I'm no pro from Dover, but I think that there are as many ways of looking at a work by Pynchon as he has storylines in each book. Inherent Vice
is definitely one of the more approachable works by a guy who can have the reader wading hip-deep through unbelievably complex prose on one hand and up to your nose in Indica, weapons, and cartoonish character names on the other. On a general level, it'd be easy to say it's closely akin to the other "California" pieces (The Crying of Lot 49
), much more so than the sprawling tomes of Against the Day
or Mason and Dixon
(for page count alone — phew!
) or the byzantine plots of V
and Gravity's Rainbow
If I cut out every third word from Inherent Vice and paste it into another book, I'd come up with Cheech and Chong's encyclopedia of '70s L.A. Now I cut out every second word and I have a post-retro-détournement of a serpentine, techie noir, William Gibson-esque thriller. And what I'm left with reminds me of the resonant emotion, individuality, and very personal tone of the likes of Haruki Murakami. But, ultimately, Pynchon's voice is always his own.