Pynchon falls to Earth here. At no point does this novel engage in the normal pynchonian analepsis, wherein character 1 flashbacks about character 2, and at some indeterminate point, the narration had switched completely over to character 2, forgetting character 1, but then character 2 suddenly has an analepsis about character 3, switching to that person’s perspective, and so on. This, rather, is straightforward, a post-hippy private investigator tracking down something or other. I think it’s a standard Chinatown
-style Los Angeles land development plot. But that’s all secondary to the doping and hard fucking.
Anyway, something about maritime insurance, the rise of Lemuria, COINTELPRO, and neo-Nazis working for local law enforcement off the books.
Nice little aside about a Warsaw Pact Marxist describing Las Vegas: “sits out here in the middle of the desert, produces no tangible goods, money flows in, money flows out, nothing is produced. This place should not, according to theory, even exist, let alone prosper as it does. I feel my whole life has been based on illusory premises. I have lost reality. Can you tell me, please, where is reality?” (232). On the other hand, president Nixon is presented as lead speaker at the “Fascism for Freedom” rally (308), so, yeah, no hard to locate which way the irony swings here.
Recommended for those well versed in hippie metaphysics, readers having those rectal throbs, and countersubversive hobbyists.