Inherent Vice - Thomas Pynchon's New Novel Set for August 2009

Gravity's Rainbow

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The Inherent Vice Wiki includes page-by-page annotations, an alphabetical index of characters, names and places (real and imagined), and a whole lot more.

August 4, 2009 — Pynchon Narrates Promotional Video for Inherent Vice

August 4, 2009 — Inherent Vice Wiki Arrives!

The wiki for Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon's latest novel, is now available, with a full index of characters real and imagined, page-by-page annotation, reviews ... the works! Registered users of Pynchon Wiki can participate in elucidating, commenting, raving, &c.

June 25, 2009 — Inherent Vice, The Movie?

Publishers Weekly reports:

Though a rep from CAA would not comment about it, we hear Bob Bookman at the agency is shopping the film rights to Thomas Pynchon's August-dropping new novel from Penguin, Inherent Vice. The notoriously reclusive Pynchon, whose biggest flirtation with Hollywood was his pixelated cameo in The Simpsons (complete with bag-over-head), has never had any of his complex postmodern prose turned into a film, so who knows what the fate of Vice will be in Tinseltown. The book, which bloggers started chattering about back in November after some outlets, like the L.A. Times, got hold of Penguin's digital jacket copy, is promised to be leaner and less weighty than some of Pynchon's previous efforts. (It's less than 400 pages, which is something for Pynchon, who's penned 1,000-plus-page tomes.) About a billionaire land developer in late '60s L.A., per Penguin, the novel might be the author's least serious. As Wired noted: "Inherent Vice sounds less like the fractal paranoia of Gravity's Rainbow and more like the deranged sunshine noir of The Big Lebowski." Certainly Lebowski might sit better with execs than Gravity's Rainbow, right?

Read the artice...

May 20, 2009:
Inherent Vice galleys also distributed to USA reviewers

Penguin has sent reviewers with long lead times galleys of Inherent Vice. Yours truly has a copy and is about a third of the way in, and I think it's going to be well received. Very much in the spirit of Vineland with some of the same entities (eg a deeper look into Kahuna Airlines) and a very similar rhythm.

May 18, 2009:
Inherent Vice galleys have been distributed in the UK

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

We have been contacted by a bookseller in the UK who received galleys of Inherent Vice about a week ago.

Here's the big-print lead on the back cover:

"He's back.... the most important and elusive writer of his generation returns with a magnificently crazy and compelling psychedelic yarn about the sixties, featuring new noir hero, private eye Doc Sportello"

We were sent the text of the first paragraph:

She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc hadn't seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half a flower-print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish t-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she'd never look.

'That you, Shasta?'

'Thinks he's hallucinating.'

'Just the new package I guess.'

They stood in the street light through the kitchen window there'd never been much point in putting curtains over and listened to the thumping of the surf from down the hill. Some nights, when the wind was right, you could hear the surf all over town.

'Need your help, Doc.'

'You know I have an office now? just like a day job and everything?'

'I looked in the phone book, almost went over there. But then I thought, better for everybody if this looks like a secret rendevous.'

Okay, nothing romantic tonight. Bummer. But it still might be a payin gig. 'Somebody's keepin' a close eye?'

'Just spent an hour on surface streets trying to make it look good.'

'How about a beer?' He went to the fridge, pulled two cans out of the case he kept inside, handed one to Shasta.

'There's this guy', she was saying.

Mar 30, 2009:
Inherent Vice now listed, with cover art, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

The cover art has been slightly modified for the better (purple and green fonts, instead of blue and yellow, and they're 3D; "A Novel" has been removed), but it's basically the same design, with the Darshan Zenith artwork "Eternal Summer." Amazon lists it for $18.45; Barnes & Noble lists it for $18.86.

You can Pre-order Inherent Vice at Amazon.com.

Here is the description, which is the same on both websites:

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.

It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there ... or ... if you were there, then you ... or, wait, is it ...

About the Author
Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon, and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Feb 13, 2009: Jonathan Cape secures UK publishing of Inherent Vice

According to Victoria Gallagher's post on Bookseller.com, Inherent Vice will be published in the UK by Jonathan Cape on August 6, 2009, two days following the US publication by Penguin. Here's a snippet:

Set in 1960s Los Angeles, the novel is described as "part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon". Private eye Doc Sportello meets up with an ex-girlfriend who is plotting to kidnap a billionaire, which draws Sportello into a "bizarre tangle" with a cast of characters said to include surfers, hustlers, rockers and a murderous loan-shark, as well as "an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and fondness for [actress/singer] Ethel Merman."

[Dan] Franklin called the book "a joy. It's brilliant on LA — specifically LA just after the Manson murders — and Pynchon's take on the old triumvirate of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll is, as always, like no other writer's," he said.

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Latest Version of Inherent Vice Dustjacket Cover Art

At right is the latest version of the cover art for Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, set for publication on August 4, 2009. The artist is Darshan Zenith and the art director at Penguin is Darren Haggar. As you can see, the font has been changed, and for the better, IMHO. It looks quite lovely, eh?

Just click the image to view an enlargement.

 

 

From Penguin's Summer 2009 Catalog - Inherent Vice

Thomas Pynchon
Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there ... or ... if you were there, then you ... or, wait, is it ... 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.

ISBN: 978-1-59420-224-7
Price: $27.95/$31.00 Can.
EAN: 9781594202247 52795
Category: Fiction
Pages: 416
Trim: 6 1/8" x 9 1/4"
Rights: E00
On Sale: 8/4/09
STRICT ON SALE
AVAILABLE FROM PENGUIN AUDIO
Unabridged * 13 CDs, 15 Hours
978-0-14-314476-2
@ $39.95/$44.00 Can.

Cover Art by Maui, Hawaii Artist Darshan Zenith

1959 Maui Kaui Hawaii Surf Shop by Darshan Zenith

The cover illustration is by Maui artist Darshan Zenith. The piece is called "Cadillac Hearse" or, perhaps, "Eternal Summer" — "A 'Retired' Caddy Hearse Greets Daybreak at a Beach Surf Shop" — and is one of many prints available on his Cruiser Art website. The 1959 Cadillac Hearse is parked in front of the "Endless Summer Surf Shop" (namechecking the Beach Boys Greatest Hits collection and Bruce Brown's 1966 surfing documentary!). (Thanks to the Pynchon List for identifying the image.)

Apparently, Pynchon was searching the Web for the right image for the Inherent Vice cover, found the Cruiser Art website and the "Caddy Hearse" piece, and wanted to use it. Penguin contacted Cruiser Art and obtained the appropriate permissions. Darren Haggar is Penguin's art director for this project.

The way Darshan creates his pieces is quite interesting. He paints only the background of the image (the sky, sea, palm trees &c.) and scans the painting into his computer. He then uses 1:18-scale metal diecast models of the cars, photographed against a white background, and loads the digital photo into the computer. From this point on, it's all Photoshop, integrating the car image into the background painting, and then creating the details with Photoshop tools. So the final work is a digital creation, and there is no original painting of the work. I was told that the basic structure of the surf shack was also part of the original painting for the Caddy Hearse piece. Also, Darshan apparently had the 1966 Bruce Brown film in mind when naming the shack "Endless Summer."

Update: Cruiser Art sent along a link to the same model they used for the painting, now on sale on eBay. It's a 1959 Cadillac Crown Royal Limousine Style Hearse. Steve Rummel, Darshan's business partner, adds: "We painted the landau top white.  Notice it comes complete with a casket, but we couldn't figure any way to use it."

Excerpt from Inherent Vice

She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc hadn't seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower-print bikini, faded Country Joe and the Fish T-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she'd never look.

"That you, Shasta? The packaging fooled me there for a minute."

"Need your help, Doc."

They stood in the streetlight through the kitchen window there'd never been much point putting curtains over and listened to the thumping of the surf from down the hill. Some nights, when the wind was right, you could hear the surf all over town.

Nobody was saying much. What was this? "So! You know I have an office now? Just like a day job and everything?"

"I looked in the phone book, almost went over there. But then I thought, better for everybody if this looks like a secret rendezvous."

OK, nothing romantic tonight. Bummer. But it might be a paying gig. "Somebody's keeping a close eye?"

"Just spent an hour on surface streets trying to make it look good."

"How about a beer?" He went to the fridge, pulled two cans out of the case he kept inside, handed one to Shasta.

"There's this guy," she was saying.

There would be. No point getting emotional. And if he had a nickel for every time he'd heard a client start off this way, he would be over in Hawaii now, loaded day and night, digging the waves at Waimea, or better yet hiring somebody to dig them for him .... "Gentleman of the straight-world persuasion," he beamed.

"OK, Doc. He's married."

"Some ... money situation."

She shook back hair that wasn't there and raised her eyebrows so what.

Groovy with Doc. "And the wife — she knows about you?"

Shasta nodded. "But she's seeing somebody too. Only it isn't just the usual number — they're working together on some creepy little scheme."

"To make off with hubby's fortune, yeah, I think I heard of that happenin' once or twice around L.A. And ... you want me to do what exactly?" He found the paper bag he'd brought his supper home in and got busy pretending to scribble notes on it, because straight-chick uniform, makeup supposed to look like no makeup or whatever, here came that old well-known hard-on Shasta was always good for sooner or later. Does it ever end, he wondered. Of course it does. It did.

Read the latest Los Angeles Times article - November 25, 2008 »

......................................................................

Previously....

Los Angeles Times - Carolyn Kellogg

October 3, 2008

Rumors have begun circulating that Thomas Pynchon is at work on a new novel. And the rumors are pretty specific. Author Steven Moore has spoken to someone connected to Pynchon:

The rep told me it's around 400 pages, and is a kind of noir detective story set in the 1960s, with lots of psychedelia as background. How groovy is that!

The famously reclusive Pynchon has never been known for working fast. Fans waited 17 years after "Gravity's Rainbow" for "Vineland," and then another seven for "Mason & Dixon." In 2006 — after nine more years — "Against the Day" was published. That novel was, for some, a return to Pynchon at his best: funny, complicated, absurd, smart. Others had kind of a love-hate relationship to the book, like "The Economist," which wrote:

Is it any good ? Baffling, yes. Clever and inventive in a cackling, manic, mad-professor kind of way, yes. Intermittently warmed by paragraph-long sunbeams of iridescent prose-poetry, yes. Rambling, pompous and often completely incomprehensible — yes to all that too.

Packed with scientific ephemera, "Against the Day" was massive — 1,085 pages — and came out less than two years ago. Some readers were exhausted by it. Pynchon, certainly, wouldn't be blamed for taking a rest. But here it is, 22 months since his last book, and we're hearing news of a novel in progress that has not just a premise (noir), not just a tone (psychedelic), but a page count! And it's due next year, in 2009!

This rumor started on a William Gaddis mailing list. And while it might be nothing more than an Internet rumor, the idea of an Internet rumor fits so well into Pynchon's themes of paranoia and secret information that fans (like me) can't help but embrace it. I'm going to go finish the last 400 pages of "Against the Day" so I can be ready.

Los Angeles Times

 

Thomas Pynchon
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon