Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reading "VIneland" by Thomas Pynchon

Man, what a difference from "Inherent Vice". I'm not talking about a difference in complexity or what have you, since I knew going into Inherent Vice that it was much more lightweight than most of Pynchon's books, but about a difference in tone. While Inherent Vice is a sort of lighthearted exploration of '60s counter culture in southern California, Vineland is a comparable nightmare, being a fractured look at the history of several '60s figures who have descended into, it's fair to say, very bad times. I'm a little over half way through it at the moment but am thankful that the psychological hell trip has eased up in the last couple of chapters. The situation is one where it hurts more because it's rendered realistically, painfully realistically, as opposed to being picturesque and over the top.

*on edit: hmm, thinking of it, the last sentence here is unsatisfactory. That should be grotesque rather than picturesque because picturesque is too ambiguous while grotesque captures more of the flavor of horrific or nightmarish fiction that gets that way through using monsters and other supernatural effects, plus literal blood and psychopaths. Vineland is raw, waking up in the morning after a party, realizing that you're a mess and that your life still sucks and that there's nothing you can do about it, nightmare effects.

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