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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in Northern California in 1984 and peopled with quirky characters, Pynchon's latest is a series of brilliant set pieces eventually overwhelmed by its own frenzied exuberance. 200,000 first printing. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Pynchon's first novel since the formidable Gravity's Rainbow (1973) more closely resembles his earlier work, especially The Crying of Lot 49 (1966). (In fact Mucho Maas, the ex-husband of Lot 49 's heroine, reappears in the new book.) 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. ). Pynchon fans have waited 17 years for this novel, and they won't be disappointed. An essential purchase.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch . Lib., Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141180632
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 215,647
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Pynchon

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.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 8, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Glen Cove, Long Island, New York
    1. Education:
      B. A., Cornell University, 1958

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    Fun Read

    This is a fun book to read if you just relax and have fun with the crazy story lines and whimsical language. Pynchon tends to switch back and forth between the present day and flashbacks frequently and seemingly without notice. But if you go with the flow and don't obsess too much about whether you are following each and every twist exactly, I think you will find this an enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2003

    Feeling Confusion in a World of Illusion

    In this gorgeous, modernist novel, Thomas Pynchon presents a portait of what is ruinous in America. Things are coming apart and Vineland is a chaotic land. When I started reading Martha Stout's 'The Myth of Sanity,' a book about trauma in another key, I said to myself, 'Here is a psychologist who is fascinated by the way her traumatized clients keep on living even after such trying experiences. Why don't people just give up?' 'Vineland' has a similar message: death and destruction have found their way into the texture of American life, but we must choose to continue with our lives. Zoyd Wheeler, a musician and construction worker, is the hero of the novel. The setting is the 1980's in California, though the time frame shifts. Life for Zoyd is a 'life sentence.' Zoyd is a down-and-out musician who performs media stunts in order to keep his disability checks. He lives in Vineland. He is mysteriously pursued by a DEA agent, Hector Zuniga. Among other things, Hector is trying to enlist Zoyd's assistance in locating his ex-wife, Frenesi Gates. Frenesi, later on, appears to become the novel's main character. Dr. Deeply, on the other hand, is pursuing Hector because of his Tubal, i.e. television, addiction and because he has escaped from the Tubal Detox Center. Get the picture? Zoyd and Frenesi have a daughter, Prairie, who leaves her father when Hector intensely closes in on him. I wanted the novel to continue with Zoyd's life because he is a fascinating character, what with his playful affection for Prairie and his hippie friends. But the modernist theme dictates otherwise. To develop the theme of the chaos, there are other lives to be concerned with, like the hotshot businessman, Takeshi that DL hooks up with. DL, Prairie's reflected sinful nature, and Prairie go to a semi-religious commune, 'Sisterhood of Kunoichi Attentives,' to stay. DL has lots to tell Prairie about her mother's past. Prairie also has an evil friend in her adolescence, named Che. Mr. Pynchon is emphasizing that Americans have resorted to an 'institution' mentality to find identity and a sense of common values in. Everyday life lacks stability. Mr. Pynchon deals primarily with the death and destruction that have taken over the American landscape. A college campus has become a battleground. There is a revolutionary atmosphere in Vineland. We meet a community of people, Thanatoids, who believe that life is death in action. Thanatoids do not have anything to do, they are purposeless. People aren't communicating anymore. Love isn't even helpful anymore. Man in America has lost touch with himself and his values. The character who represents the destructive principle is U.S. Attorney, Brock Vond, who pursues Frenesi and is her boyfriend. It is the government that has taken Zoyd's house at the end. In this moribund context, the media is central to the meaning of life. Frenesi is a film editor. The history of life is what is captured by the media. We learn of Frenesi's work with the 24fps Gang. As the Reality Principle, Life means, then, Frenesi's life. Frenesi has a recurring apocalyptic dream in which she does espy hope. It is by means of Frenesi's ancestors that Mr. Pynchon incorporates the respectable American tradition, or heritage, if you will. This past, as we know, is not without its troubles. Frenesi finds her life a game of meaningless time. She is pursued by Brock Vond, the destructive principle, so we can conclude that life is pretty perilous in Vineland. Vineland is an idyllic land that represents the America that dates all the way back to the time of the thirteen colonies. It is the novel's symbol of what is enduring and all-powerful for the American people, though death and destruction mar the landscape. Is there hope for redemption? Prairie embodies the novel's hope and sense of regeneration. Zoyd, first of all, feels responsibility toward Prairie. Prairi

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2001

    A different kind of rainbow

    'Vineland' is a great little novel. It was unfortunately overlooked,'cause fans and critics rightfully expected a book that was as good as 'Gravity's Rainbow' after the 17 year wait-'Vineland' is certainly not 'Gravity's Rainbow', so if you want a Pynchon novel that is 'Gravity's' equal then read 'Mason & Dixon' which is probably his best book! 'Vineland' is about something different, Pynchon lived in California while he was writing this book,so the palce he captured very well-but the story is very hard to follow,and dosen't really make sense until you've finished the whole book and you've taken some time to muse over it- The book is still a must, for a take on the 1980s which from its first page onward could have been written by only one person-Thomas Pynchon!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    It had been a while since I read any Pynchon so I decided to read Vineland before going into Inherent Vice. Vineland is a great book although it's hard for me to rank his books in any specific order. At times it can be difficult to follow, going into various flashbacks within flachbacks and then fastforwarding to the present. There are loads of Pynchon-esque references and humor laden character as well as situations. The setting of the book in California is described perfectly from Gordita Beach to Vineland. Read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2003

    Excellent Satire

    It took 17 years to write a follow up to Gravity's Rainbow, and while most people were expecting the second coming, he burst unto the public with this small, yet extremely complex and satirical tale of a hippy trying to locate his daughter. Of course, in glorious Pynchon style, this is just a set-up for a story that satires everything and everyone involved in our commerically-saturated world. One of the best books of the 90's, and a necessary read for anyone fed up with the way things are going.

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    Posted August 10, 2009

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    Posted June 4, 2009

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    Posted February 27, 2009

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    Posted August 14, 2010

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