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America Is ElsewhereThe Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture$
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Erik Dussere

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969913.001.0001

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Flirters, Deserters, Wimps and Pimps

Flirters, Deserters, Wimps and Pimps

Pynchon’s Two Americas

(p.131) 4 Flirters, Deserters, Wimps and Pimps
America Is Elsewhere

Erik Dussere

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Thomas Pynchon’s trilogy of California novels, The Crying of Lot 49, Inherent Vice, and Vineland. Pynchon’s novels create a model in which there are “two Americas,” the mainstream one represented by the American way of life, with its interlinking of political and commercial interests; and the true, alternative republic whose promise is perpetually betrayed. Pynchon, I suggest, uses the logic of American exceptionalism in order to argue that America perpetually fails to achieve the ideal state it imagines itself to be, producing a left-leaning narrative of national self-betrayal. In these novels, the promise of authenticity resides with the outcasts, the left-out and leftover, who have no place in a mainstream America that is wholly inhabited by consumer culture and so retreat to hidden enclaves where the promise of the republic may be revived or reinvented.

Keywords:   American exceptionalism, Real estate, Left politics, Thomas Pynchon, Conspiracy, 1960s counterculture

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