This is the second time I have read this novel. With Pynchon rereading is kind of mandatory, and what better time to do so now that Inherent Vice the movie is in the theaters. The first time a Pynchon novel has been adapted to film. Personally I usually don’t like when books are adapted to film, they are two very different mediums of art and entertainment, and they are not supposed to work hand in hand. Loose interpretations or films inspired by certain books are fine (viz “Apocalypse Now”), I have no problem with that, and there have even been a number of successful direct adaptations. The problem is there are too many producers and directors out there that think any book can and should be adapted into a movie and that anyone can do it, the result of which is a large number of poorly adapted books into films. The best example of this is the 2006 Stephan Fangmeier abysmal train wreck “Eragon.”
Of course we always have high hopes when a book we like gets made into a movie. When it comes to a Pynchon novel, the notoriously hard to follow narrative would be nice to see played out on the big screen, it may help us understand the book better.
Since this is the second time around with this novel, I better understood what was going on, and retained more of the story then I had before. The problem with understanding the novel is that changes between character and place happen without any notice, combined with the multiple storylines running through at the same time and very unusual names. It’s easy to see why the big screen might be very beneficial in understanding the story. Paul Thomas Andersen (who also directed “Magnolia”) I would think is more than capable of pulling off a movie like this, though not to many other directors could.
In my opinion “Inherent Vice” is Pynchon’s easiest to read, easiest to understand, and funniest. Now that there is a movie out based on it, I would recommend this as a starting point for anyone who wants to get into Pynchon. Get the audiobook, listen to it, watch the movie, listen to the audio book again, and you should be okay. Of course I should see the movie first before I make any sort of final judgment. Hopefully that will happen at some point soon, and I can write a post about it.