Thursday, November 21, 2013

"It's raining in Los Angeles ... "

... a friend tells me, a fine opening for a hard-boiled story. Said friend tells me that rain is rare enough in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula that Angelenos and Angelenas make a big deal of it. But I'm no Raymond Chandler; I'll take the sun when I visit there in a few weeks.

In preparation for the trip, I've been riffling crime novels and stories set in and around L.A., seeing how authors manufacture their own versions of the city. Thomas Pynchon does it with period vocabulary in the opening pages of Inherent Vice, his 2009 novel set in the Los Angeles of 1969 and 1970.

Pynchon has his characters say things like: "But say I just wanted to hang out and rap with this Wolfmann dude?" But what caught my eye even more than obvious gambits like that was Pynchon's use of speech patterns I associate with the slackers of recent years but that nonetheless feel right for the time of the book's setting.

Characters turn declarations into questions, or, should I say, into questions? They begin statements in the middle and trail off into irrelevance without supplying intervening detail.  They open with "So...," as if resuming, without being asked, an old story. Today, that's a precious, annoying affectation. For a book set in 1969, it's a nice objective correlative of the era's proverbial druggy self-involvement. (I don't know if people talked that way back then; I was just 10 years old and had not developed the ear for speech that I have now. But so far, it works in Pynchon's book.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

Labels: , ,

15 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

Confession! I read Pynchon's book when it first came out, and I was unimpressed and annoyed by it. The Pynchonesque gamesmanship of it wore off within 25 pages. Of course, that could just be my impatience with Pynchon's well-worn tongue-in-cheek postmodern song-and-dance routines. To my mind, he wrote one barely half-way decent book, The Crying of Lot 49, and everything else is nearly unreadable--even though literary critics have almost always fallen over backwards trying to love all over Pynchon's every utterance. To my mind, he's perpetrated one grand literary hoax throughout his career. But, hey, that is just one reader's opinion.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I'd like to read this for the L.A. angle. I do think it rains there more than it's given credit for, as the storms we have often seem to have come from there or to be headed there.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I did say I was riffling rather than reading. I will be eager to see how well Pynchon can sustain his hippie version of the woman who walks in on the private investigator. I'll want to see if he seems to be having fun doing it.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

... the storms we have often seem to have come from there or to be headed there.

Now, that's an independent clause to spark one's imagination. I am no judge of Los Angeles weather. I have been in the city just once, years ago, and I remember no rain.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I should say, R.T., that you're a better than I. I can rarely force myself to finish reading a book that annoys me in some way. I'm sure my impatience has cost me some good reading.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I'm not much of a weather watcher, but as I have family both in the L.A. and San Diego area, as well as Marin, I've often had occasion to compare where a storm front is and where it's going.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've paid more attention to the weather in San Francisco. In 2010, I read or heard a bit about the microclimates caused by the city's topography. I experienced gorgeous springlike days in Noe Valley and wind whipping the rain into my face on California Street. But I'll catch up on my Southern California topography and climatology this time.

November 22, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

By the way, my sister tells me that it's been very rainy and miserable in L.A. all this week. We're hoping that it clears by Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One of my L.A. friends tells me that poor Angelenos have been shivering and bundling up in those 60-degree temperatures.

You may be in for some bad weather, because I am told that the medium-range forecast in L.A. calls for good weather when I'm there.

November 23, 2013  
Blogger Roman Noir said...

Well, it sprinkled here for 1 day, I wouldn't exactly call it rain! I love it when it rains in Lost Angeles! Peter, I'm exciting you are coming! What are your plans?

November 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I plan to soak up a lot of Chandler and other L.A. ambiance is what I plan.

November 25, 2013  
Blogger Solea said...

Venice is where I see you...Death is a Lonely Business! Make sure to drive down PCH!
There's Chandler's Hollywood office building too. I'm sure you'll have fun doing one of the downtown LA art deco walks and checking out Chaplin's theatre on Broadway. Of course there is nothing left on Bunker Hill as it's been totally "revitalized". Don't forget the house where the Black Dahlia was murdered near the Observatory...great hiking too.
Just don't get caught up in the Hipster recommendations. If you want some damn good pizza try Masa in Echo Park! You'll love Bookfellows indy bookstore in Glendale and the downtown library is biutiful (and very Chandleresque)! Will your LA DBB fans get to meet you?

November 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I will have Angelenos and Angelenas as guides. I trust them, but perhaps as a safeguard I will issue a no-hipsters warning. And yes, two of the three friends on the docket so far are people I met through DBB.

Thanks for those recommendations; I could meet you at one of those places; the itinerary grows.

In re Ellroy, I have been riffling the L.A. Quartet. Trouble with those books is that I think it's only with "White Jazz" that he goes completely nuts and therefore gets truly interesting, though I did read "L.A. Confidential" in one sitting years ago.

November 26, 2013  
Blogger Roman Noir said...

I'm sure you will visit Small World Books in Venice. I also recommend the Cicada club in downtown & hopefully Vaude and the Villains will be playing while you're here! Bike riding down the LA river is fun too!

November 26, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I am adding all these suggestions to my list.

As it happens, I am wearing my T-shirt from Book 'Em in South Pasadena as I type this comment.

November 26, 2013  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home