Mapping Inherent Vice

Pop Culture References

Despite his reputation as an intellectually challenging and serious novelist, Pynchon has long been infatuated with 20th-century pop culture — music (especially surf-rock), films, cartoons, TV, etc. In Inherent Vice, Doc Sportello is obsessed with the actor John Garfield (pictured left), and often watches his movies on TV. In an extended passage, Pynchon describes Doc’s late-night viewing of the Garfield vehicle He Ran All the Way; here is an article by film critic Glenn Kenny on about Pynchon’s treatment of this particular film, which includes the full relevant quotation and an analysis of same. A clip from the film is embedded below:

For a full list of the movies referenced throughout the novel, see this page of the Pynchon Wiki.

A great many songs and musical artists are referenced in the book as well, spanning such genres as surf-rock, jazz, pop, and other music of the sixties. The videos embedded below allow you to listen to some of the songs mentioned by name in Inherent Vice.

“Wipeout” by the Surfaris:

“Desafinado” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd:

“Bang Bang” by Bonzo Dog Band:

“Here Come the Hodads” by The Marketts:

For more Inherent Vice music, see the playlist provided by Pynchon at the book’s Amazon page (links to go to other Amazon pages where you can buy the music) or the Pynchon Wiki’s list of songs mentioned in the book.


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