ISBN: 0141180633
ISBN 13: 9780141180632
By: Thomas Pynchon

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About this book

A group of Americans in Northern California in 1984 are struggling with the consequences of their lives in the sixties, still run by the passions of those times -- sexual and political -- which have refused to die. Among them is Zoyd Wheeler who is preparing for his annual act of televised insanity (for which he receives a government stipend) when an unwelcome face appears from out of his past.An old nemesis, federal prosecutor Brock Vond, storms into Vineland at the head of a heavily armed strike force. Soon Zoyd and his daughter, Prairie, go into hiding while Vond begins a relationship with Zoyd's ex-wife and uses Prairie as a pawn against the mother she never knew she had.Part daytime drama, part political thriller, Vineland is a strange evocation of a twentieth-century America headed for a less than harmonic future.

Reader's Thoughts


As dense and meaty as Pynchon ever was. The odd references are easier to pick up, now that they refer to Godzilla and grunge punk instead of doo-wop or Baron von Ribbentrop. I'll never argue with the addition of ninjas to a work of high literature, and though the action does come packed- motorcycle rescues from campus riots, late-night blackout drug runs- the images are often watered down with that heavy, heavy prose. An example: "As time went by, that is, he did begin to wonder. But could not ask-- she would only evade, turn her head away and smile, not in any sinister way but with a child's secretive semipro glaze, longing-- though she only told him years later how she used it to get her through-- for the Retreat, the cloudy ridge, the high dark walls, where she could nest for a while with the others-- not crippled sparrows but birds of prey, ragged from the storm, tired from the hunt, in for a little R and R-- longing for the mountains, much as she'd once romantically imagined about her old teacher Inoshiro Sensei." So Pynchon's prose has always been soft down and switchback curves. What can be said except, if you loved him before, you'll love him now. You have to wonder just how much research he did on 80's drug culture for this book. The structure of his images (see above) gets often close to, and sometimes way beyond, schizophrenic in their complexity. Characters become birds, clowns, soldiers, plants, and mobsters all in the space of a few pages. Motivations are so meticulously explained that you feel, from time to time, that there is nothing left to reveal to yourself. Pynchon has seen it all, and written it. So sometimes the book looks more like a poetic dictionary of the human experience than an energeic novel. If anyone but Pynchon had their hands on those strings, the plot would fall apart. The book would be worthless. But since it is Pynchon, and he knows where his characters go no matter where they wander off to, and he knows how to call them back home, it works. This is a lovely book. And if you have the patience to sit and read it, please, by all means.


"War in Vietnam, murder as an instrument of American politics, black neighborhoods torched to ashes and death, all must have been off on some other planet."wizened ole sage dropping zen koans or a novelist with quirky sensibilities? my lonely opinion is tending towards the second so far, though i enjoy his political outlook. all seems like a drunken bar crawl where you occasionally run into a few witty people worth talking to, though the ninjas are a nice touch. emotional resonance is hidden like an easter egg in the last third,...sort of.just skirting the perimeter here on Ruggle's work til I dive headfirst into the mighty GR. "[Brock] was a devotee of the thinking of pioneer criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909), who'd believed that the brains of criminals were short on lobes that controlled civilized values like morality and respect for the law, tending indeed to resemble animal more than human brains, and thus caused the crania that housed them to develop differently, which included the way their faces would turn out looking. Abnormally large eye sockets, prognathism, frontal submicrocephaly, Darwinian Tipped Ear, you name it, Lombroso had a list that went on, and skull data to back him up. By Brock's time the theory had lapsed into a quaint, undeniably racist spin off from 19th century for phrenology, crude in method and long superseded, although it seemed reasonable to Brock. What really got his attention was the Lombrosian concept of "misoneism". Radicals, militants, revolutionaries, however they styled themselves, all sinned against this deep organic human principle, which Lombroso had named after the Greek for "hatred of anything new". It operated as a feedback device to keep societies coming along safely, coherently. Any sudden attempt to change things would be answered by an immediate misoneistic backlash, not only from the State but from the people themselves - Nixon's election '68 seeming to Brock a perfect example of this."


Classic Pynchon: complexly convoluted, erratically jumping around different characters and time periods; narratives within narratives within narratives, often so labyrinthine that when he returns to the actual narrative you’ve forgotten what is actually going on. As far as I can tell, the book is an interesting study in innocent, anarchic, childish naivete—guised in the hippy drug-euphoria of the sixties-early seventies and personified in musician-turned-ersatz-mentally-disabled-pothead Zoyd Wheeler—and brutal, fascistic, “adult” realism—guised in the increasingly violent and sadistic anti-drug activities of various governmental agencies and personified in the fittingly Aryan neo-Fascist Brock Vond. What are the implications of power and statehood? What is the nature of submission? What is revolutionary and what is conservative?All of this comes with a rather unflattering portrayal of the American law enforcement apparatus, which, scarily enough, has in the present era metastasized into an even greater bloated, quasi-military behemoth bent on eradicating ineradicable substances than in Pynchon’s [probably] hyperbolic representation. War on Drugs, indeed.On an unrelated note, I sensed eerie echoes of Infinite Jest—or rather, echoes of Vineland within Infinite Jest—with the characters’ preoccupation with, possibly even addiction to, television as not only entertainment, but an expression of humanity and, in the case of Hector, perhaps even an actual extension of human or at least semi-human life; not to mention the potential for total control over people through entertainment.A thought-provoking, challenging read, but worth the trouble.

Frank Roberts

Can't remember the name of the guy who suggested I read this stack of won tons. He was a waiter I worked with in the North End, had cystic fibrosis and, halfway through Vineland, I recall thinking he was among the dopiest dingbats alive. But I felt bad about that, with the image of him coughing out a heartfelt recommendation for the newest novel from the great Thomas Pynchon. CF cases don't live too long so I finished the fucker.It's a tragic tale, since Pynchon tells you how it ends in the beginning. Thinking there may be some literary foot sling to flip you over at the end you comb the litter of the chapters for the clues. But there aren't any hidden hints and you get to read nearly 400 pages to get to what he already said was coming. My recommendation? Read Vineland backwards, or not at all, and you'll arrive at the same net result. No interest in reading Gravity's Rainbow after this noodle swamp.Another turning point with this book - I stopped taking most friend's suggestions for reading material. Didn't cut the amount of garbage I read because I'd still buy anything cooed from the mouths of cute girls if I thought it'd get me laid....Matter of fact, JACKASS ON A CAMEL, Ch. 2 spells out the literary stunts I'd pull for love...

Franco Vite

Il più accessibile, tra i romanzi di Pynchon.Geniale metafora della generazione americana dei '60.Bellissimo.


Me rindo. Cuando te da tanta pereza coger un libro que parece que lo estás leyendo obligado es mejor decir basta. Y eso que al principio me enganchó; tengo debilidad por el humor absurdo y los personajes estrambóticos de los que está bien servida Vineland. Pero conforme avanzaba la lectura tenía cada vez la sensación de no estar yendo a ningún sitio. Pynchon se mueve aquí en espirales que van abarcando cada vez más personajes a los que dedica unas páginas antes de pasar al siguiente, como un espectáculo de circo. Pero en el circo todo funciona mientras el espectador esté pendiente de un "más difícil todavía". Si juegas con la sorpresa no puedes permitirte repetirte.Y justo esa ha sido la sensación que me ha llevado a abandonar. Los nuevos personajes no me aportaban nada nuevo, y ya no encontraba interés en intentar averiguar por dónde iba a continuar la trama. La espiral se había convertido en un círculo del que no encontraba salida. Salvo, literalmente, abandonándolo.


Eigentlich ein 5-Sterne-Roman, dem ich aber ›nur‹ vier Sterne gebe, weil ich dummer Mensch den Roman hauptsächlich unterwegs auf dem Weg zur & von der Arbeit gelesen habe, wofür er sich eben nicht unbedingt eigent. Die vielen Rückblenden — teils sogar mehrere ineinander verschachtelte — machten es mir nicht leicht, flüssig und verwirrungsfrei dem ganzen munteren Abgesang-Panorama auf die Alternativ- & Protestkultur der 60er/70er-Jahre zu folgen.Dennoch eine dolle Reise und wie alle Pynchons, die ich bisher durch hab, die stellenweisen Mühen locker wert.


I thought it was time to read some Pynchon as he seems to be a modern American icon. I can see the positives. The man can definitely write. He is clearly very bright and excessively erudite. I must say that was where it ended for me. The plot is ridiculous and rather difficult to follow. There are too many characters and these characters did not engage me at all. I found Pynchon's zaniness very annoying, pointless and at times infantile.If you cut through the garbage overall I thought the novel depicted a certain time and place in America rather well.Will I be moving onto Gravity's Rainbow? Life's too short.

Sasha Zbarskaya

Писать рецензии на не понравившиеся книги мне легко и (не)приятно, на умеренно понравившиеся - труднее, а на очень понравившиеся - почти невозможно, поскольку очень похоже на вивисекцию чего-то, что дорого живым и чирикающим. "Вайнленд" - это каминг-хоум, это Додж и Толкин одновременно, это "Властелин колец", в котором назгулы - госмрази, хиппари и их дети - хоббиты, а сама Винляндия - Шир, что размещается на территории былой славы Арнора/рок-н-ролльщиков. Саурон, тем не менее, непобедим, а лишь на время шуганут - да и то не отовсюду, и Средиземью еще предстоит с ним иметься, ибо палантиры теперь - в каждом доме, а последний корабль из Серой Гавани отплыл лет за 15 до начала действия романа. Авалон мы себе, похоже, и вовсе придумали (хотя остаются шансы, что он, не существуя в пространстве, все же есть во времени) - что никак не мешает нам бывать там, когда заблагорассудится, поскольку есть, как я слышу от Пинчона, свободы, которые не отнимут, пока сам не отдашь.


So when you think of Pynchon you think of serious work, right? And trudgery and difficulty and obfuscation and pedanticism, and like this dizzying thing that just makes you feel unintellectual and slow for never being able to catch up, right? Well if that is the case, you have never read Vineland . Because oh. my. god. This book is so fucking good.I'm not going to try to summarize or anything, because this book is too sprawling and reeling, and anyway that would be an afront to its amazingness. But look, it's got all the same basic building blocks as any Pynchon book—a million characters exhaustively historied, unfollowable plot twists, crazy ranting paranoia, incredibly phraseology, bizarre songs, sixties culture, sex and violence (in fact, large swaths are oddly comparable to Kill Bill, if you ask me)—but it's done at a much...easier level somehow. It's much more accessible, it's hilarious and warm, and you don't feel like you're in quicksand the whole time, just desperately trying to understand and keep breathing. See, people never talk about the really unimaginable joy that soars through Pynchon's work. And beauty! I mean look, this book is tough, for sure, and I won't try to claim that I understood everything, but honestly it just doesn't matter. It's just so much fun to read. It's not work at all. And the ending! Once I had like thirty pages left I started getting that dark foreboding feeling, you know, like there's no way he can end this satisfactorily, there just isn't enough space. I was so sure he was going to do something horrible, leaving everything messy and unfulfilling, end things like right in the middle of a sentence or something, but no! The ending was beautiful, just like the rest of the book, totally satisfying and wonderful. Jeez I loved this book. Wow.


Like the blind men and the elephant, reading this book has left me wanting for the rest of the truth in the story (if there is one or many, i don't care). Pynchon's master structure of this novel is both captivating and ironic at same time. It is captivating because like the major characters in the novel (Zoyd, Prairie, Frenesi , Vond etc) , the structures follows a free wheeling, on-the-road style coming and going, shifting and adjusting of times/places and narrative voices (which gives it the edge of the seat, turning of the page thrill for me) but it is also ironic that they are in motion only to stop/resolve whatever that are driving them at dawn (yes actions are mostly at dawn but there is also this almost Mission impossible style diving-down-from-the-top-in-a-rope scene in this book). Zoyd, with his almost sober like behavior towards Prairie, all sucking up and hey I am sorry lets forgot the whole 70's mistakes of the "flower people" and Prairie going "I want to see her" implied in her frenetic chase to see (Frenesi) and also this Vond, not contended by being mad enough, by trying to resolve the unresolvable - the Past. For me the book is a fantastic (sorry for that boring adjective, i can't think of anything else right now) tribute to the concept of time and memory and how we try to reconcile our past with the present via memories and consciousness boosted action. It could be that Vineland is about that "a major political novel about what America has been doing to itself, to its children, all these many years." like Salman Rushdie says in his review of the book or it could be a plain old coming of age novel of all it's characters (including adults becoming more adults) but for me the relishing here and there ( on EVERY page) of these little nuggets of alliterations, word puns, invented words - Thanatoid - that will sound more cool spoken to your spouse/{Girl/Boy} Friend than alone, historic references/revelations, allusion to arcane books on criminology, literary nods to PKD-Ubik/Wizard of Oz etc, spiritual hat tip to Tibetian Book of the Dead, a junkie/musician-turned-father-who-loves-his-daughter sentimentalism, vintage cameras, Nuns cottage as a front for suggestive "for pleasure" Service, strong/funny/Ninja practicing women, "Musicians are always good" (source: Vineland wiki), finally Dog Desmond and of course as SR says a cheesy political slap on the cheek about Nixon/Reagon era politics etc is what made me lift the book from the corner of dusty "I am too afraid to read Pynchon" to "I read Pynchon in a week (Yes)". Vineland is by far the second most accessible book by Pynchon, the first being his shorter novelette'esque "Crying of Lot 49" - of course I have read only two :P (poor me!). This book has left me wanting for more Pynchon and I can surely see why. As long as you keep the Pynchon wiki by your side for reference whenever you feel lost in the wind, you should be good.A fine read and 5 stars rating.

j. ergo

likely no review to come here as reading seems to've taken a surmounting lead, prioritistically speaking, over trying to put into words feelings about something made out of words already, & words that make my words feel like grunts. i will say this. i started vineland a few times--as pretty much most pynchon--w/o success, & over the yrs my assumptions about the follow-up, w/ 17 yrs b/w, of what i consider to be the greatest novel of the 20th century, skewed toward the heavy majority--that vineland was first considered the end of pynchon (something like scorsese's new york, new york), & then, after the appearance of mason & dixon & against the day, simply a low anomaly in his freshly invigorated pantheon. mason & dixon & against the day are now the last two remaining pynchon's for me to read, so i feel just slightly qualified to offer this opinion on vineland: it is a completely fucking extraordinary book, containing a heretofore previously & occasionally attempted, but unperfected, love for the characters that i don't even know if pynchon intended to be there. sure, there is a pervasive gloom of paranoia holding the book together like woodglue, but the characters, heroes, foils & villains alike, are the most sympathetic gathering of folks in anything i've ever read by him, except for maybe the short story the secret integration, which is about kids & was written when he was in his early 20's. also: reading bleeding edge just previously to vineland, i could not help but notice two very specific things & many, many stylistic echoes that make the two seem to be sister books. the first specific thing, which i believe is a device he uses in other books as well, but never so prevalent as in these two, are the constant, & hilarious, mention of biopics, w/ an actor & a subject selected, seemingly for their incongruities. they are short, some might say easy jokes, particularly for a writer like pynchon, but where & the way he interjects them always add context to the writing before & after it. my two favorite in vineland are john ritter in the bryant gumbel story & pee-wee herman in the robert musil story. the other obvious, though not as simply pointed out, similarity in the two books is pynchon's treatment of women. it is not a departure on the whole, as one of the things i've always admired about pynchon is his ability to mine the ever-so-fertile differences b/w women & men, but never treating them both as more-or-less human, i.e. the women are as evil or, though rarely, as good as any of the men, a complex & ambiguous equality that i don't hear mentioned enough. the women in all his books are their own guardians of their sexual freedom & w/o judgement, from the writer at least. sometimes what emerges is as dark as it gets, but never not counterbalanced--or counterobliterated--by the men. what is different in bleeding edge & vineland is that, maybe not completely, but way more than is usual in his other books, they outnumber the men in importance, depth (not the writing, but the choices he makes in focusing on), &, well, sheer numbers. vineland, more than bleeding edge, at times even comes across to me it not one all by itself, at least thomas pychon's closest approximation of a feminist novel (if a feminist novel can be written by a man). i began to get the same feeling when i was reading 2666, that the massive sprawling plot(s) & long introspective stories were exquisite window dressing for what essentially was a novel (or 5) about the indignities man has for yrs subjected women to. vineland is less that, but more focused on the individual complexities of the women throughout the book. that said, i'm a dood, so maybe that's why it seems to stand out so much to me.guess this sorta turned into a review after all, kinda, so i guess i feel the need to conclude it in some way. two of, at the most, my five favorite writers are thomas pynchon & donald barthelme. in the last six months i've read books by the two of them that are considered to be of lesser quality than the rest of their oeuvre. w/ don b., it was his final book, the slim novel the king. in both cases i was ever so pleasantly surprised that i was surprised in the first place that both books are works of genius, detours, if only slightly, from each writer's normal tread. in the case of vineland, it has both deepened suspicions i held for pynchon's writing for awhile, while also causing me to recalibrate completely the lens i view his work other words, pynchon sorta resembles what the late, great dj john peel said about my favorite band the fall: "always different, always the same."

Kristen Shaw

Gravity's Rainbow is the flashy intellectual you date for a few months before discovering his/her pretensions to be vaguely problematic long-term; Vineland (like Zoyd) is the partner you keep around for while, who cuddles you at night and makes fancy herbal tea. I'll stay friends with Gravity's Rainbow always, but Vineland hit me really hard and my allegiance is to the latter - as a more accessible, beautifully-written but nonetheless still-Deleuzian brain fuck of healthy proportions.


Has anyone else ever employed such loopy, labyrinthine, lovely language to tell such weird and wackily written tales? I think not.


A dystopian presentation, but with zombies and ninja magic, of Reagan's United States.Follows a group of '60s new leftists and their antagonists, through use of translucent digressions, elliptical flashbacks, and abrupt changes of perspective, back and forth through several decades.It might read as a mess at first, and therefore likely requires labor-intensive rereadings. That said, there're plenty of brilliant turns of phrase, descriptions, and scenes. Much comedy, satire, parody. Likely in the same genre as Mieville's Iron Council, even though it's not obvious if there's any direct influence.The novel opens with a plot-related distinction between defenestration and transfenestration (15). For my second reading, I will assume that this is the basic structure of the presentation and be on the lookout accordingly.Some interesting incidentals, illustrative rather than exhaustive, as it is pregnant writing:We are told that a mobster's library included a copy of Delueze & Guatarri's Italian Wedding Cake Book (97), which is a slick little joke.Ninja magic, should sound familiar: "She learned how to give people heart attacks without even touching them, how to get them to fall from high places, how through the Clouds of Guilt technique to make them commit seppuku and think it was their idea - plus a grab bag of strategies excluded from the Kumi-Uchi, or official ninja combat system, such as the Enraged Sparrow, the Hidden Foot, the Nosepicking of Death, and the truly unspeakable Gojira no Chimpira" (127). In learning a "system of heresies about the human body" (128), our communist ninja also learns "the Vibrating Palm or Ninja Death Touch" (131). So, yeah, it's kickass. (There's also a way to undo the vibrating palm, as it happens.)Engaged gender politics, such as the presentation of Sedgewick's homosociality thesis, as when the novel's obscure object of desire is told by her fascist lover that she is "the medium [leftist lover] and [fascist lover] use to communicate, that's all, this set of holes, pleasantly framed, this little femme scampering back and forth with scented messages tucked in her little secret places" (214). There's quite a bit of feminist erudition on display in this one.We are reminded on numerous occasions, implicitly, of the "metaphor of movie camera as weapon" (197).Nifty correspondence of cause with Zizek's Sublime Object of Ideology, wherein stalinism requires that "the Communists are 'men of iron will,' somehow excluded from the everyday cycle of ordinary human passions and weakness. It is as if they are 'the living dead', still alive but already excluded from the ordinary cycle of natural forces - as if, that is, they possess another body, the sublime body beyond the ordinary physical body" (Zizek 162-63). Similarly, Pynchon presents a leftist involved with "progressive abstinence, in which you began by giving up acid and pot, then tobacco, alcohol, sweets - you kept cutting down on sleep, doing with less, you broke up with lovers, avoided sex, after a while even gave up masturbating - as the enemy's attention grew more concetrated, you gave up your privacy, freedom of movement, access to money, with the looming promise always of jail and the final forms of abstinence from any life at all free of pain" (230). Add in the zombies, which are weird, possibly superfluous, and genuinely very polite, and it all comes together (or maybe not quite together, but rather not completely disentangled) as a riff on Slovene marxism.Recommended for those who wish to at least appear more clitorally ladylike, male motorcyclists who for tax purposes reconstitute themselves as a group of nuns, and nomads in the sky's desert.

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