Thanks to Jeremy of READIN, I learned this morning that the forthcoming Thomas Pynchon book, a noirish novel entitled Inherent Vice, is now listed in Penguin's Summer 2009 online catalog. You can find an excerpt on page 44:
She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc hadn't seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower-print bikini, faded Country Joe and the Fish T-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she'd never look.ADDENDUM More info from Steven Moore: "Gaddis fans will recognize the term 'inherent vice' from The Recognitions, where it is first used in its art sense—the tendency for paintings to [deteriorate] if made from inferior materials—and then as a metaphor for character flaws: Basil Valentine mumbles the phrase on his deathbed in Hungary.
"That you, Shasta? The packaging fooled me there for a minute."
"Need your help, Doc."
they stood in the streetlight through the kitchen window there'd never much point putting curtains over and listened to the thumping of the surf from down the hill. Some nights, when the wind was right, you could hear the surf all over town.
Nobody was saying much. What was this? "So! You know I have an office now? Just like a day job and everything?"
"I looked in the phone book, almost went over there. But then I thought, better for everybody if this looks like a secret rendezvous."
OK, nothing romantic tonight. Bummer. But it might be a paying gig. "Somebody's keeping a close eye?"
"Just spent an hour on surface streets trying to make it look good."
"How about a beer?" He went to the fridge, pulled two cans out of the case he kept inside, handed one to Shasta.
"There's this guy," she was saying.
There would be. No point getting emotional. And if he had a nickel for every time he'd heard a client start off this way, he would be over in Hawaii now, loaded day and night, digging the waves at Waimea, or better yet hiring someone to dig them for him...."Gentleman of the straight-world persuasion," he beamed.
"OK, Doc. He's married."
She shook back hair that wasn't there and raised her eyebrows so what.
Groovy with Doc. "And the wife—she knows about you?"
Shasta nodded. "But she's seeing somebody too. Only it isn't just the usual number—they're working together on some creepy little scheme."
"To make off with hubby's fortune, yea, I think I heard of that happenin' once or twice around L.A. And...you want me to do what exactly?" He found the paper bag he'd brought his supper home in and got busy pretending to scribble notes on it, because straight-chick uniform, makeup supposed to look like no makeup or whatever, here came that old well-known hard-on Shasta was always good for sooner or later. Does it ever end, he wondered. Of course it does. It did.
"One tidbit I can add via my Penguin Press mole: Pynchon was asked to narrate the audio version of his new book, actually thought about it for a few days, but decided not to."
Thanks to the Gaddis and Pynchon mailing lists.