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Inherent Vice

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  31,299 ratings  ·  2,545 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, Shasta Fay. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billio
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Penguin Press
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Keith Ah yes, shades of Nick Danger, Ralph Tirebiter and Commie Martyrs High School. Truthfully, I didn't initially think of Firesign but your question real…moreAh yes, shades of Nick Danger, Ralph Tirebiter and Commie Martyrs High School. Truthfully, I didn't initially think of Firesign but your question really brought it into focus. Inherent Vice and The Giant Rat of Sumatra!(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.

May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All them happy folks
Inherent Vice: Hidden defect (or the very nature) of a good or property which of itself is the cause of (or contributes to) its deterioration, damage, or wastage.¹

The trouble with Time is that it always proceeds forward. Reshaping and rusting all that lies in it’s path despite those that cling to the summery present of their endless numbered days, Time changes everything and leaves us with a maze of memory. Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice[2009] flourishes in it’s immersion of the death of the 60’
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Pizzaset over the Pacific


If, in Pynchonese, traveling East is to go “against the day”, into the past, memory, regret, impossibility, and if traveling West is to go “with the day”, into the future, the unknown, maturation, the coming of the next generation, toward acceptance of age and death, then where, in the geography of the imagination, is Doc Sportello’s Los Angeles? As far West as the continent can run until it comes up against the great vastness of the Pacific, and one has to stop, struc
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
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it 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
Tom Quinn
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Known best for twisty dense prose, Pynchon plays a bit more here with what isn't said. Were it published under a penname I think Inherent Vice would have been appreciated as a wild take on the noir mystery genre and little more. But as it bears Pynchon's name it comes with a lot of preconceptions and hype that leave it feeling at times weirdly underinflated. It's just not particularly heavy material, and hard to find much depth to it. Atmospheric as hell, though - Pynchon can write captivating s ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites

Who's afraid of those big fat postmodernist novels?
Apparently me, because I have known about Thomas Pynchon for years, yet I kept putting him off, too shy about making my poor synapses work harder. Once I have taken the plunge (thanks to the recently released movie), it turns out I didn't need any extra fish oil in order to make sense of the story. More surprisingly yet, Inherent Vice is first of all a FUN ride through the psychedelic landscape of California, cca 1969. I don't remember the las
Will Byrnes
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
David Katzman
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I imagine Pynchon had a great fun writing Inherent vice , mixing genres , freely borrowing from Chandler , Hammett , Coen brothers and embellishing detective novel with hippie nostalgia . I for sure had a fun reading it .

The main protagonist Doc , hybrid of Dude and Marlowe , is a surfer , a hippie and a detective . We get his dreams , memories , hallucinations , even TV series . He’s constantly spliffed up what results some really zappy scenes . Doc loves beautiful women and never refuses to
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
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
#6 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015:

A marijuana-fueled trip of a detective novel that is just crazy enough to be hilarious but never tiresome. Reads like a most enjoyable (but not less clever) version of The Crying of Lot 49. Fucking beautiful - and just when you thought Postmodern silliness was dead.
Ian "Marvin" Graye
"Tubular, Dude!"

"Inherent Vice" is often described as "Pynchon-Lite".

However, the novel’s themes are no less cerebral (or entertaining or hilarious) than it predecessors. On the basis of just one reading, I think they’re consistent with at least "The Crying of Lot 49", if not also "V" and "Gravity’s Rainbow".

"The Crying of Lot 49" was partly concerned with investigation or detection, the process by which we discover knowledge or become enlightened. In its case, the investigator was a lay person,
Michael Finocchiaro
This was a good Pynchon - a change of pace from the über-Pynchon of Mason&Dixon and Against the Day and more like his last book Bleeding Edge. The main character is great and I loved the intrigue and the dialog. The movie was really great too although apparently few people fully understood or appreciated it. Kind of Big Lebowski on meth instead of week or something. Absurd, funny, and inventive. Another great book from one of my favourite American authors of the late 20th C and early 21st C.
Pynchon for times you’d never normally consider reading Pynchon. (Okay, yeah, though, I’m not counting you peculiar, hyper-serious-brained lot who’d throw yourselves into a full-scale re-read of Gravity's Rainbow plus 350pp companion volume whilst simultaneously dealing with a temperature of 102, a divorce and a house move.)

This comedy noir detective story has a tone so perfectly pitched that – unlike Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a film which is still a lot of fun in its own right - the characters
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
Eddie Watkins
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
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 involved
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
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: R. M.
Shelves: read-2010, read-2014
God, here is another of those instances where my brain is just a totally unreliable pile of poo.

Because listen, I got SO EXCITED when I heard there was going to be a Pynchon movie made finally finally, and from such a good one! I thought, Gosh, I'd better hurry up and re-read this, which I loved so much when I first read it, so I can be all ready for the film!

Except: nope.

I'm 3/4 through the re-read (LOVING IT) and just remembered to come over here and update my shelves, and look at this craz
Steven Godin
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Who needs drugs when the world has Pynchon. A masterclass in how to get headfucked by literature.
A far out romp to daze & confuse, set in an early 70's LA that seems to have enough acid/pot to sink a battleship! Our protagonist, the P.I. Larry 'Doc' Sportello is tackling a complex set of cases as well as tackling his complex narcotics habit. Featuring a superb array of druggies, mobsters, bike gangs, cops and eccentric therapists, feels like Chandler
...where am I?
... what day
Ben Loory
Apr 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
the more pynchon i read the less i understand why anyone gives a shit about pynchon. unfunny, unoriginal, emotionally void, completely lacking in mystery, suspense, or wonder. just a bunch of "wacky" characters talkin "wacky" for 400 pages. like the worst of tarantino, minus the violence and sense of danger. ...more
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Before we start, check out this excerpt from the book:
“Doc was in the toilet pissing during a commercial break when he heard Sauncho screaming at the television set. He got back to find his attorney just withdrawing his nose from the screen.
“’Everything cool?’
“’Ahh…’ collapsing on the couch, ‘Charlie the fucking Tuna, man.’
“’It’s all supposed to be so innocent, upwardly mobile snob, designer shades, beret, so desperate to show he’s got good taste, except he’s also dyslexic so he gets ‘go
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that I've read two Pynchons, the most accessible one and the shortest one, I've gotta say that I've only scratched the surface. But it seems like reading Pynchon is like reminiscing a crazy hazy memory from the past. You pay attention, but can't keep up, everything seems surreal and weird, but you tag along 'cause it's just written so well. I'll probably pick Bleeding Edge next before moving on to other harder ones. ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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 flam
It took me far too long to finish Inherent Vice. Half a year, maybe? It pissed me off at times because I was mostly committed to Pynchon, which meant that all other fiction but one was off the limits. It’s been a long while with minimal diversification.

I am finished now, but over the course of reading Pynchon’s sprawling LA pseudo-noir, I found myself having three distinctly different responses to the book. Here is my tale of three readings.

One, the First: The first couple of months of reading
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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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

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