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Thomas Pynchon's new novel: 'Inherent Vice'

November 25, 2008 |  8:41 am

Sixtiesla

Publisher Penguin's catalog reveals details about the upcoming book by Thomas Pynchon. As previously reported, it will be a detective novel hitting shelves next summer; the news is the title, "Inherent Vice." And details about the plot:

It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there . . . or . . . if you were there, then you . . . or, wait, is it . . .

You might say I'm a little too much of a fan of "The Crying of Lot 49" -- I got only puzzled stares when I showed up at a Halloween party dressed as Oedipa Mass. But when I hear Pynchon, psychedelic sixties and billionaire land developer, I can't help but think Pierce Inverarity. Could this world overlap with the world of "The Crying of Lot 49"? Or will it be a bizarre sixties Southern California of its own?

Thanks to tireless litblogger Scott Esposito for finding the Pynchon entry in the the PDF catalog.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

 

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