Ok, so I’m about 100 pages into Inherent Vice right now, and we’ve been talking about it a little bit on the What are you reading? thread (the link goes to the page where we were talking about it, so you can catch up if you want).
I know that Elvis is King is reading it along with me, so anybody else who’s interested should start reading it and let’s go! Polaris said he could talk about Pynchon all day, and I could read about Pynchon all day, so that’s why I started this.
I guess I don’t have a particularly good OP, but let’s just continue from the other thread, k?
This is like a book club, KYOOL! Love Pynchon but to an extent. My fave of the few works of his that I’ve read is “V.” Gravity’s Rainbow was too much for me though, I almost died from the weight and complexity of it…. too bloated for my taste, I lost interest as I got totally lost in it… I’d do better reading that in a class I think.
Is Inherent Vice good so far?
Anyway, Vineland sounds really interesting, Polaris – I think that’s what I’ll get next, provided that the rest of Inherent Vice goes well…
I really like the character names in Pynchon – Oedipa and Mucho Maas, Roger Mexico, (I can’t remember his first name) Cherrycoke, and Dr. Fallopian are all just great names. I don’t really see why people would say that they’re a problem.
Odi – yeah, I’m liking Inherent Vice so far. I couldn’t finish Gravity’s Rainbow, either. I tried not to get bogged down with all the tangents, but I couldn’t even figure out what the supposedly simple mystery at the center even was. But Inherent Vice is so far a lot easier to follow, while still retaining his whole conspiratorial mood, and it’s pretty funny in a more lighthearted way than seems normal. I loved Crying of Lot 49 and thought V was pretty good, but that’s all of his I’ve read.
Well so let’s discuss — if people come on to this thread, should they start reading the book you are reading along with you?… I will need something new to read after Vanity Fair, which I’ll be done with not too long from now. Wondering if it’s worth paying a visit to the library for Inherent Vice….
You should do it, Odi! To be honest, I’m not expecting very many people to do the simultaneous reading part, but I don’t think it should be too hard to get people to do the analysis part. Or just talk about Pynchon.
I’m up for a book club. I’ll see what I can do and let you know! :D
You have to read Gravity’s Rainbow twice to understand the plot. Like the rocket, cause and effect are reversed but since there are so many things to keep track of you often forget things by the time they’re put into perspective. All writers do this to a lesser degree, but Pynchon goes nuts in GR. Like hearing a million V2 explosions and trying to pinpoint the screaming approach of each one. Impossible without time travel.
Pointsman complains that he needs an auditory animal, not a visual octopus. Why?
The hidden cameraman films Katje. Why?
Octopus Grigori is shown the film of Katje. Why?
At the Casino Hermann Goering Grigori ‘attacks’ Katje so Slothrop can ‘save’ her.
By the time of the octopus attack I had already forgotten about those earlier scenes. On a second reading you understand why Slothrop is being studied, why Pointsman complains that he needs an auditory animal etc.
I’ll probably read Inherent Vice last, after Lot 49 and Vineland.
Well I might have to take up that challenge, Mathew, because I like a challenge. Perhaps we should do GR eventually too…
^ Yeah that would probably be good – at least it would be a good motivation to truck through and finish it!
“I don’t really see why people would say that they’re a problem.”
Well the thing about a lot of people reading Pynchon is that though they ‘get’ the joke, they don’t seem to understand the sense of humor. The result goes both ways: there are those who love Pynchon because they think he’s a lot more serious than he is (the Cult of Pynchon, or people who think he’s revealing some deeper true conspiracy… see the almost laughably bad documentary Thomas Pynchon: A Journey into the Mind of [p] that works better as a companion piece to the severely underrated Das Net than as anything revelationary to Pynchon’s person), and those who hate Pynchon because they think he’s a lot more serious than he is (typically critics writing off his humor as a miscalculation/petty attempt at comedic relief undermining the Deeper Themes, or readers thinking he’s making fun of them and the opaqueness of his writing is thus a larger function of his joke on the reader).
What they tend to miss is that a lot of Pynchon’s humor is sailor humor (scatalogical, ribbing, taking the piss out of conventionality) I thus call because homeboy was in the mothofuggin’ Navy (people like to focus on the lack of details of his life rather than the details we have and he reveals readily, like for instance his introduction to Slow Learner where he is anything but remote about who he is as a person) and that though no less dramatic and ‘deep’, his books are about the cosmic joke of it all. The combination of the two explains why his characters are driven to find information about some connection they feel (but could have simply invented in their own psychological juju), and pace their journey best by, well, how much genitalia they manage to rub up against from place to place. As in ultimately the meaninglessness of their journey is the most meaningful thing, which is why they’re all connected. If there is one consistent theme I’ve picked up from Pynchon, it’s “And regardless of whatever we try to do, we tend to just live our lives anyway.”
So people don’t much like the characters names because it seems like a joke, when in fact the counterargument is “exactly.”
“I couldn’t even figure out what the supposedly simple mystery at the center even was.”
“You have to read Gravity’s Rainbow twice to understand the plot.”
In a nutshell (pun intended, as you shall see), they want Slothrop’s testicles because they are so tricked by information overload and the scientism (as Postman puts it) of the time that they believe he’s capable of predicting rocket attacks based on where he gets his poon. So Slothrop goes on the run without knowing who ‘they’ are (mostly sad, lonely scientists and people so addicted to power they’ve already destroyed themselves) and finds many outposts where people want his testicles but not disconnected from his body. He becomes, effectively, the center of the war at the time and his movements trace the changing landscape, meanwhile people are so involved doing their thing they don’t notice how much it’s changing even though they are instrumental in it.
Like real life, obviously.
“Anyway, Vineland sounds really interesting, Polaris – I think that’s what I’ll get next, provided that the rest of Inherent Vice goes well…”
If we’re going to keep on the Pynchon route beyond Inherent Vice, I vote for V. as I’ve been really eager to revisit it. But that’s just me and I also have to admit I cannot commit to keeping up with a book club here. Too many other things I really really want to get around to.
I would play if we were reading Vineland
I love the Pynchon doc; it showed me what he looked like, which was enough revelation for me (sort of resembles Mick Jaegger, somehow used to think he would be portly with short hair)
Polaris, you might have read what this China Mieville woman (I don’t know if people know who she is) said about Pynchon’s humor:
“I had been reading a bit of Thomas Pynchon, and one of the things that I always found striking about Pynchon was the extent to which a lot of his books are comedies. Against the Day and even Gravity’s Rainbow both have comedic elements. Maybe it’s kind of a wanker thing to say, but there are sections in Gravity’s Rainbow that just make me cackle every time I read them.”
Even GR?! One must be very perceptive to find the humor in a line like this:
“A C-melody saxophone player has the bell of his instrument snuggled between the widespread thighs of a pretty matron in sunglasses, yes sunglasses at night, this is some degenerate company Slothrop has fallen in with all right – the saxman is playing “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” and those vibrations are just driving her wild.”
I saw that documentary a couple weeks ago and the best thing about it was The Residents’ Third Reich ’N Roll.
I would re-read V in an instant. I own a copy.
As for humor, yes he definitely has humor and yes, like the passage Mathew quotes above it can be.. ahem. Which I like very much. :D
“Polaris, you might have read what this China Mieville woman (I don’t know if people know who she is”
I know who she is (runs with Warren Ellis, actually), but I haven’t yet gotten a chance to read any of her books. Heard great things about them, read a few covers in the store, very interesting concepts I like a lot.
In other words, on my to-do list.
Not to be obnoxious or anything, but China Mieville is a he. :) I read The City and the City and I thought it was pretty good.
But, yeah, I’d be up for reading V next, too – it would be fun to make it a kind of book club, although I’m not sure how exactly it would work.
Anyway, I’m about halfway through Inherent Vice now, and I’m really enjoying it. I cracked up when I read the passage about Doc’s acid trip, where he was a custodian named Xqq (how’s that for a ridiculous name!!) on a distant planet who had to work very complicated shifts because of the planet’s binary star system. And how the moral of the whole thing was just an explanation for why he’s shorter than most people!
“Not to be obnoxious or anything, but China Mieville is a he.”
You know I think I knew that but forgot.
Anyway, I’ve forgotten that passage but am looking forward to revisiting it. You should be approaching one of my favorite moments coming up here soon where Doc and Denis take a few days off in a, uh, burnt-out manner of speaking.
I picked up Inherent Vice at a book sale 3 months ago but have yet to read it. i’m just too busy!
Pynchon is hit and miss for me.
I’m still reading Inherent Vice. Been busy doing other more important things, involving cameras and actors and editing suites and shit. But anyway, this second time through is proving to be much like the other second time throughs, where everything makes a lot more sense and it’s easier to follow all the diversions.
I finally finished it yesterday (I’m a slow reader, I know), and I’m not really sure what to think. It was pretty good, and did all the things that Pynchon does well, but I don’t feel like it’ll be quite as memorable as Lot 49. I’m not left with as big of a sense of Something in there. Still, it was a really entertaining description and loving critique of an era, and that sense of conspiracy was there, and there were enough cool ideas to make it satisfying. But I guess I agree that it’s definitely Pynchon-lite, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing.
I don’t really have much to talk about about it yet, though, but I’m interested to see what anybody else says…
And now I have the name “Japonica Fenway” stuck in my head.