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Reviewing Thomas Pynchon's 'Inherent Vice'

July 30, 2009 | 11:45 am


Our review of Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" will appear in Sunday's paper, but since it's online now, why wait? The reviewer -- well, uh, me -- says it's Pynchon doing Raymond Chandler through a James Rockford looking glass, starring Cheech or Chong. The setup is classic detective fiction, the setting the end of psychedelic 1960s Los Angeles, and the protagonist usually stoned.

We've also got an excerpt from the book coming, a full page (Page 98, if you're curious) describing the Santa Ana winds. The off-seasonally hot and eerie weather condition has appeared in classic L.A. literature, and Pynchon's version shoves its way into the pantheon right between Raymond Chandler's and Joan Didion's.

Last week, Wired launched an interactive map of Thomas Pynchon's L.A. In addition to adding sites from "Gravity's Rainbow" and "The Crying of Lot 49," early readers of "Inherent Vice" have been adding sites from it -- which include Pink's and the original Tommy's.

"Inherent Vice" goes on sale Aug. 4 -- some bookstores, including Skylight Books here in L.A., will be staying open past midnight on Monday to begin selling it at 12:01 a.m., partying for Pynchon Harry Potter-style.

Since I've had a chance to read "Inherent Vice" already, I'd be happy to answer any questions about it. Just ask in the comments.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33325372@N06/ / CC BY-SA 2.0