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Bleeding Edge: A Novel Paperback – August 26, 2014
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***A New York Times Notable Book of 2013***
“Brilliantly written… a joy to read…Full of verbal sass and pizzazz, as well as conspiracies within conspiracies, Bleeding Edge is totally gonzo, totally wonderful. It really is good to have Thomas Pynchon around, doing what he does best.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“A precious freak of a novel, glinting rich and strange, like a black pearl from an oyster unfathomable by any other diver into our eternal souls. 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, ever since it went to bed early on innocent Sept. 10 with a copy of The Corrections and stayed up well past midnight reading Franzen into the wee hours of his novel’s publication day.” —Slate.com
“Are you ready for Thomas (Screaming Comes Across the Sky) Pynchon on the subject of September 11, 2001?... 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. Pynchon himself’s a good companion, full of real affection for his people and places, even as he lampoons them for suffering the postmodern condition of being only partly real.” —Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review
“Surely now Pynchon must be in line for the Nobel Prize?... Thomas Pynchon, America’s greatest novelist, has written the greatest novel about the most significant events in his country’s 21st century history. It is unequivocally a masterpiece.” —The Scotsman (UK)
“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… As usual, Pynchon doesn’t provide answers but teases us with the hint of closure, leaving us ultimately unsure whether the signals add up to a master plot or merely a series of sinister and unfortunate events. The overall effect is one of amused frustration, of dying to find that one extra piece of information that will help make sense of this overwhelming and vaguely threatening world. It feels a lot like life.” —Wired magazine
“The New York of late 2001 was a Pynchon novel waiting to happen, in which the failures of ‘late capitalist’ speculation, in the form of the recently deflated tech bubble, meet 9/11 to form the 21st century’s Year Zero.” —New York Observer
“Pynchon's prose is irresistible. It's playful and bustling — cheesy puns rub elbows with Big Ideas. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
“Brilliant and wonderful… Bleeding Edge chronicles the birth of the now — our terrorism-obsessed, NSA-everywhere, smartphone Panopticon zeitgeist — in the crash of the towers. It connects the dots, the packets, the pixels. We are all part of this story. We are all characters in Pynchon’s mad world. Bleeding Edge is a novel about geeks, the Internet, New York and 9/11. It is funny, sad, paranoid and lyrical. It was difficult to put down. I want to read it again.” —Salon.com
“Bleeding Edge may be the book Thomas Pynchon was born to write.” —New York Daily News, “Page Views”
“Bleeding Edge takes the messy, funny, and sad all-at-once world we live in and reflects it back to us in a way that I can only call consoling—somebody else out there gets it. No matter how crazy things became in this book, I felt safe as long as I was inside its pages. So of course as soon as I finished it, I started over again.” —Malcolm Jones, Daily Beast/Newsweek
“The ingeniously whimsical, accessible story of a New York City fraud investigator who becomes entangled with some very sketchy characters as she tries to get to the bottom of a case involving a tech billionaire.” —O: The Oprah Magazine
“Showstopping…The future that [Pynchon] so precociously, disturbingly foresaw long ago now surges around us. With Bleeding Edge, he shows that he has mastered the move from the shock of the new to the shock of the now, while cushioning the blow.” —Leisl Schillinger, Barnes & Noble
“Bleeding Edge is vintage Pynchon, a louche yarn of rollicking doomism. Pynchon is the master of technology-as-metaphor. In previous books—particularly “V.” and “Gravity’s Rainbow”—there is a persistent, shadowy suggestion of an unseen system, mechanisms that underlie the perceived reality of events. And these mechanisms are often manifest in the vagaries of things like rocket science and radio broadcasting tools. In those old books, however, the obscure schema was cast as an almost magical or mystical force, but as Bleeding Edge appears, we have the real thing.”—Seattle Times
“Fabulously entertaining … Bleeding Edge is stuffed with gorgeous passages that sing their longing for all we’ve lost, in trashing the land and ourselves. But such writing is also a stirring call to arms, making clear that the history we’ll make depends on what and how we remember. As Pynchon has been reminding us for 50 years, there’s always more than one way to tell that story.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge is a masterpiece of post- and pre-9/11 paranoia.”—Las Vegas Weekly
"A hilarious, shrewd, and disquieting metaphysical mystery." —Booklist (STARRED)
"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… Bleeding Edge is a chamber symphony in P major, so generous of invention it sometimes sprawls, yet so sharp it ultimately pierces.” —Publishers Weekly
"A much-anticipated return, and it’s trademark stuff: a blend of existential angst, goofy humor and broad-sweeping bad vibes." —Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)
"Truly your most important reading for the fall... darkly hilarious." —Library Journal
About the Author
Thomas Pynchon is the author of V.; The Crying of Lot 49; Gravity’s Rainbow; Slow Learner, a collection of short stories; Vineland; Mason & Dixon; Against the Day; and, most recently, Inherent Vice. He received the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974.
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Bleeding Edge is quite up to Pynchon's best work, but it's still a wonderful read, with shadowy government operatives, narcissistic housewives, and ultra-cool hipsters and techies galore. If it tries a little too hard to capture an era with every sentence, and wanders from time to time, so what? The language is beautiful, the ideas are big and it'll probably make you think more than any 10 other novels you've read this year.
Referencing everything from the Montauk Project (an allegedly secret government program involving aliens and time-travel), to mid-eastern money laundering, Pynchon has created a world where nothing is as it seems and there's no place to hide, pretty ironic given that Pynchon himself is such a shadowy elusive figure.
One word of warning -- don't put this book down while you're in the middle of it for any length of time or you're likely to be totally lost when you pick it back up. Pynchon, as usual, demands one's full attention.
With lashing of that goofy, hip humour seen running throughout Inherent Vice (and who else is breathlessly awaiting Paul Thomas Anderson's film version?), the skewed retelling of history seen in Mason Dixon, and the "don't look over your shoulder I think we're being followed" feel of Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon takes off from the events surrounding 9/11 to wander the stratosphere of our collective human experience.
Bleeding Edge is provoking, funny, irreverent, and above all emphatic. And that's why it works. From nervous Jewish mothers, computer geeks, California new age savants to Russian gunsels, you find yourself relating to one of the most varied cast of characters to be found anywhere.
So don't overthink it. Just settle back and enjoy this madcap tour of one man's fin de siècle funhouse.
It seems Reg has crossed paths with a computer-security firm downtown called "hashlingerz" run by CEO Gabriel Ice a boy billionaire who walked away rich and unscathed from the dotcom implosion in the last quarter of the 20th Century. Maxi is used to going below the surface of businesses in her investigations of fraud using computer spread sheets. But, she does not know how deep fraud can be until she gets mixed up with the Internet prophet Gabriel Ice. He has power like the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in his policing of the characters that hang out in the bleeding edge of cyberspace. This is a strange gray area (like outer territories on map programs) that gamers and other computer geeks enter and use to drop clandestine links like sign posts for fellow players. Maxi explores hashlingerz to see if Ice's intentions are good, bad, or beyond moral positioning.
Maxine is not as pure as the driven snow even though she is a responsible woman who takes good care of her children, has good friends, and allows visits to her apartment and emotional connections with her family and ex-husband, Horst. Investigating fraud requires the use of some techniques that are not only legally questionable but actually are over the edge of the law. Caught and burned in the past, Maxi has lost her Certified Fraud Examiner's license. A moral individual in her social life, she must break the rules sometimes during her work on cases.
The novel follows Maxine Tarnow as she looks into Gabriel Ice's operations meeting many quirky denizens of the bleeding edge of the Internet. Carrying a small caliber handgun, Maxi is well aware of the dangers she and her family are exposed to when she moves around NYC and gathers information from human and electronic sources.
I was reading along one day on my iPad using my Kindle program when Maxi was randomly clicking on visible pixels in the gray display of the bleeding edge looking for clues. After changing her dimensional view of her screen to reveal links, she clicked on a minute star-like image. I felt a mental click that took me to a section of Pynchon's earlier novel, Against the Day. Suddenly, I was in one of the vector fields embedded in that novel - a connection between the content of two novels in my mind as unconscious as the release of repressed memories. Gabriel Ice's hashlingerz technology could gain control of an unlimited number of vectors (characters) in more than one area of the bleeding edge (novels) at a level unknown to most readers via calculus (software) predictions based on surreptitious observations. Talk about the invasion of personal space and mind control by government and linked private agencies, Mr. Pynchon shows us there are no moral edges for the real but unknown leaders of the social world embedded in cyberspace. Conspiracy theories (JFK, 911, NYSE, ICE) take on whole new meanings in Bleeding Edge (and Against the Day). I give this new novel my highest recommendation to readers.