Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon — Review
Originally written September 2022
I started Inherent Vice a few weeks ago even though I was in the middle of several other books, because I was going to Southern California for the first time (for work). I figured why not! Maybe I’d swing by Manhattan Beach on the way from LAX to Pasadena (where the office is)! Maybe I could take a selfie in front of Pynchon’s old apartment for instagram clout! LA traffic and the heat ensured none of this happened, of course. But I did go to LACMA, and talk to a lifelong resident who did the uptalk? and the accent?
I think this should have been the first Pynchon I read, not The Crying of Lot 49. It was frankly more fun, more approachable, and although longer, felt like a quicker read. It also helps that there’s a very pretty, very funny and overall good movie, even though it skips over some themes and condenses things.
Inherent Vice is a lesson in LA real estate, its sordid history and the subsumption of so-called counterculture by the powers that be. Being a dirty idealist hippie is fine as long as you’re not a threat to power and/or capital. Sooner or later you’ll run afoul of it and it will either break you or mold you. And if you try to stick it out, they’ll burn you down and build a park on top.