I am enjoying Inherent Vice a lot…an excellent mix. I seem to remember Vineland had a hippie 70s setting, too (?)
I have to say I picked up the hardback of Mason & Dixon, and simply despaired of hundreds of pages of ‘hard work’, so put it back. When I read Gravity’s Rainbow I had a cat-sitting job, a few days to myself, and a lump of Moroccan, and I just read, smoked and drank tea for several days…occasionally dozing off. I really enjoyed that read.
Then Against The Day turned up in the library, and I figured it sounded like my sort of thing “The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.”
But again, in this hectic world, such a large hardback (over 1000 pages) put itself back on the shelf.
Not to say I won’t go back to them, when I have a few days off…
Inherent Vice just drew me right in. Admittedly, with a main character you might describe as a hippie Private Investigator some readers might pick up echoes of The Dude from The Big Lebowski, or even Kinky Friedman as his alter ego P.I. – but I consider those recommendations, not faults.
So Pynchon either has an ear and an eye for sub-cultures, or maybe I should stop thinking of him as some English Lit professor (think McLuhan) and put him in a sort of Tom Robbins category. Just as he avoids publicity, I have avoided thinking about him too much.
Given that he hung out with Richard Farina in early days… Given that he would have reached 30 by 1967, perhaps he uncomfortably straddled that Beat/Hippie divide, too old for one, too young for the other. Who knows? People got drawn into that Sixties/Seventies realm who didn’t really fit or always feel comfortable (think Philip K Dick) – and I’d be the last one to romance the period, just because I found it ‘interesting times to live through’. He does appear ambiguous about the 60s.
some Pynchon resources:
Zak Smith's Illustrations For Each Page of Gravity's Rainbow
The Illustrated Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon.com on Inherent Vice and its Wiki