Bleeding Edge

Bleeding Edge

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
10
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The Washington Post
"Brilliantly written… a joy to read… Bleeding Edge is totally gonzo, totally wonderful. It really is good to have Thomas Pynchon around, doing what he does best." (Michael Dirda)

It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left.

Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics--carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts--without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom--two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood--till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.

With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we've journeyed to since.

Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?

Hey. Who wants to know?

Slate.com
"If not here at the end of history, when? If not Pynchon, who? Reading Bleeding Edge , tearing up at the beauty of its sadness or the punches of its hilarity, you may realize it as the 9/11 novel you never knew you needed… a necessary novel and one that literary history has been waiting for."

The New York Times Book Review
Exemplary… dazzling and ludicrous... Our reward for surrendering expectations that a novel should gather in clarity, rather than disperse into molecules, isn't anomie but delight. " (Jonathan Lethem)

Wired magazine
" The book's real accomplishment is to claim the last decade as Pynchon territory, a continuation of the same tensions -- between freedom and captivity, momentum and entropy, meaning and chaos -- through which he has framed the last half-century."

***A New York Times Notable Book of 2013***
Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, c2013
ISBN: 9781594204234
Branch Call Number: PYN
Characteristics: 477 p. ;,25 cm

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a
augsburgerin
Mar 28, 2017

Typical Pynchon in that you never completely know what is going on but less so than some of his other books. I very much enjoyed the main character Maxine and the picture of post-dot.com boom New York. Funny, touching and silly all in one.

s
stewstealth
Nov 14, 2015

Found it amusing at times however the narrative, characterizations and prose all needed reworking. Carefully keep track of introduced characters as they pop in and out with little or no background or development.

l
laylm220
Apr 30, 2015

It was okay. It took me forever to finish this book- I just couldn't get into it.

d
donnlmp
Sep 12, 2014

Annoying style. Reads like the author was on uppers the whole time he was writing. Too smart-alecky for its own good. Stopped reading after four chapters. Don't bother.

f
foggyi
Jul 14, 2014

I wanted to read this book for its great revelations and understandings of 9/11 but paid too high a price. Right away it comes off as too esoteric. The only people are Jewish New Yorkers, everyone else is an ethnic or regional caricature. With no constructed plot there is no hero's journey. There is also no antagonist but rather the pop culture of the late nineties still oozing into the new century. Pynchon's only goal here may be to lament the loss of reality. New York as it was for his generation. Real capital and real labor that leads to real production and real fulfillment. And a time when the hyped-up ever-present threat of a bogeyman did not consume our daily lives. These are worthwhile pursuits but poorly achieved. Be careful when embarking upon this book. Abandon when you find yourself counting the pages.

g
gbjgaudet
May 04, 2014

No stars. Unreadable.

niftygal Feb 02, 2014

Top 10 list 2013 Entertainment weekly

s
StarGladiator
Dec 26, 2013

The most incredibly tedious and monotonous book ever; all the characters sound alike, as if they have the same voice, et cetera! This is surely one over-hyped author! Maybe it's ethnic; you have to be a Jewish New Yorker to appreciate this extraordinarily monotonous pile of something or other? Based upon this novel (?), it should be suggested that writing might not be Pynchon's strong point, he should think of pursuing some other career track? Or stick to writing those AIPAC newsletters?

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lukasevansherman
Nov 09, 2013

If not the greatest novelist of his generation (that goes to Philip Roth), the reclusive Thomas Pynchon may be the most influential, as he casts a shadow that falls over big guns like Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, William Gibson and Jonathan Lethem, among others. His latest opus, his 8th novel, takes on 9/11 and the the mood and events of the early '00s. Pynchon is nothing if not ambitious, but this ultimately falls flat and fails to make sense of the period, despite copious period details like the growth of the internet, the dotcom bubble, Keanu Reeves movies, Jay-Z and Nas, beanie babies and even "Friends." Yes, Thomas Pynchon, the writer of "Gravity's Rainbow" has put "Friends" in one of his books. And this is an odd, uneven mix of the whimsical and trivial with the tragic and grave. Pynchon's late style is strangely lighter and more superficial than in his earlier works. "The Trade Center tower were religious too. They stood for what this country worships above everything else, the market, always the holy f***in market."

d
diggie
Oct 29, 2013

i'm not sure how successful it is as a novel, but then i'm not sure it is a novel.
it is definitely the funniest thing i've read in a long time.

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