In the pure sense, Pynchon is a historical novelist, setting almost all his books in pre-contemporary periods associated with great transfers of power.
What unites the time periods in which the novels are set – and forms one of Pynchon’s most characteristic running themes – is the repression of a counterculture or a vision of freedom.
...we might call it the little guy against the Man.
Pynchon is no starry-eyed old hippie (or not entirely) but his novels ache with a kind of thwarted nostalgia for alternative Americas that never came to pass
"There is no avoiding time," Pynchon writes in Inherent Vice: "the sea of time, the sea of memory and forgetfulness, the years of promise, gone and unrecoverable, of the land almost allowed to claim its better destiny, only to have the claim jumped by evildoers known all too well, and taken instead and held hostage to the future we must live in now forever."
If the settings are historical, though, the register definitely isn’t: swinging ad lib between slangy slapstick and imposing gravitas
No Pynchonian hero or heroine is free from these musings; the author’s genius is to muddy the waters by making them all batty paranoiacs as well.