I've read some Pynchon in the past-- some, meaning:
1) I have opened "Gravity's Rainbow" approximately three times while sitting on the toilet, read three sentences per visit, and decided that this was obscenely optimistic bathroom reading
2) "Slow Learner."
3) "V." Though to be honest I don't think I finished it. In college I was terrible about abandoning books halfway through
This book is less Pynchon-y than any of those, though it's still crammed with characters who sometimes seem to exist chiefly to be branded with a kooky name (Jason Velveeta) and then disappear. I haven't finished the book yet-- about 60 pages left-- but, if all these characters intend to return, the final pages are going to be like watching an extravagance of weirdos and paranoiacs endlessly disembarking a clown car.
I'm not a huge fan of noir, and a first-timer to hippie noir, if that's even a recognizable genre, but this book-- for all its weirdness and whimsy-- has actually been quite a bit of fun so far. If you can tolerate an eccentric dentist/suspected ne'er-do-well operating from inside a building shaped like a giant golden tooth and later suffering a serious accident on a trampoline, last seen in the presence of a car full of potheads driven by a-- okay, so that's what we're dealing with.
Anyway, I thought it would grate on me. The 60s are not being defined by the writing; little is being made in the way of sinister, braided social commentary, which is possibly what I was expecting. It's more like a costume party. Breezy. Drug-addled. But I'm glad I carried on. The plot is coming together, against all odds. Probably my favorite Pynchon so far, so far.