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