My review of the novel:
I really cannot do justice to this book with a short review. The work can be read as a relatively mainstream detective story set in the drug-culture of southern California in 1970. Pynchon has clearly read Raymond Chandler as the plot includes many references to Philip Marlowe and his most famous cases. If you are looking for a postmodern Chandler, then you might enjoy this book. However, many parts of it may seem really strange. Indeed, this book's main character encounters situations and people that are more overtly comical (if not ridiculous) than any situations and people Marlowe ever encountered. The book packs in so many odd characters, coincidental meetings, and contrived circumstances, in fact, that it can also be read as satire -- and Chandler and Marlowe could be viewed as targets. Many of Marlowe's encounters could be viewed as far-fetched and ridiculous if not portrayed in the way they were written by Chandler. PI Larry "Doc" Sportello's drug of choice is pot rather than alcohol, but he is a viable stand-in for Marlowe. Doc's adventures parallel Marlowe's and led me to think about how Marlowe would survive in Doc's world and vice-versa. The book seems to lament the end of the counterculture 1960s (Doc's world), though the "gumsandal" PI obviously has significant ties to the "straight" world. His girlfriend works in the prosecutor's office, he trades information with a prominent cop, and he earns a living working as a "hopeless stooge of the creditor class" (which he realizes in an epiphany near the book's end). Other targets of Pynchon's satire are more overtly identified: heavy-handed police officers and other elements of law enforcement, heroin, and the background political figures, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.Here's an interesting video promoting the novel, apparently narrated by Thomas Pynchon in the voice of PI Doc:
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