honest scholar resident on one of thosensocialist (and hardly democratic) enclavesnotherwise known as an Americannuniversity.nAllan C. Carlson is president of ThenRockford Institute and author of ThenSwedish Experiment in FamilynPolitics: The Myrdals and thenInterwar Population Crisisn(Transaction).nPacific Rimshotnby Gregory McNameenVinelandnby Thomas PynchonnBoston: Little, Brown and Company;n383 pp., $19.95nThomas Pynchon has been livingnout of the public eye for almostnfour decades now, a literary hermit whonhas succeeded by his very reclusivenessnin attracting more attention than his lessnretiring colleagues. Seventeen yearsnago, his novel Gravity’s Rainbow elevatednPynchon to cult-hero status, andnever since his acolytes have eagerlynawaited a new blockbuster from theirnmaster. His new novel, Vineland, isn’tnquite it, but it offers an appropriatelynmillenarian opening chord for the literaturenof the 1990’s.nVineland, the name the Vikingsngave their version of North America anthousand years ago, is Pynchon’s newnworld: the forested coast of northernnCalifornia, where a generation of refugeesnfrom the 60’s have settled to grownmarijuana, live free or at least untroublednby reality, and die. One of them,nprotagonist Zoyd Wheeler, is the hippienEveryman, a drug-hazed veteran ofnthe Free Speech Movement and thenHaight, who lives from one federalndisability check to the next, the onlynrequirement for such support beingnthat he commit one “publicly crazy”nact each year, in full view of thendispossessed lumberjacks, hermits,npunks, dopers, narcs, and yuppies whoninhabit Zoyd’s once-isolated world.nAs the novel opens, Zoyd learns thatnhis subsidy is being cut, for this is 1984nand Reaganomics is in full tilt. To addninsult to fiscal injury, Zoyd’s teenagedndaughter Prairie has just announcedn40/CHRONICLESnher intention of moving in with hernbemohawked boyfriend, a singer in anthrash-and-smash rock band and authornof the feminist anthem, “I’m just anFloozie with an Uzi.” Bent on findingnherself, Prairie (in Vineland only thenhouse pets have normal names) is justnas intent on learning about her etherealnmother’s past, for of his ex-wife, Frenesi,nZoyd has remarked only that duringntheir time together he “felt likenMildred Pierce’s husband.” Prairie’snlatter-day “Telemachia” occupiesnmuch of the interior of Pynchon’snnovel, and the journey is a parody of anlong, strange trip any Woodstock childnwould recognize, replete with Vietnamnveterans with such names as Blood andnVato, with the infantile society of then1980’s and its wacked-out denizens.nFrenesi, Prairie learns, had longnbeen an unwilling informant for thenFBI during the antiwar years, controllednby one Brock Vond, now thendistrict commissar for the Drug EnforcementnAgency and resident nemesisnof the local dopers. Like Zoyd,nFrenesi has drifted through two decadesnwithout a mooring cable, flittingnfrom one pop fad, one designer drug,nto another; only when Prairie reachesntoward her does she begin to assumensomething of the humanity that abandonednthe wild shores of Vinelandnyears before. But Frenesi’s transformationnis too little too late, as Vinelandnrockets along to its nicely twisted ending:na far more neatly arranged closenthan that of Gravity’s Rainbow, whichnliterally (and literarily) disintegrated.nReaders who reach the end of Vineland,nhaving exerted the effort thatnPynchon requires, will be surprisednonly by the ultimate conventionality ofnthe story that led them there.nOne of Pynchon’s better conceits innhis dystopian novel is the “thanatoidnsyndrome,” whose willing victims existnin a state “like death but not quitendead.” These Thanatoids, who inhabitnthe greater mass of America, makeninroads into Vineland throughout thenbook, glued to the television, abhorringnradical, liberal, conservative, any independentnthought and all who engage innit, sating themselves on RabelaisiannTV-dinner banquets and their narcolepticndenouements.nVineland is minor Pynchon. Certainlynit does not approach the jitterynjapery of Gravity’s Rainbow or thennnmysteries of V, his first novel; in manynways, thematic and rhetorical, it resemblesnhis quickie fable The Crying of Lotn49. But it is of a piece with all thosenbooks, extending a vision now grim,nnow comic, always parodistic, careeningnfrom style to style, wearing itsninfluences proudly, never concernednwith what the neighbors will think. It isnminor Pynchon, but Vineland is wellnworth the attention of readers.nGregory McNamee is the author ofnThe Return of Richard Nixonn(Harbinger House), a collection ofnessays.nA Musical ColossusnbyJ.O. TatenConversations with Von Karajannby Richard OsbornenNew York: Harper & Row;n157 pp., $22.50nHerbert von Karajan’s sixty years ofnconducting have left their marknnot only in the memories of generationsnof concertgoers, but in the holdings ofnrecord collectors all over the wodd. Innaddition to being the “General Music-nDirector of Europe,” Karajan is by farnthe best-selling serious musician whonhas ever recorded. Now that his extensivenseries of CD videos is being released,nhe has captured a new technologynand managed to immortalize hisnvisual image with his sound image, justnas he had planned to do. Perhaps henshould also have left us a hologram, asnSir Laurence Olivier did.nKarajan has gone further in reifyingnmusic, in dissolving his person intoncorporate entities, and in managing hisncareer and life as a textbook example ofnpublic relations, than any other musiciannhas ever done. He never explainednsatisfactorily just why the cash nexus,nthe glossy photos, the deluxe packaging,nand the contrived mysteries were allnnecessary to share the joy of music withnhis public. Nor did he ever explain whynhe kept re-recording the same material,nwhy he supplied so much “light music”n(amiable trash, which he does betternthan anyone else), why he insisted onnmiscasting operatic roles so often, ornwhy some of his work was cold, empty.n