New Pynchon is Critics’ Feast

Mixed reviews of Thomas Pynchon’s much-anticipated new detective novel, Inherent Vice, are rolling in as the book goes on sale. Some bookstores in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Manhattan even hosted midnight parties so that fervent fans could purchase it at the first possible moment, according to Galley Cat. Yet reserves are light in libraries we checked.

New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani calls it “Pynchon lite.” She doesn’t hate it as much as Pynchon’s Against the Day, (which she refers to as “bloated and pretentious”)instead calling Inherent Vice

“a simple shaggy-dog detective story that pits likable dopers against the Los Angeles Police Department and its ‘countersubversive’ agents, a novel in which paranoia is less a political or metaphysical state than a byproduct of smoking too much weed.”

The Wall Street Journal gives the opposite spin, wondering if this new novel could actually be

“a classic Pynchon opus masquerading as a light read.”

Then again, New York magazine reviewer Sam Anderson confesses that he categorically hates Pynchon’s books, and savages Inherent Vice as 

“a manically incoherent pseudo-noir hippie-mystery that should fit in nicely with the author’s recent series of quirky late-career non-masterpieces (Mason & Dixon, Against the Day).”

And finally, the Los Angeles Times defends the novel’s climax, its “cushy denouement” and its willingness to tie up loose ends: 

“If this stands in counterpoint to Pynchon’s most acclaimed work, perhaps we should pay heed to the novel’s title: ‘Inherent Vice’ refers to a hidden defect that undermines a property’s worth… it could refer to the author’s work itself: With Pynchon’s brilliance comes readability.”

See Flavorwire for a more detailed review roundup.

Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2009-08-04)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202249 / 9781594202247

Also available from Penguin Audiobooks

  • CD: $39.95; ISBN 9780143144762

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