Reviews for Bleeding Edge


Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
*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. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #1
Pynchon (Inherent Vice, 2009, etc.) makes a much-anticipated return, and it's trademark stuff: a blend of existential angst, goofy humor and broad-sweeping bad vibes. Paranoia, that operative word in Pynchon's world ever since Gravity's Rainbow (1973), is what one of his characters here calls "the garlic in life's kitchen." Well, there's paranoia aplenty to be had in Pynchon's sautÚ pan, served up in the dark era of the 9/11 attack, the dot-com meltdown and the Patriot Act. Maxine Tarnow is, on the face of it, just another working mom in the city, but in reality, after she's packed her kids' lunches and delivered them at school, she's ferreting around with data cowboys and code monkeys, looking into various sorts of electronic fraud. Her estranged husband, apparently a decent enough sort, "to this day has enjoyed a nearly error-free history of knowing how certain commodities around the world will behave," but Maxine has a keen sense of how data flows and from whom to whom. One track she follows leads to a genius billionaire and electronic concoctions that can scarcely be believed--but also, in a customarily loopy way, to organized crime, terrorism, big data and the U.S. government, with the implication, as Horst later will ponder, that all are bound up in the collapse of the Twin Towers. ("Remember the week before this happened, all those put options on United and American Airlines? Which turned out to be exactly the two airlines that got hijacked?") If you were sitting in a plane next to someone muttering about such things, you might ask to change seats, but Pynchon has long managed to blend his particularly bleak view of latter-day humankind with a tolerant ability to find true humor in our foibles. If he's sometimes heavy-handed, he's also attuned precisely to the zeitgeist, drawing in references to Pabst Blue Ribbon longnecks, Mamma Mia, the Diamondbacks/Yankees World Series, Office Space, and the touching belief of young Zuckerbergs in the age before Zuckerberg that their bleeding-edge technology--"[n]o proven use, high risk, something only early-adoption addicts feel comfortable with"--will somehow be put to good use rather than, as Pynchon assures us, to the most evil applications. Of a piece with Pynchon's recent work--not quite a classic Ó 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. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #1

Once again, Pynchon delivers an extraordinary sense of the zeitgeist. As the book opens, Maxine Tarnow--sort of separated from staid Horst--gets her sons off to school in an artfully rendered Upper West Side directly before 9/11. A fraud investigator who's lost her license, which makes for scuzzy clients but lets her pack a Beretta, Maxine is on the case when filmmaker friend Reg contacts her about his suspicions regarding hashslingrz, the computer security firm he's been asked to document. Maxine's investigations lead her to hashslingrz monomaniac Gabriel Ice; Igor, a Russian mafioso with a conscience; and two rap-spouting sidekicks named Misha and Grisha; government agent Windust, a murderer and torturer with whom Maxine exchanges information and a carnal moment; and many more. Then there's friend Vyrva, whose husband has helped create the virtual escape site DeepArcher, emblem of the turn-of-the-21st-century techno-angst, -greed, and -possibility that is the book's thematic context. VERDICT A theory is voiced here about CIA involvement in 9/11 to get funding from anti-Islamic sources. But 9/11 is not ultimately the point. Nor is Maxine's page-turning, occasionally dense, high art-low art mystery trail. What matters is the creation of a time, a place, and authentic, deeply connected characters, all heightened by Pynchon's darkly hilarious way with language and located on the "bleeding edge" as the world changed. [See Prepub Alert, 5/6/13.]--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

[Page 103]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
A friend's request sends fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow deep into the world of techno-angst and -greed just before the Twin Towers fall. This is not a 9/11 novel, however, but the evocation of a time, a place, and authentic, deeply connected characters, all heightened by Pynchon's darkly hilarious language and ┬Člocated on the "bleeding edge" just before the world changed. (LJ 9/1/13)--BH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 August #3

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.

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

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.

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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