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Bleeding Edge: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Pynchon
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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***


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reviewed by David Kipen. Published 50 years ago by long-gone J.B. Lippincott & Co., Thomas Pynchon's V. wasn't just the best first novel ever, it was a blueprint for his entire career. Much as that book yoyo-ed between an international femme fatale and a feckless contemporary klutz, the Pynchon shelf has alternated between globe-trotting, century-spanning bricks like Gravity's Rainbow (1973), and impish, only slightly historical, California-set bagatelles like Inherent Vice (2009). Now comes Bleeding Edge, a lovably scruffy comedy of remarriage, half-hidden behind the lopsided Groucho mask of Pynchon's second straight private-eye story. Like Ornette Coleman's riff on The Rite of Spring, it starts out strong, misplaces the melody amid some delightfully surreal noodling, and finally swans away in sweet, lingering diminuendo. Almost all Pynchon's books are historical novels, with this one no exception. Where Vineland slyly set a story of Orwellian government surveillance in 1984, Bleeding Edge situates a fable of increasingly sentient computers in, naturally, 2001. Of course, the year 2001 means something besides HAL and Dave now, and Pynchon spirits us through "that terrible morning" in September--and its "infantilizing" aftermath--with unhysterical grace. Our heroine throughout is Maxine Tarnow, a defrocked fraud investigator and daftly doting Manhattan mom, still stuck in that early, "my husband...ex-husband" stage of an unwanted divorce. Maxi soon becomes embroiled in the mysterious case of one Lester Traipse, a superannuated Silicon Alley veteran who, along with the dotcom bubble, has just gotten popped. The plot's dizzying profusion of murder suspects plays like something out of early Raymond Chandler, under whose bright star Bleeding Edge unmistakably unreels. Shoals of red herrings keep swimming by, many of them never seen again. Still, reading Pynchon for plot is like reading Austen for sex. Each page has a little more of it than the one before, but you never quite get to the clincher. Luckily, Pynchon and Austen have ample recourse to the oldest, hardest-to-invoke rule in the book --when in doubt, be a genius. It's cheating, but it works. No one, but no one, rivals Pynchon's range of language, his elasticity of syntax, his signature mix of dirty jokes, dread and shining decency. It's a peculiarity of musical notation that major works are, more often than not, set in a minor key, and vice versa. Bleeding Edge is mellow, plummy, minor-key Pynchon, his second such in a row since Against the Day (2006)--that still-smoking asteroid, whose otherworldly inner music readers are just beginning to tap back at. But in its world-historical savvy, its supple feel for the joys and stings of love--both married and parental--this new book is anything but minor. On the contrary, Bleeding Edge is a chamber symphony in P major, so generous of invention it sometimes sprawls, yet so sharp it ultimately pierces. All this, plus a stripjoint called Joie de Beavre and a West Indian proctologist named Pokemon. Who else does that?David Kipen is the former director of reading initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts and is the founder of Libros Schmibros, a nonprofit lending library and used bookstore in Los Angeles.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Pynchon’s debut novel, V., appeared 50 years ago, and ever since he’s been tracking dubious covert actions and the arc and consequences of technology in novels of labyrinthine complexity, impish wit, and open-armed compassion. Of late, his inquiry has taken the form of rambunctious and penetrating crime novels. Inherent Vice (2009), currently being adapted for film, is set in 1960s Los Angeles and features a pothead PI and the launch of the digital revolution. In his latest, a hilarious, shrewd, and disquieting metaphysical mystery, Pynchon expresses love for New York City and leeriness of the seemingly boundless reach of the Internet. In spring 2001, the dot-com bubble has burst and 9/11 looms. Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator gone rogue, is unflappable, wise-cracking, Beretta-toting, and Jewish. Devoted to her young sons, she is embroiled in an amorphous case involving a sinister techie billionaire, diverted funds, Islamic terrorists, hip-hop-spouting Russian gangsters, a black-ops agent, a cosmic bike messenger, and a “Deep Web” virtual reality. Fearless, caustic, lightning-witted Maxine (sister to characters created by Sara Paretsky and Cynthia Ozick) instigates some of the funniest banter ever scripted. But amid the sharp hilarity of this exuberantly maze-like, pop-culture-peppered, deeply informed tale, Pynchon incisively and cuttingly broaches unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy of 9/11 and elucidates just how profoundly life has changed in its wake.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pynchon is a magnet for media attention and reader fervency, and this New York mystery will exert a powerful pull. --Donna Seaman

Product Details

  • File Size: 1570 KB
  • Print Length: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C5R78JM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,179 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
(248)
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooray for Pynchon October 20, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I read it right after finishing Against The Day. I feel that there are very few authors today who write as well as Pynchon. He uses metaphor beautifully, which few writers today do. This book contains a few of his wonderful long wild Faulkner-Kerouac-Coltraneish sentences (check out pages 311-312 in the hardcover edition)and great place descriptions. I wonder if "DeepArcher" is not in part an allusion to Lew Archer, the (anti) hero of Ross MacDonald's wonderful series of detective novels. I think that maybe this book needs to be approached as you approach those novels- not all of the plot twists themselves are so important, rather they serve as a frame for mood, description, language and characterization. (Here I need to give a plug to "The Doomsters" and "Black Money", in my opinion MacDonald's greatest books and a must reads for anyone interested in American literature.)I disagree with those who say that Pynchon's writing has not evolved. His early work saw characters as confluences of historical forces which I feel made his work kind of "chilly", however beginning with "Vineland" he still places his characters in a historical context but there is more of a traditional sense of characterization, I think. Maxine is a fully drawn, living character. I feel that this lends more depth and warmth to his work. Finally, as one who was living in the New York City area on 9/11, I feel that I can say that Pynchon's description of that time is completely accurate and describes the tragedy of that time in a very real, non-sensationalized way.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rock 'n roll literature October 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
the writing swings, rollicks, rolls, is darkly humorous and lacks nothing of Pynchon's normal brilliance. The story takes us back to the post dot-com bubble and for the main portion exists in that pre-9/11 world that seems so distant now. Fresh and lively, a pleasure to sit down with
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45 of 56 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So Forth October 23, 2013
By JB
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Oh, man, what a disappointment. Inherent Vice was accurately dismissed as 'Pynchon Lite'; Bleeding Edge can be disregarded as Virtual Pynchon: looks like the real thing but has no soul. All of his trademark elements - paranoia, wacky names, conspiracies and subconspiracies, acronyms, lefty politics, drug use - are present in spades. What's missing are compelling characters, a narrative, a purpose, something to say. What's worse, this is an incredibly unfunny book. Pynchon seems more interested in demonstrating how hip he still is (do we really want grandpa name-checking Bad Brains and the Bunnymen?) than developing a plot. Pynchon's heroes and villains are always cartoonish, but in this novel the schtick-factor is relentlessly tiresome. Nearly every sentence of dialogue is meant to be a punch line. The characters, regardless of sex or age, all sound alike, dropping unhilarious bugs bunnyisms in the exact same voice. Instead of getting on with the story, Pynchon simply adds new boring characters with each chapter, until the book is crammed with wise-crackin' geeks, freaks and sneaks, none of whom have anything to say. What comes through most strongly is Pynchon's glowering contempt - for modern NYC, the government, techno-society - basically everything. It's upsetting, and a bit insulting for his readers, for this author to waste his gifts on what is essentially a lengthy hate letter disguised as a 'comedic' detective story.

It is interesting how authors of Pynchon's vintage, say Roth, DeLillo, Barth, are unable to write from a woman's perspective. The book's protagonist, Maxine, is basically a middle-aged NY yenta version of Doc Sportello or Zoyd Wheeler.
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78 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorting Things Out September 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
[...]

Sorting Things Out (On Pynchon's Bleeding Edge)

September 14, 2013

It's here. Nine months after an Internet rumor that gestated into details ever more elusive and a glimpse of the first couple of paragraphs, Penguin Press has delivered Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, a historical romance about 9/11, the dot com bust, and New York City. Four hundred and seventy-seven pages spanning the period from March, 2001, to February, 2002, it's a Pynchon novel about a time and place most of his readers will have lived through. Yet, the events seem as far away as Malta in 1919 or Peenemunde in the 1940's. That's what Pynchon does best: show us how our memories are made to cast shadows on the fleeting and evanescent present.

And Bleeding Edge is almost certainly about the present, the here and now. Pynchon's use of the present tense throughout the novel, except for the frequent flashbacks, is reminiscent of the opening of Gravity's Rainbow--hallucinatory and ominous. The present tense turns some parts into one of those interactive text-based games from the late 1970's--unadorned and urgent. Other parts of the book read like a film treatment, a gentle nudge to some bold director. If Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (2014) is half as popular as I expect, filmmakers take notice of Bleeding Edge. Let me suggest Mary Herron for the job. Maxine Tarnow (nee Loeffler and to be portrayed, IMHO, by Catherine Keener), Pynchon's fraud investigating heroine off the licensure grid, is as interesting as Betty Paige or Valerie Solanas and could take on Patrick Bateman, a prototypical yuppie similar to the ones encountered in Bleeding Edge, although with more homicidal tendencies.

But the present tense is not just a gimmick.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could tell you what it was about
Do not waste your time. Has no plot, too many references I have no idea what they relate e d to
Published 19 days ago by William Grzonka
3.0 out of 5 stars From hysterics to abdication.
I am a big fan of Crying of Lot 49. Gave it a 5. However much Pynchon had me laughing uncontrollably for the first three acts, this one falls apart, and down with enough bizarre... Read more
Published 27 days ago by C. Adelman
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Lots of diverse characters in a crazy 9/11 NYC world. Author always has so many references and jokes, it's hard to keep up. Worth the read, by one of the all-time great writers.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia Englin
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is more like Inherent Vice than Against the Day
Pynchon is always incredible. This book is more like Inherent Vice than Against the Day. It's fun but probably not the best introduction to Pynchon. For that, I'd recommend V. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William Minton
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitting stride
As a fan of Pynchon's work this is his most accessible and poignant to this day and age. The resonance of 9/11 is felt throughout the book but more importantly so do the changes... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fibes
5.0 out of 5 stars TOO MUCH COMPUTER, TOO LITTLE VINTAGE PYNCHON
I have read all of Pynchon and William Gaddis, and find them the greatest American writers of the latter half of the 20th century. Read more
Published 1 month ago by lee hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Pynchon, you must read this one.
Thomas Pynchon moves to the twenty-first century and the New York hi-tech startup scene. Truly bewildering at some times -- as you might expect from this author. Very fun. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Oz DiGennaro
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Pynchon.
"Zany" is a descriptor regularly applied to the Marx Brothers but it also applies to this novel. After the suspension of belief, the appreciative reader delights in the unlikely... Read more
Published 2 months ago by L. Katz
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont Bother!!!
I must of missed something with this book! Found it very hard to follow & read.
Wish I had of taken my first instinct and stopped reading it earlier!! Read more
Published 2 months ago by WENDYM
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nowhere near his best work, but fabulous fun nonetheless.
Published 2 months ago by Kevin R. Hamrick
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More About the Author

Thomas Pynchon was born in 1937. His books include The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Vineland, and Mason & Dixon.

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