A LIST OF POTHEAD NOVELS




(Barack Obama, in his college days)

***



INHERENT VICE BY THOMAS PYNCHON

There was now sudden hammering on the front door…it was Denis from down the hill, whose name everybody pronounced to rhyme with “penis,” appearing even more disoriented that usual.

“So Doc, I’m up on Dunecrest, you know the drugstore there, and like I noticed their sign, ‘Drug’? ‘Store’? Okay? Walked past it a thousand times, never really saw it—Drug, Store! Man, far out, so I went in and Smilin Steve was at the corner and I said, like, ‘Yes, hi, I’d like some drugs please?’—oh, here, finish this up if you want.”

“Thanks, all’s at’ll do ‘s just burn my lip.”

Denis by now had drifted into the kitchen and started looking through the fridge.

***



INFINITE JEST BY DAVID FOSTER WALLACE


…Orin and I decided to dart up to the loft over the Weston house’s garage to smoke a bit of Bob Hope, which is to say high-resin marijuana, and in the loft, high, wandered disastrously into the sort of pseudophilosophical mental labyrinth that Bob Hope smokers are always wandering into and getting trapped in and wasting huge amounts of time (*footnote*) inside an intellectual room they cannot negotiate their way out of, and by the time we hadn’t resolved the abstract problem that had put us into the labyrinth but just as always had gotten so hungry we abandoned it and stumbled out and down the loft’s wooden ladder, the sun was all the way on the other side of the sky over Wayland and Sudbury…

(*footnote*) This tendency to involuted abstraction is sometimes called “Marijana Thinking”; and by the way, the so-called “Amotivational Syndrome” consequent to massive Bob Hope consumption is a misnomer, for it is not that Bob Hope smokers lose interest in practical functioning, but rather Marijana-Think themselves into labyrinths of reflexive abstraction that seem to cast doubt on the very possibility of practical functioning, and the mental labor of finding one’s way out consumes all available attention and makes the Bob Hope smoker look physically torpid and apathetic and amotivated sitting there, when really he is trying to claw his way out of a labyrinth. Note that the overwhelming hunger (the so-called “munchies”) that accompanies cannabis intoxication may be a natural defense mechanism against this kind of loss of practical function, since there is no more practical function anywhere than foraging for food.

***



GOD JR. BY DENNIS COOPER

When you’re stoned and you see someone you think you know unbelievably well fly through a windshield, it’s not real. If you stay stoned, it stays unreal.

***



RED DIRT MARIJUANA AND OTHER TASTES BY TERRY SOUTHERN

The Negro took another pinch of it and briskly crushed it between his flat palms, then held them up, cupped, smelling it.

“They wouldn’t of knowed what it was noway,” he said.

“You crazy?” said Harold, frowning. “You think my Dad don’t know Mex’can loco-weed when he sees it?”

“Don’t look much like no loco-weed now though, do it?” said the Negro flatly, raising expressionless eyes to the boy.

“He’s seen it dried out, too, I bet,” said the boy, loyally, sullen, but looking away.

“Sho’ he is,” said C.K., weary and acid. “Sho’, I bet he done blow a lot of it too, ain’t he? Sho’, why I bet you daddy one of the biggest ole hop-heads in Texas—I bet he smoke it an’ eat it an’ just anyway he can git it into his ole haid! Hee-hee!” He laughed at the mischievous image. “Ain’t that right, Hal’?”

“You crazy?” demanded Harold, frowning terribly; he took the Negro’s wrist. “Lemme smell it,” he said.

He drew back after a second.

“I can’t smell nothin’ but your dang sweat,” he said.

***



CHRONIC CITY BY JONATHAN LETHEM

He sparked the first joint and passed it to Richard, then went on rolling two more, fingertips busy like a mad scientist at a console. “You’ll want to be freshly stoned,” he announced to no one in particular, to all of us. Richard didn’t hesitate, leaning back in his tux, now untucked and dangling like a tongue, and drew in a lungful, seemingly certain he could conduct a diagnosis of Perkus in a state of intoxicated complicity. Then made as if to pass the joint to me, skipping Georgina Hawkmanaji, who sat erect and curious, pleasantly impassive, between us. Georgina reached out to intercept it, her glance at him only sweet, unreprimanding. She crossed her eyes and pursed her lips kissingly outward, rather than clamping them together, painting the rolling paper with burgundy lipstick before curtly coughing out her portion and waving the joint in my direction. I had to cradle her hand to steady it, then pluck the joint from her trembling fingers with my other hand.

***



WONDER BOYS BY MICHAEL CHABON

“Well, sure, then,” I said. “Go ahead and roll me one. If you want.” I reached into my vest and fished out the little pack of Zig-Zags. “Here you go. Try not to let it all blow away, though.”

He lowered the glove compartment lid again, spread a rolling paper flat across it, pinched off a small bud from the bag, dropped it into the pleat. He zipped shut the Baggie and set it under his thigh. An eddy of wind curled around the sheet of rolling paper and sent it sailing across the surface of the glove compartment lid.

“Careful,” I said, “Look out, man. That stuff has to last me a long time.” As I reached out to catch the skittering paper bateau I let go of the steering wheel and we bumped up onto the shoulder of the road, then off. “Jesus.”

“Sorry,” he said, retrieving the scattered elements of the joint. He looked at me, then started to roll up the bud, intact, as if it were a little gift he was wrapping to give to me.

“No, James, you have to break it up, a little, or the thing isn’t going to draw.” I looked at him. “I thought you said you knew how to do it.”

***



RULE OF THE BONE BY RUSSELL BANKS

I really wanted some weed. It had been a couple days since I’d been high and whenever I went that long I’d get jumpy and restless and kind of irritated at the world, feeling like everything and everyone was out to get me and I was no good and a failure at life which was basically true. A little smoke though and all that irritation and nervousness and my wicked low self-esteem immediately went away. They say weed makes you paranoid but for it was the opposite.

***



THE FAN MAN BY WILLIAM KOTZWINKLE

…and now that I am in this quiet little spot, let me roll a tremendous joint of banana flakes in licorice paper, and though it is as big as a gorilla’s finger, smoke it all completely entirely…

***



A HUNDRED CAMELS IN THE COURTYARD BY PAUL BOWLES

Moroccan kif-smokers like to speak of the “two worlds,” the one ruled by inexorable natural laws, and the other, the kif world, in which each person perceives “reality” according to the projections of his own essence, the state of consciousness in which the elements of the physical universe are automatically rearranged by cannabis to suit the requirements of the individual. These distorted variations in themselves generally are of scant interest to anyone but the subject at the time he is experiencing them.

***



BONGWATER BY MICHAEL HORNBURG

His plants were in a cliff side alcove, camouflaged from the air by army surplus netting hanging tree to tree, high enough to catch eight hours of sunshine. Some plants were seven feet tall with stalks thick as baseball bats, the leaves larger than my head, the buds purple and sticky, the size of carrots. The whole forest reek of ganja.

Phil dug up a stack sealed in plastic under a rock and some leaves, concealed in a bed of ghost fern and nettle. I handed him some papers and he rolled a Magic-Marker-sized doobie.

Lying on a large white rock overlooking the hillside hemlock, we soaked up some afternoon sun, smoking reefer until stoned silent. Mary fell asleep. I sat beside Phil, watching puffy clouds engulf one another high above the scraggy peaks of the Coast Range. Shrilling birdcalls and the rhythmic buzz of insects pulsed in the background, the air smell of winter rot baking in the hot sun.

“How’s it been going out here?” I asked. “Don’t you ever get lonely?”

“Time passes real slow, there’s a lot of time,” he said, staring into the sky.

***



HAIRY POTHEAD AND THE MARIJUANA STONE BY DANA LARSEN


McGanjagal passed the still-burning joint to Hogride, who took it between his thick fingers and inhaled the rest of it in one, long toke. Then she bent over the bundle of blankets as Duinthadope opened them to peer inside. They could see a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead, they could see a curiously-shaped cut, like a seven-pointed leaf.

"Is that what - ?" whispered Professor McGanjagal.

"Yes," said Duinthadope. "He'll have that scar forever."

"Couldn't you do something about it?"

"Even if I could, I wouldn't," replied Duinthadope. "Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a miniature map of every outdoor crop on the West Coast. Anyways, let's get this over with."

Duinthadope turned towards a nearby house.

"Could I - could I say goodbye ta him, sir?" asked Hogride sheepishly, flicking the tiny roach from his hand.

He bent his great, shaggy head over Hairy and exhaled a thick cloud of sweet smoke which surrounded the sleeping child, then leaned in closer and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Suddenly, Hogride let out a wail like a wounded pit bull.

"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGanjagal. "You'll wake the Squares!"

"S-s-sorry," sobbed Hogride, taking out a large hemp handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it - Mary-Jane and Jay dead - an' poor little 'airy off ter live with Squares -"

"It's the best place for him," said Duinthadope firmly. "His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."

"A letter?" repeated Professor McGanjagal faintly. "Really, Duinthadope, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him. This boy is a Pothead! I doubt these folks have ever had a toke in their lives."

"Exactly," said Duinthadope. "Where better to hide the boy until things blow over? He'll be better growing up here, away from all of that, until he's ready to take it."

Duinthadope turned and stepped over the low garden wall, then walked to the front door. He laid Hairy gently on the doorstep, took a letter written on hemp paper out of his cloak and tucked it inside Hairy's blankets, then came back to join his two companions.

They stood and looked at the bundle, then Duinthadope lit another joint and they shared it in silence.

"Well," said Duinthadope finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here."

Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hogride silently swung himself onto the motorbike and kicked the engine to life. With a roar he rode off into the night.

"I shall see you soon I expect, Professor McGanjagal," said Duinthadope, nodding to her. She smiled wanly, popped a toffee into her mouth, and turned to walk away.

Duinthadope walked the other way, lighting up another joint as he went. "Good luck, Hairy," he murmured, as he disappeared into the darkness and a fresh cloud of pungent smoke.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I've wanted to check out Thomas Pynchon so maybe I'll start with this and not Gravity's Rainbow.

Nadine said...

I love the Infinite Jest quote - I've climbed that labyrinth many a time and often been saved by munchies, haha. And really? Professor McGanjagal? Stoned genius.

Anonymous said...

How about Dr. Grass?

Anonymous said...

BUDDING PROSPECTS - TC Boyle

Chris Dankland said...

Thanks for the comments--I haven't read Dr. Grass or Budding Prospects but I'm definitely adding them to my reading list, thanks for the tip...

Inherent Vice is a good gateway novel for Pynchon--a slightly more innocent thrill before you end up seriously addicted to the harder stuff, living alone in a cockroach ridden hotel room with a copy of Gravity's Rainbow, three dictionaries, two 19th century travel guides, the complete Roky Erickson discography, an aeronautics manual, a Ouija board, and life starts getting weird...

Anonymous said...

Puff by Bob Flaherty.

postitbreakup said...

awesome, think i'm gonna try inherent vice or chronic city

Chris Dankland said...

cool, inherent vice is definitely my favorite of the two but chronic city is a good novel too, Perkus Tooth is a badass

Post a Comment