This Is Your Best Shot to Finish a Pynchon Novel

Author shifts gears, has fun with a stoner detective in the '60s

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2009 1:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thomas Pynchon's back with what appears to be his most accessible novel yet, in the unlikely category of detective fiction. Critics reviewing Inherent Vice say he pulled it off:

  • Laura Miller, Salon: It's "a sun-struck, pot-addled shaggy dog story that fuses the sulky skepticism of Raymond Chandler with the good-natured scrappiness of The Big Lebowski." The minimal structure and the genre itself provide "ample cover for Pynchon's literary weaknesses."
  • Andy Martin, Independent: "Sun-kissed, psychedelic, and sexually enhanced, Pynchon has re-embodied, re-grooved the soul of the '60s."

  • Louis Menand, the New Yorker: It's "self-consciously laid-back and funky" and "does not appear to be a Pynchonian palimpsest of semi-obscure allusions. (I could be missing something, of course. I could be missing everything.)"
  • Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times: It's 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."

Thomas Pynchon's latest.
Thomas Pynchon's latest.   (Penguin)
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Whether you think it’s funny depends a little on whether you think Cheech and Chong and the hippy-dippy weatherman are funny for more than about two minutes. It’s funnier than Chandler, anyway. - Louis Menand, New Yorker

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