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It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.
In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there . . . or . . . if you were there, then you . . . or, wait, is it . . .
About the author: Thomas Pynchon is probably the only celebrity who means it when he says "No pictures" and "No comments." He lets his books do the talking. He has been compared to another reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, but Salinger can at least be located. Only Pynchon's closest friends know where to find him.
Here is what is known about him:
- He was born in Glen Cove, New York, in 1937.
- He attended Cornell University, enrolling in engineering physics, and transferred to the College of Arts and Science his sophomore year.
- After his sophomore year he enlisted in the Navy for two years, then returned to Cornell to earn a B.A. in English. One of his teachers was Vladimir Nabokov.
- He was friends with poet and folksinger Richard Farina, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1966.
- A little more was revealed about Pynchon when his former agent sold 120 letters Pynchon wrote him to a collector for $45,000. After the collector's death the family donated them to the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.