The Penguin Press, 2009
When I first read Gravity’s Rainbow, I was blown away, probably because I’d never read anything like it. With each subsequent book by Pynchon that I’ve read–V., The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland–I’ve been less impressed. A few others I couldn’t get past the first paragraph. But when Inherent Vice came out, I thought I should give him another try. I made it past the first paragraph, but almost didn’t get past the second page, where I read the following sentence:
“They went in the front room and Doc laid down on the couch and Shasta stayed on her feet and sort of drifted around the place.”
That “laid” should be “lay” of course. I’ve tried to defend the error on voice, but apart from some jumbled syntax, mostly in dialogue, this narrative doesn’t make errors like this. I’m more forgiving of typos, which I occasionally see. This kind of mistake bugs me.
That aside, though, I had a hard time getting through this book. It dazzles. It entertains. It’s wonderfully twisted. But I never felt like I cared. I just wanted it to be over.
The book is the story of Doc Sportello, a hippie private investigator who is tangled up in some serious messes–corrupt cops, corrupt real estate deals, corrupt casinos, drug deals, etc. He smokes a lot of dope, he has sex, he gets shot at and chased, etc. It’s tripped-out L.A. noir, with a twist. Eventually, Doc figures out what’s going on and the ending is satisfying, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort to get that far. I’m thinking I should have stopped after the second page.