristen Shaw
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gravity's Rainbow is the flashy intellectual you date for a few months before discovering his/her pretensions to be vaguely problematic long-term; Vineland (like Zoyd) is the partner you keep around for while, who cuddles you at night and makes fancy herbal tea. I'll stay friends with Gravity's Rainbow always, but Vineland hit me really hard and my allegiance is to the latter - as a more accessible, beautifully-written but nonetheless still-Deleuzian brain fuck of healthy proportions.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had a preconceived notion of what just how good Vineland would be before I read it. My opinions about the book have been influenced by numerous accounts of how weak it was. After having read everything that preceded Pynchon's fourth novel, it's still difficult for me to wholeheartedly disagree, even though I thoroughly enjoyed some parts of it. It made me laugh...but even though I wasn't an avid fan when it was published in 1990, I still couldn't help wonder why this was the book that Pynchon ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Unjustly considered a happy-go-lucky slapstick comedy of a novel, Vineland is in fact quite dark and bitter in its potrait of what went wrong with the 60s. There's humor, sure, but lots of capital E Evil too. A novel of ideas more than character, more I think than any other Pynchon's, it might work well as a starting point for those looking to pop their Pynchon cherry, although I still believe Inherent Vice works better.
Aiden Heavilin
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In, "Against the Day", Pynchon describes "prophesiers who had seen America as it might be in visions America's wardens could not tolerate," and Vineland is one of these visions. In luscious, lyrical beauty, this novel lays out Pynchon's idealistic portrait of what America might have been, and then explores how this vision was subverted, the weaknesses in this vision that always existed, to be exploited by governments and corporations, denied and destroyed. To me, Vineland is both the most hopefu
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
«Watch the paranoia, please!»

This was my third go at trying to gradually voyage through Pynchon's oeuvre, having read Lot 49 and Inherent Vice before. Based on the immediate impression, Vineland is probably my least favorite of the three, but that's not to say there aren't countless diamonds hidden along the pages of this book. The story is set in Northern California in 1984, in the midst of the Reagan era, and is largely an elegy for the late 60s countercultural movement. We follow numerous cha
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, owned-books, 2018
Reread 24.09.2018- 07.10.2018

I'm learning that Pynchon is only better the second time around. Against the Day next?


So that's it for my third Pynchon. Coming down from a sort of high after reading Mason & Dixon about a month ago, I had pretty high expectiations going into this one.

Well, what's it all about? As usual Pynchon has a lot of sub-plots going on, characters disappearing and then coming back into the stor
Sentimental Surrealist
For as big of a fall from Pynchon's first three novels as it is, and for as massive as an improvement as follow-ups were, it's hard to really stay mad at Vineland. While V. and The Crying of Lot 49 were fine novels in their own right, they also seem to function as lead-ups to Gravity's Rainbow, far and away the peak of early-period Pynchon, and arguably all of Pynchon's career, although Mason and Dixon puts up a good challenge in that regard. After you've hit your peak, where is there to go but ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Bennet's review
Has anyone else ever employed such loopy, labyrinthine, lovely language to tell such weird and wackily written tales? I think not.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pynchon, 2019-read
And everyone lived happily ever after....

Not my favorite Pynchon, but was much better than what I was expecting. There was a lot of funny shit in this one. One of my favorite funnies, Pee-Wee Herman in The Robert Musil Story.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dazed and Confused

Am I now a part of the Establishment? You know, too instep with The Man, man. Or maybe I've lost too many brain cells on some mean partying long ago to truly get Pynchon.

I've read Gravity's Rainbow, Inherent Vice and now Vineland. Only the first one could I not stand--what, with its shit-eating grins [literally], its patent pedophilia and insane incest.

Reading Vineland--and to a lesser degree Inherent Vice--is like being dropped into a time and place, being surrounded by a mul
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pop culture is evil and Vineland is Thomas Pynchon’s idiosyncratic attack on pop culture.
“It ain't that I don' have Hollywood connections. I know Ernie Triggerman. Yeah and Ernie's been waiting years for the big Nostalgia Wave to move along to the sixties, which according to his demographics is the best time most people from back then are ever going to have in their life — sad for them maybe, but not for the picture business. Our dream, Ernie's and mine, is to locate a legendary observer-partici
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
First, the plot is ridiculous. Pynchon is one politically pissed-off and paranoid dude. The result is that characters act as they should not; indeed, could not. Plenty of reviewers have made the point, however, that one doesn't read Pynchon for the plot. Well, why read him?

Because the writing is brilliant. I didn't care how the story ended. After tangent after segue after tangent and another morphing tangent, who could care. You either drop Pynchon after 50 pages or you hang on for the ride. Par
Daniel Chaikin
60. Vineland by Thomas Pynchon
Published: 1990
format: 385 page paperback
acquired: 2007 from the annual Houston Public Library book sale
read: Sep 9-23
rating: 3 stars

Back when I bought this I had only a vague idea of who Pynchon was. I was excited to get this book, then disappointed to learn that no one actually likes it. (That's an exaggeration. There is a nice review here) But, I'm reading all of Pynchon (maybe) and this was next. And, I was intrigued that this was Pynchon's first new work in 1
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american-lit
'Vineland' is a singular novel, the first by Pynchon that I've read. (I had a try with 'Against the Day' years ago, but couldn't get into it before the library wanted it back.) The paranoia and drug-taking reminded me of Phillip K Dick's 'A Scanner Darkly', with the atmosphere and character focus of Don DeLillo's 'White Noise'. The writing style is distinctive, though, with rambling paragraph-sentences constantly sliding into lists. Each chapter seems to end in a sort of prose poem. For this rea ...more
I read this when it first came out and I have to say I enjoyed it even more the second time through!

Will write more later, but I will say, a good read to contrast with our new world of internet espionage.
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Far less intimidating than his great, overwrought Gravity's Rainbow, this 1990 novel presents a zany spoof satirical thriller on the surface, with an order of Harley-riding nuns, ninjettes, Reaganaught law enforcement agencies, 1960's radicals who have been driven underground or turned informants, and their mall-seeking children.

With his trademark humor and his prose (such maddening prose, veering from beautiful and lyrical to stunted and awful) he undertakes an ambitious critique of America's p
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was getting a PhD in English, I refused to read Pynchon because I thought the last thing the world needed was another book by a modernist author who trying to be more difficult than Joyce.

Then I picked up Vineland out of a bargain bin, and realized it was probably the funniest thing I had ever read. Pynchon is an incredible comic writer.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, entertaining, outlandish, fairly comprehensible novel set in 1984 in the fictional town of Vineland, California. There are a number of interesting characters who we learn about through their backstories, the plot twists and turns unpredictably, there are lots of weird songs - some quite funny and there is a satisfactory plot resolution. It's about the relationship of the State and the individual, who wield's power and who resists.

Zoyd Wheeler marries Frenesi and they have one ch
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let anyone fool you -- this is the best Pynchon novel of 'em all.

There's a bunch of reasons, but the main thing is that this one has all the fabulous Pynchonian weirdness and wackiness, but it - pretty much alone of all his works - also coheres as a well-structured novel. The characters are wonderfully alive: it's got one of the sweetest and most real father-teenage-daughter relationships in any book I've ever read, women who are complex and behave like actual people, and character motiva
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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
“It would all be done with keys on alphanumeric keyboards that stood for weightless, invisible chains of electronic presence or absence. If patterns of ones and zeroes were "like" patterns of human lives and deaths, if everything about an individual could be represented in a computer record by a long strings of ones and zeroes, then what kind of creature could be represented by a long string of lives and deaths? It would have to be up one level, at least -- an angel, a minor god, something in a UFO. It would take eight human lives and deaths just to form one character in this being's name -- its complete dossier might take up a considerable piece of history of the world. We are digits in God's computer, she not so much thought as hummed to herself to sort of a standard gospel tune, And the only thing we're good for, to be dead or to be living, is the only thing He sees. What we cry, what we contend for, in our world of toil and blood, it all lies beneath the notice of the hacker we call God.” 24 likes
“Easy. They just let us forget. Give us too much to process, fill up every minute, keep us distracted, it's what the Tube is for, and though it kills me to say it, it's what rock and roll is becoming - just another way to claim our attention, so that beautiful certainty we had starts to fade, and after a while they have us convinced all over again that we really are going to die. And they've got us again.” 18 likes
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