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Inherent Vice’s Cover

Vice
If you’re at all like me, when you saw the cover of Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming novel you cringed, and then reminded yourself that dust jackets were made to be removed.

Well, it seems that Pynchon himself is to blame for this image. ThomasPynchon.com has the details:

The cover illustration is by Maui artist Darshan Zenith. The piece is called "Cadillac Hearse" or, perhaps, "Eternal Summer" — "A ‘Retired’ Caddy Hearse Greets Daybreak at a Beach Surf Shop" — and is one of many prints available on his Cruiser Art website. The 1959 Cadillac Hearse is parked in front of the "Endless Summer Surf Shop" (namechecking the Beach Boys Greatest Hits collection and Bruce Brown’s 1966 surfing documentary!). (Thanks to the Pynchon List for identifying the image.)

Apparently, Pynchon was searching the Web for the right image for the Inherent Vice cover, found the Cruiser Art website
and the "Caddy Hearse" piece, and wanted to use it. Penguin contacted
Cruiser Art and obtained the appropriate permissions. Darren Haggar is
Penguin’s art director for this project.

They also note that the font has been updated, from the bodice-ripper
cursive to a more modern blocky neon (above). A vast improvement, in my opinion.

The book now has an Amazon page (albeit, sans cover). The street date is August 4, but as yet there’s no snappy marketing copy by Pynchon.

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  1. New Pynchon Details–Inherent Vice Penguin has posted its Summer ’09 catalog online (PDF format), and it includes some details as to Pynchon’s new novel. The title will be Inherent...
  2. Pynchon at 13 Pynchon enters The New York Times best-selling fiction list at #13. This link also includes an artist’s extrapolation forward from a high school yearbook photo...
  3. Master P Ron Silliman thinks the new documentary about Thomas Pynchon pretty much sucks. What we get instead is a tour of some elements of the Thomas...
  4. Weight of Numbers Journey This is interesting. The Times (London) takes you through the three year odyssey of Simon Ings’s The Weight of Numbers, from conception to publication. To...
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6 comments to Inherent Vice’s Cover

  • Scott, I am not an expert in Thomas Pynchon but I am an expert in 60s classic rock, so I thought I’d mention that this image contains a hidden reference to Neil Young along with the apparent reference to the Beach Boys. Neil Young famously drove a hearse around Los Angeles in his early years, and later he wrote a song about it called “Long May You Run” which contains the lines:
    “Maybe the Beach Boys have got you now
    with their waves, singing ‘Caroline No’”
    (Coincidentally but unrelatedly, I just wrote about this song on LitKicks, though I had no idea about this cover).
    I don’t know if this fact will prove relevant to Pynchonians, but it is a fact, so I’m sending it along. Here’s a link (there must be many others as well) describing the legendary tale I’m talking about.

  • DCNahm

    1. “Ghostbusters”
    2. I like the cover.

  • Yeah, have to say I like it too. I would describe it as anti-chic, or jolie laide.

  • If this is Pynchon’s way of signaling that he would like to get in on the writing for the forthcoming “third Ghostbusters movie slash video game”, that would certainly signal the dawning of a golden age.

  • EC

    To me it looks like a tongue-in-cheek version of an Elmore Leonard cover. Because, like, I, er, saw one at an airport book kiosk . . .

  • Tim

    Levi – I doubt if the car in ‘Long May You Run’ was the hearse. He last saw that car alive near Blind River, Ontario after they missed that shift on the long decline. Been there lots – the highway hills are incredible.
    I’ve always wondered why the Beach Boys were mentioned in this song and had speculated that perhaps one of them had bought the hearse that was driven to California. ??

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