Highly Self-Involved Book Reviews, Pt. 2

This review features Netherland by Joseph O’Neill and Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Part 1 can be found here.

dutch californiaNetherland by Joseph O’Neill

This is not a book about Michael Jackson. Instead it’s about a middle-ager who plays cricket, which is meaningful, and is separated from his wife by September 11 anxiety. Then they do the Peaches and Herb routine. Despite the critical acclaim that this novel received, TBE’s literary editor was duly unimpressed. It seems like an updated, classed up and more multinational version of Richard Ford; the story of an aging white man’s existential crisis. We have a visceral reaction to this sort of thing, and we’re not sure if it’s because this sort of book is not age appropriate but it makes us realize what we (don’t) have to look forward to as we inexorably approach our semi-impending dotage.

Not really a big fan of the Strokes but this one sums up our feelings about this type of book.

Speaking of MJ, he answered the Strokes question. It’s too bad.

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Love this one so bad. TBE wishes we could write like Thomas Pynchon. The things we especially like: Pynchon understands that in order to be serious you don’t have to be serious. The text is littered with LOL Smiley Face-inducing moments. Also this is way better than Vinelands, the other “Pynchon does California” novel we’ve read. After we wrote this review which is actually pretty terrible we came upon a review in the LRB that summed up our feelings about why we like Pynchonian style in American letters more than the Fordian style: “Still, in this respect, Pynchon’s alienating novels are altogether more ‘realistic’ than any number of finely wrought explorations of individual consciousness.”

We would have liked to have featured Nice & Smooth’s “Paranoia,” which swings more like the book does, as a musical accompaniment to this review, but due to some callous oversight it’s not available on YouTube.


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