Out of a Marijuana Fog: Inherent Vice

Thomas Pynchon’s has a new book out this week.

Did you know that books now have video trailers? You don't have sit through five of them before you read a book - yet - but here is the one for his new book, Inherent Vice.

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon— private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog.

Thomas Pynchon was always known for not being known (as in reclusive) but I was told that he is narrating the trailer. I couldn't tell you for sure, but it doesn't sound like a voice actor. Than again... Even the narrator is shocked at the price of the book. "$27.95? That used to be like... three weeks of groceries, man. What year's this again?"

I was assigned to read his novel Gravity's Rainbow and really struggled with it. But it was introduced by the professor as "a postmodern epic - the Ulysses of our half of the century."

Set at the end of World War II, it concerns rockets by the German military, and the mysterious device (Schwarzgerät) that will be installed in a rocket #00000. Reading it I could not cling to a traditional plot or character development because it's not there.

I kept reading. I felt I had to since I was an English major. The class had very mixed reactions to the novel. We were not alone.

According to Wikipedia,

In 1974, the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction supported Gravity's Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. However, the other eleven members of the board overturned this decision, branding the book "unreadable, turgid, overwritten and obscene." The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity's Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two readers' guides and several online concordances, and it is frequently cited as Pynchon's magnum opus.

Time Magazine included the novel in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels, a list of the best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. In addition, it has appeared on several other "Greatest" lists, and is considered by some critics as one of the greatest American novels ever written.

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions,
they don't have to worry about answers." -- Gravity's Rainbow

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