Tonawanda News — While some reader’s minds may shoot to the mental labyrinths of Pynchon’s most famous works such as “Gravity’s Rainbow” — sometimes compared to James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in incomprehensibility — note that in the initial New York Times review of the book, “Inherent Vice” was cited as “Pynchon-lite,” noting its “mainstream appeal.” Many go as far as to call it a beach read.
While the topics presented in “Vice” may not really be beach-worthy, Pynchon’s work certainly is not as dramatic or suspenseful as what he has done in the past. Even the paranoia and conspiracies threaded throughout – a staple of Pynchon’s style – can simply be written off to Doc being heavily under the influence of pot. While this more light-hearted approach may have some readers missing the denser Pynchon of old, there’s no doubt “Vice” offers much more in terms of immediate comprehension and enjoyment.
That’s not to say the novel is all sunshine and rainbows. Taking place right after the Charles Manson murders, a dark backdrop of the end of the hippie era surrounds “Inherent Vice.” While many people Doc meets appreciate his laid-back style, just as many have grown tired of his kind, and have no problem voicing their opinions. Some even get violent. Take, for example, Doc’s longtime partner and now LAPD nemesis, Detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen, who has no problem knocking Doc out cold when he starts to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong.
Half hardboiled crime, half “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Inherent Vice” may be too light-hearted and funny for some of Pynchon’s biggest fans. Those who feel Pynchon’s work has always been about the absurdity and uncertainty of our lives, however, will find that “Inherent Vice” fits in just fine among the author’s past works.
Dean Goranites publishes weekly video book reviews at unleashthis.tumblr.com, and can be reached through Twitter at unleash_this.• WHAT: "Inherent Vice" • BY: Thomas Pynchon • Publisher: Penguin Books • GRADE: C+