I confess to being more than a picky reader, which prevents me from being all that well-read. I pick up a book in the store and randomly flip to a page in the book. If I don’t like the way the words sound, I don’t buy the book because I know I can’t read it. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I’ll never get Hemingway and his boorish eight-word sentences. It’s like getting smacked in the face with beef.
But then there are authors. Amazing poets that really send me away from myself and into their worlds. Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Inherent Vice, appears to be one such work of fiction. At the risk of getting sued by Penguin Press, let me give you but one sample of the delicious words that keep me turning the pages of this book:
Club Asiatique was in San Pedro, opposite Terminal Island, with a filtered view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge. At night it seemed covered, in a way protected, by something deeper than shadow – a visual expression of the convergence, fron all around the Pacific Rim, of numberless needs to do business unobserved.
Glassware behind the bar, which might in some other type of saloon have been found too dazzling, here achieved the smudged cool glow of images on cheap black-and-white TV sets. Waitresses in black silk cheongsams printed with red tropical blossoms glided around on high heels, bearing tall narrow drinks decorated with real orchids and mango slices and straws of vivid aqua plastic molded to look like bamboo. Customers at tables leaned toward each other and then away, in slow rhythms, like plants underwater. House regulars drank shots of hot sake chased with iced champagne. The air was dense with smoke from opium pipes and cannabis bongs, as well as clove cigarettes, Malaysian cheroots, and correctional-system Kools, little glowing foci of awareness pulsing brighter and dimmer everywhere in the dusk. Downstairs, for those nostalgic for Macao and the joys of Felicidad Street, an exclusive fantan game went on day and night, as well as mah-jongg and dollar-a-stone Go in various alcoves behind the beaded curtains.
Doesn’t tell you much about the story, in fact, it doesn’t tell you shit. It’s just the words – the images. The way they fit together in two paragraphs and tell the whole story of a place in California. I guess I know who I’ll be looking up after I’m done with this book. Thank you, Rolling Stone!