Late 1960s Los Angeles provides an atmospheric setting for the investigations of pot-smoking private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello. Kidnapping, murder, organized crime, a host of unsavory characters, a lot of sex and drugs, and a wise-ass protaganist (think the “The Dude” crossed with Sam Spade), are all part of a convoluted plot that might have been written by Dashiell Hammett if he hadn’t died right as the 60s were spooling up. Pynchon’s writing style is witty and dense, at times requiring (and rewarding) a pause and a bit of deciphering on the part of the reader. I enjoyed his portrayals of speech patterns and slang through creative spelling and sentence structure. Unsurprisingly, there was a heck of a lot more vice in this book than I am comfortable with, but I hope I can recognize good writing even if the content makes me uncomfortable.
[Why I read it: I saw the movie trailer and though it looked interesting, but my friend AJ recommended I read the book before watching the film.]