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About the book
  • Published: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099542162
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

Inherent Vice

The legendary author of V and Gravity's Rainbow is back with a taut, psychedelic yarn, about the sixties, featuring private eye Doc Sportello...

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...

  • Pub date: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099542162
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Thomas Pynchon

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, Against the Day, Inherent Vice and, most recently, Bleeding Edge. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

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Praise for Inherent Vice

“The intellectual game-play is characteristically dazzling...colourful and pleasurable”

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney

“A blast of psychedelic paisley noir; both brilliant and brain boggling by turns”

Helen Brown, Daily Mail

“Shorter and easier to read than any of Pynchon's previous novels...characteristically hilarious and thought-provoking”

Thomas Jones, The London Review of Books

“Pynchon leaves the rest of the American literary establishment at the starting gate...the range over which he moves is extraordinary, not simply in terms of ideas explored but also in the range of emotions he takes you through”

Time Out

“The most important and mysterious writer of his generation”


“Throughout Pynchon's style is spot-on, capturing what Hunter S Thompson called the high, wild sound of the era, a sense of enthusiasm and boundless opportunity, even though you know the times are changing, and not necessarily in your favour...Pychon continues to draw his inspiration from genre fiction and pulp. Its more fun this way”

Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

“Often very funny...may be his most readable novel. Remarkably, it features both a sympathetic protagonist and a recognisable plot, albeit one that is as impossible to summarise as any other Pynchon shaggy dog tale”

Sarah Churchwell, The Observer

“One of America's most wilful and obscure writers has produced the most enjoyable beach read of the summer”

Tim Martin, Saturday Telegraph

“It is all a bit silly, really, but handled with an affable, zonked-out yet penetrating prose, is as much fun to read as anything you will come across this summer”

Nicholas Lezard, London Evening Standard

“Full of superb dialogue and lovely descriptive passages'”

John Dugdale, Sunday Times

“By far [Pynchon's] most accessible novel since The Crying of Lot 49, and at least as funny as his zany behemoth Against the Day...this is a loveable, kooky version of noir detective fiction, but with the shadows of genuine darkness at its edges...Inherent Vice is Pynchon on an idiosyncratic frolic, and what a joy it is. He is the only truly Dickensian talent of our time”

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

“True believers will be relieved to note, however, that despite its concessions to readability and fun, Inherent Vice has all the trademark Pynchon silliness...beneath all this mayhem and fun, however, Inherent Vice is a serious, even brooding, book”

Aravind Adiga, The Times

“a bright, breezy, funny page-turner...Best of all, however, is the way Pynchon maps the psycho-geography and shifting socio-political sands of America at the time”

Alan Chadwick, Metro

“Inherent Vice has more heart than any other Pynchon ... an anatomy or perhaps an astrology of hipness ... sun-kissed, psychedelic and sexually-enhanced, Pynchon has re-embodied, re-grooved the soul of the Sixties”

Andy Martin, ndependent

“You don't have to have been there; if you're willing, he'll take you there”

Michael Carlson, Spectator

“Pynchon's pastiche is pitch-perfect, and extremely funny... the novel works superbly as a thriller. But we also get a brilliantly lurid snapshot of a world starting to unravel”

Henry Power, Literary Review

“The [novel's] sentences have their stately beauty, and Pynchon is poignantly good on the heartsick detective... There are tremendously pacy comic set pieces... and a nostalgic delight in 1960s types”

David Flusfeder, New Statesman

“Like all Pynchon's novels, short or long, it is an almost hermetically sealed world, which you can navigate best by surrendering to authorial sensibilities....Inherent Vice is Pynchon looking back at an era, caught up in its own stoned entropy, and looking back on himself...You don't have to have been there; if you're willing, he'll take you there”

Michael Carlson, The Spectator

“With his most accessible book to date - half Chinatown, half Fear and loathing, all searing jeremiad about the modern American Soil - he may have come up with something even th e British literati can read”

Thomas Leveritt, Independent on Sunday

“[An] absorbing and frequently funny crime novel...unmistakably Pynchon; as funny, angry and wistful as ever”


“Handled with an affable, zonked-out yet penetrating prose, [this] is as much fun as anything you will come across this summer”

Nicholas Lezard, The Scotsman

“The experience of reading the novel is probably as close to getting stoned as reading a novel can be. It brings on fits of the giggles and paranoia jags...It doesn't, however, make you fall asleep...characteristically hilarious and thought-provoking”

Thomas Jones, London Review of Books

“Tremendously enjoyable”

Matt Thorne, Catholic Herald

“Thomas Pynchon...blended Chandler-esque noir with pastoral comedy”

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

“The pioneering work in a genre you'd have to call psychedelic Noir ...Who writes sentences as beautiful as Pynchon?”

Sam Leith, Daily Mail


Seven Magazine, Sunday Telegraph

“Serves up the author's trademark blend of pop culture, conspiracy theories and quirky characters”

Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times, Fiction Books of the Year

“His most relaxed and enjoyable work since Gravity's Rainbow”

Morgan Kelly, Irish Times, Books of the Year

“Presiding genius of American weird fiction”

The Telegraph, Review Magazine

“Pynchon's unique blend of wackiness and wistfulness permeates every page. He uses words as carefully as Nabokov. Inherent Vice works brilliantly as both a neon-lit neo-noir and as a psychedelic lament to the Sixties”

Sunday Telegraph

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