Zoyd Wheeler has been living a quiet life in Vineland, a fictitious town in Northern California, with his daughter Prairie. Zoyd does odd jobs for neighbors, grows marijuana, and collects a government pension for committing a crazy act every year: specifically, for throwing himself through a plate-glass window in a local restaurant in front of television cameras. Prairie works in a local health-food pizza parlor and hangs out with a rock band, Billy Barf and the Vomitones.
Things are changing at the novel’s beginning. The site of Zoyd’s annual fling is shifted without explanation, and there are rumors of a major government antidrug operation in the area. Various kinds of police and federal troops are seen in Vineland. Hector Zuñiga warns Zoyd that Prairie is in danger, probably from Brock Vond. There are rumors that Vond has lost track of Frenesi, an agent whom he controls, and that he will try to find her by using Prairie. Prairie, on her own, is anxious for more information about her mother; Zoyd and Sasha Gates, Prairie’s grandmother, have told her only that Frenesi is underground, hiding from government agents because of her activities in the 1960’s.
Prairie, warned by her father that she should leave the area, goes with the band to Southern California, where they are scheduled to play at a Mafia wedding while pretending to be an Italian band. In the powder room, Prairie accidentally draws the attention of DL Chastain, a martial-arts expert who had been close to Frenesi in the turmoil of the 1960’s. DL introduces Prairie to the Sisterhood of Kunoichi Attentives, whose files reveal to the young woman the activities in which her mother had been...
(The entire section is 688 words.)