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Vineland [Paperback]

Thomas Pynchon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 1992

Vineland, a zone of blessed anarchy in northern California, is the last refuge of hippiedom, a culture devastated by the sobriety epidemic, Reaganomics, and the Tube. Here, in an Orwellian 1984, Zoyd Wheeler and his daughter Prairie search for Prairie's long-lost mother, a Sixties radical who ran off with a narc.

Vineland is vintage Pynchon, full of quasi-allegorical characters, elaborate unresolved subplots, corny songs ("Floozy with an Uzi"), movie spoofs (Pee-wee Herman in The Robert Musil Story), and illicit sex (including a macho variation on the infamous sportscar scene in V.).

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (7 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749391413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749391416
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Pynchon is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, a collection of short stories, Vineland, Mason and Dixon and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

Product Description


"A major political novel about what America has been doing to itself, to its children, all these many years...One of America's great writers has, after long wanderings down his uncharted roads, come triumphantly home" (Salman Rushdie New York Times Book Review)

"Vintage stuff - funny, fantastically inventive, packed with improbable erudition" (Times Literary Supplement)

"A essential novel of our fin de siecle, a finger pointing the way out of the 1980s" (USA Today)

"His descriptive powers are breathtaking...Pynchon proves once again to be the master of what might be called the highbrow conspiracy thriller" (Wall Street Journal)

"One of the funniest, most cleverly written, superbly characterised and beautifully structured books that I have read by a living author" (Time Out)

Book Description

'Exhilarating and wretchedly funny. The most important and mysterious writer of his generation' - Time

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sub-Par Pynchon 3 April 2013
By Runmentionable TOP 1000 REVIEWER
By the standards of most authors Vineland would be a laudable achievement, but by Pynchon's standards it's a middling work whose potential is betrayed by his variable use of his own stylistic trademarks. It's half the length of Gravity's Rainbow but far more of a slog to read, and more than twice the length of The Crying of Lot 49, but with no more impact.

As is often the case, it's kinduva hifalutin' conspiracy thriller, this time taking in the clash between the late '60s counterculture and the Nixon government, and the aftershock for both sides through to the end of the first Reagan administration. Pynchon returned to this theme even more explicitly in his most recent novel, Inherent Vice, and in both of them his rage at the triumph of the reactionaries (and his sorrow at the failings of the counterculture, about which he is clear-headed) is palpable.

And therein lies the problem. Deep within Vineland, there's an angry and very moving naturalistic novel trying to get out, a naturalistic novel about the cost to human lives when a brutal ruling class pursues its own agenda under the guise of "national interest". This comes closest to the surface in the last quarter of Vineland, which may the most emotionally direct and affecting writing Pynchon has ever produced.

Unfortunately, Pynchon, as a fabulist (let's not insult him by calling him a post-modernist), doesn't do naturalistic novels. Which is not a problem when he's on form, but much of Vineland reads like someone imitating Pynchon and making a mess of it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Pynchon? 12 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Vineland was my introduction to Pynchon ten years ago, and I think it's aged very well. On its own, it's a brilliant book, a dissection of America's rebellion years of the Sixties and the clampdown decade of the Eighties. Packed full of amazing language, rock n roll, conspiracies, riots, lunatics, ghosts, ninjas, TV, video, drugs, pizza, chainsaws, cops...Vineland is pure Pynchon. It's always played down because of its comparison to Gravity's Rainbow, but this is the more human, funny and accessible book, and a lot more tightly controlled. Read it for yourself.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Introduction to a Unique Author 29 Oct 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't remember how I came across Vineland originally. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting. I was vaguely aware of Thomas Pynchon's reputation as a recluse, and I suppose I just thought it was about time I discovered what all the fuss what about, expecting an anti-climactic disappointment.
But what an amazing discovery, which since that date has been my favourite book and undoubtedly the one I would select if one day banished to some remote place with a single volume limit.
Not only did this book make me laugh in a way I never have before or since, behind the bizarre descriptions of life past and present in the United States lies a serious message. I am not sure it is possible to fully understand Americans without reading this book.
I could not more strongly recommend it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It's very difficult to write a review about such a multi-faceted book. Some talk of it being a sort of conspiracy-based story, but that's not even part of it. Set against a post-summer-of-love Reagan-era backdrop, the conspiracy part is the evil FBI agent chasing former political activist. However, rolled into that is eastern mysticism and spiritual martial art at one end, the subtle menace of alien invasion at the other and lots of other exciting stuff inbetween. To provide the pathos is a convoulted menage-a-I-forget-how-many, further confounded by elements of pure sadistic lust.

It's difficult to say who the main character is, as Pynchon somehow engages a Tarantino-esque effect of multiple converging storylines, married with beat writing reminiscent of Tom Wolfe's Electric Koolade Acid Test. In fact speaking of Tarantino, I watched the Kill Bill films soon after I read this book, and it's striking how similar to Vineland the atmosphere and themes seemed.

That's as close to a description of the story as I'll go, for fear of spoiling it. Stylistically Pynchon is awesome, giving depth and historical context to his characters and yet being almost stream-of-consciousness in his writing. But it all hangs together, even through the 1/2 page-long sentences.

This was a fantastic read that I was truly disappointed to end, and is one of the few books that I will read again. Although I do appreciate that some readers might find his slightly schizophrenic style hard to tolerate, I would certainly recommend this to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intricate, enthraling, confusing. 4 Dec 2009
By Book Critic VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For ages I hadn't a clue what was going on, so confusing, but in such an entertaining, beguiling way that I ploughed on, regardless. Then, it was as if someone threw a switch in my brain and All Became Clear and then I started to love it. I probably need to read it again now - at least once.

Vineland reads like Jack Kerouac trying to write a `real' novel - and there's nothing wrong with that.
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