Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

63%

19 Critic Reviews

It’s a shame Bleeding Edge isn’t a better book. Like a lot of Pynchon’s major recent efforts it’s messy and bloated. The plot may be deliberately incomprehensible, but this only makes it less involving.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

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***
 

About Thomas Pynchon

See more books from this 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 and Dixon, and, most recently, Against the Day. He received the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974.
 
Published September 17, 2013 by Penguin Books. 493 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 06 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Bleeding Edge
All: 19 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 10

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Aug 14 2013

Of a piece with Pynchon’s recent work—not quite a classic à la V. but in a class of its own—more tightly woven but no less madcap than Inherent Vice, and sure to the last that we live in a world of very odd shadows.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JONATHAN LETHEM on Sep 12 2013

Are you ready for Thomas (Screaming Comes Across the Sky) Pynchon on the subject of Sept. 11, 2001? On the one hand, his poetry of paranoia and his grasp of history’s surrealist passages make a perfect fit. Yet his slippery insouciance, his relentless japery, risk being tonally at odds with the subject.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Sep 10 2013

The result, disappointingly, is a scattershot work that is, by turns, entertaining and wearisome, energetic and hokey, delightfully evocative and cheaply sensational; dead-on in its conjuring of zeitgeist-y atmospherics, but often slow-footed and ham-handed in its orchestration of social details.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Talitha Stevenson on Sep 28 2013

No doubt a good genre book is worth more than a bad literary one any day, but when a writer with real genius squanders so much of his energy on clowning...it's worth asking what's going on. The idea that jokes are a defence against intimacy is a cliche – perhaps they can also be a defence against close reading.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Theo Tait on Sep 13 2013

While the whacked‑out conspiracy theories in The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon's most appealing and, not coincidentally, shortest novel) seem like charming period features, here they seem like Baby Boomer bullshit, of a rather tasteless kind.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Fran Hawthorne on Jan 06 2014

There’s a Jennifer Aniston impersonator...and an expert in fragrances who is obsessed with finding out what Hitler smelled like. In typical Pynchon fashion, these characters coincidentally keep connecting Maxine with exactly the person or information she needs to pursue one of her investigations—until she abandons that plotline anyway.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Aug 19 2013

The plot's dizzying profusion of murder suspects plays like something out of early Raymond Chandler, under whose bright star Bleeding Edge unmistakably unreels.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Sep 16 2013

The more directly Mr. Pynchon confronts true events, the more his themes and plotting lose their metaphoric resonance and seem instead like straw-man targets for a conspiratorial worldview...Mr. Pynchon's previous novels jolted us awake with nightmare visions; "Bleeding Edge" has lecturing AM-radio punditry. Talk about diminishing payoffs.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on Sep 17 2013

The book is alternately shticky and profound. Some of the time I wanted to live in its world, other times I found it unreadable. But much of the time I was satisfied to let the prose build and build around me.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on Sep 17 2013

After a while...I felt a little exhausted by the sheer volume of references to things I never thought I'd have to think about again, or to made-up things that, if they existed, I would never want to think about again either.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by David Wiley on Nov 05 2013

His prose is uproariously vibrant and compelling and is filled with relentless poetry and play, spouting outlandish neologisms and novel imagery at every turn.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Thomas Jones on Sep 13 2013

There’s plenty of space within the pattern for Pynchon’s trademark digressions (flashbacks interrupt flashbacks like a cascade of pop-up windows from a dodgy website), songs, terrible puns (while Pynchon’s novels are frequently very funny, his characters’ jokes are not), and some magnificent set pieces...

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by John Greenya on Dec 19 2013

In “Bleeding Edge,” as he tells his old-fashioned story within this most modern framework, he never fails to see signs of hope for mankind. No wonder this book was a finalist for this year’s National Book Award.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Sep 12 2013

...Pynchon has set this novel in his own territory. It is full of lived-in details of pizza parlors and bars and delis and where to get a turkey for Thanksgiving that could serve almost as a road map to the author himself.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Noah Cruickshank on Sep 16 2013

Bleeding Edge is too cynical to be a champion of domestic life, but it underscores that a parent’s love, no matter how qualified, can make all the difference.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Alex Good on Dec 30 2013

It’s a shame Bleeding Edge isn’t a better book. Like a lot of Pynchon’s major recent efforts it’s messy and bloated. The plot may be deliberately incomprehensible, but this only makes it less involving.

Read Full Review of Bleeding Edge | See more reviews from Toronto Star

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Alix Ohlin on Sep 20 2013

The recent-historical meets the timelessly paranoiac in Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Bleeding Edge. Baggy, pun-filled and consciously absurd, it’s an overflowing cabinet of literary curiosities: A black comedy, a noir thriller and a critique of capitalism in an Internet-dominated age.

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The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Sep 18 2013

Powerful, intricate, compelling; choose any superlative you like – chances are good that it will prove more than apt.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Alix Ohlin on Sep 20 2013

The plot does wrap up, but vaguely, with the satisfaction of a neat ending mostly withheld. Why shouldn’t it be? This is the story of our world, Pynchon might say, messy and mystifying, and we’re still living it.

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Reader Rating for Bleeding Edge
62%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 377 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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