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Bleeding Edge

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  11,051 ratings  ·  1,451 reviews
Thomas Pynchon brings us to New York in the early days of the internet

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
Hardcover, 477 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Penguin Press (first published 2013)
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The first thing to know about Pynchon books is that they fall into two pretty distinct categories, with Gravity's Rainbow and Against the Day on one side—the side of sprawling epic, of insane depth of characterization and range of setting—these are books that you don't really read, you just dive on into, in all their jagged crazy bottomless mystery. I once said that reading Against the Day was less like reading a book than reading a chunk of a river, and I stand by that.

Then on the other side yo
Okay, here’s what I think: more women need to read this book. Looking over the reviews I note that most are from men who have read everything Pynchon has written. I hadn’t read anything by him (no, not even Gravity's Rainbow) and I thought the time was right for me to begin. He is considered a writer of great stature and I couldn’t remember why I ignored him.

This is a valentine to women. Even the title refers to women, in all its interpretations: The bloody edge of a knife held against the neck
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Real-ish Review

Dwell upon our memories, but there are no facts.

Mental note to self, next time you read a book but you can't post a review for a couple of months why don't you try writing the fucking review soon after you read the book, and not wait till the day before the book is to be published? Just a thought, stupid.

Whenever I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver. - attributed to Goering.

The re-occurrence of this line in the book for some reason sums up the book for me. I'm not sure
Violet wells
Along with Yellow Dog this gets my vote for the worst novel ever written by an author capable of genius in his prime. A characteristic it shares with Yellow Dog is that there’s a sense the author is refusing to grow up, that he’s still straining to be cool like some middle class teenager strewing his speech with street patois.

I’m baffled how anyone managed to find the emotional engagement to actually remember who the endless cacophony of stupidly named characters entering into each and every ch
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There've been a few novels written about the 11th September 2001 attacks – DeLillo's Falling Man and Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close come to mind – and most of them try to induce, not unreasonably, a visceral and immediate reaction to the tragedy. Pynchon has written about atrocities and tragedies before (most recently in Against the Day), but what's striking about Bleeding Edge is how determined Pynchon is to avoid talking about 9/11 in anything like the same terms. A ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jan 04, 2013 added it
Recommends it for: Pynchon
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Thomas

Me and Tome

I have a reputation on goodreads for being hyper-intelligent, indulging in reading difficult novels. It’s a reputation I like to nurture. It’s been many years of failure, in fact.

Back in college daze I was at the check-out desk of the smucker=jam/jelly library and this friend of mine comes in, fresh out of one of his English=major classes. This is one of those rare-birds on college campuses, an intellectual who actually gave a damn about getting an education beyond mere job=traini
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prose, 1970-present
Bleeding Edge begins after the dotcom crash and takes us through to a few months after the events of September 11. It is a portrait of New York during this period. A "lovably scruffy comedy of remarriage," as the Publishers' Weekly review calls it, and a really wonderful piece of urban literature, keenly detailing the visible and invisible environs of New York City and its psyche at that time. The back of the advance reading copy I got calls it a "historical romance." That too is accurate.

Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
“Culture attracts the worst impulses of the moneyed, it has no honor, it begs to be suburbanized and corrupted.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge



Pynchon could write the linear notes to an obscure hipster band and I would track that CD down and read it. At one level there is a certain amount of potential, sulfuric, fizzle genius that you can definitely smell but in this novel never quite explodes (gets expelled?). Pynchon is tracing and mapping the same subter
Mattia Ravasi
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: silver-keys
#1 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015:

An amazingly lucid and majestically heartbreaking elegia for the early-age of the Internet and the pre-9/11 world. Filled to the brim with action, humor, pop-culture references, and most importantly, with clever, honest, disinterested* reflections on the world we're all inhabiting since about 14 years. The most clever book on what the Internet means I have yet read, never too cynical, never too naive.
And that doesn't e
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mitch Hedberg Memorial Joke Introduction

I used to love Thomas Pynchon. I still do, but I used to, too.

"All Your Book Are Belong to Us"

"Bleeding Edge" is Thomas Pynchon's bid to escape the Falsche Freunde of American Post-modernism.

In it, he determinedly embraces plot as a framework within which to create a fiction of his own (not for him, submission to the tiresomely insistent demands of those "wised-up urban know-it-alls" who intermittently praise his work [when it appears to comply with their
Leonard Gaya
Bleeding Edge (2013) is Thomas Pynchon’s most recent novel. The action takes place in NYC, some twelve years before publication, around the traumatic time when the World Trade Center collapsed under terrorist attacks (although 9/11 only appears in the background). The story follows the investigations of Maxine, a fraud examiner and housewife, through a maze of illegal Internet and financial activities, linked to Middle-Eastern and Russian connections, all steered by a mysterious magnate called G ...more
(This review was originally written for and posted at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography's site. I paid for and preordered this book back in March? April?, which was months before I knew I'd be writing for CCLaP.)

It is all too easy to dismiss Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel as another one for the "Pynchon Lite" pile, which is by no means fair to a book that can't help counting the likes of such heavyweights (both in the literary and literal senses) as Against the Day, Mason & D
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: samizdat
My friends and I created our online reading group samizdat in the summer of 1999. Our first selection was Gravity's Rainbow and we've made a number of efforts since then to recreate that cherry high. Those distant days of yahoo and dial up are recreated in Bleeding Edge, though most of its characters play with a heavier set of clubs. The Kabbalic notion of a deep web where the eschatological becomes, well, virtual is hardly a new idea. Pynchon drapes it all in a noir apparatus with a crime scene ...more
Arthur Graham
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
"That was the moment, Maxi. Not when 'everything changed.' When everything was revealed. No grand Zen illumination, but a rush of blackness and death. Showing us exactly what we've become, what we've been all the time."
"And what we've always been is . . . ?"
"Is living on borrowed time. Getting away cheap. Never caring about who's paying for it, who's starving somewhere else all jammed together so we can have cheap food, a house, a yard in the burbs . . . planetwide, more and more every day, t
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are some really fabulous reviews of this book by some of our common GR friends, and so I’ll simply (and gladly) defer any future readers to those; I will just make one brief point, which seems to have been missed by other readers, but which I think is quite certain and obvious about this book.

There is a lot of fabulous writing here, but (as others have certainly noted) also a lot (too much, for my taste, frankly) of monkeying-around. This can get kind of tedious – and so the book gets a lo
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
and late capitalism dissolves/(d?)evolves into messy virtualworld complete with pynchonian paranoia, truther conspiracies, ADHD hyper-prose, forgettable characters, a pun a minute, convoluted pomo-chandlerian plot 5 steps ahead of a (probably intentionally) passive lead heroine. disappointing.
A parable of reading. Protagonist is a fallen CFE, with her “skill set being a tendency to look for hidden patterns” (22), which is the sole necessary skill for reading a Pynchon novel. We have met the protagonist, and found that she is us.

Principal text that CFE reads is work product of a film bootlegger, whose poor hand-recordings in the theatre are taken to be “leading edge [NB] of this post-postmodern art form” with “neo-Brechtian subversion of the diegesis” (9). We should take this comment
Michael Finocchiaro
I loved this book to be honest. The idea of an old white WASP like Pynchon choosing a 40 year old single Jewish mother as a badass protagonist was great. The plot was quite topical (deep web and conspiracy) and yet believable. Ice was a great bad guy, the minor characters including the love interest were fun and interesting. But mostly, I loved the fully fleshed out heroin and her moral code adjusting to changing circumstances and priorities as the story advanced.
Eddie Watkins
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
Not Pynchon lite! Not heavy either. More like Pynchon pot-bellied but taut. What at first struck me as a slackness in the prose, became over time and into a second reading an intentional casual naturalness. Casual and natural because speech (and thought) based. This is Pynchon the pal, exuding kookily aloof warmth, while still insightfully penetrating into sociopolitical machinations. Warm because he loves Maxine, the adorable mid-aged mule who carries his (admittedly borderline schematic at tim ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Don't expect an astute review comparing this to any other Pynchon novels. This was the first one of his I've completed. Perhaps I'm not "ready" to read him yet - or maybe, rather, Pynchon was not ready to write a book like this?

Although it seems to be part of his "schtick", Pynchon's jivey, wisecracking voice grew tiresome to wade through. The narrative was punctuated with moments of true beauty - describing passengers you glimpse in an opposite train as a tarot card draw, and the geeks' cotill
Justin Evans
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Everyone's favorite parlor game for BE is to decide whether it's major, minor, or minor-major Pynchon, except that nobody can even decide what other books go in which slots, let alone where this one falls.

Another fun game is to decide whether this is a 'now' book, or a 'then' book, with the temptation being to say that his late-twentieth-century books are minor (with the exception of V., which doesn't count).

And finally there's the all time punk classic parlor game of complaining that Ilikehis
Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge

Intoxicated scene transitions, characters with no real depth that simply pop up without proper introduction, ironic humor that can make people bleed, conspiracies in the heart of a New York that shyly starts to show its cyber face right before the Collapse, and a plot that doesn’t really lead anywhere but serves as the launcher of bombs aimed at our minds. Not my cup of tea exactly. Rather my bottle of gin.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
The other day we were talking about the Awkward Role of Technology in Fiction: tech talk tends to sound instantly dated and embarrassing. Bleeding Edge takes place in 2001 as the tech bubble was bursting, and it's a prime example of that problem. Pynchon actually does have a pretty good handle on the state of the internet in 2001 - I say this as someone who was right in the middle of that - but it still doesn't really work. A lot of scenes remind me of Gibson's trippy descriptions of hacking in ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Everything must come to an end, and this includes my journey through Pynchon's novels, which wrapped up just a few minutes ago. Yes, there's still Slow Learner: Early Stories, but it isn't as though I'm expecting the whole world from that, you know? So I can now say, with a certain bittersweet pride, that I've finished every Pynchon novel, at least until he gets around to the next one.

My opinion on Bleeding Edge? It's good! Better than Inherent Vice, which was fun but, like Vineland before it,
Chad Malkamaki
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This last Pynchon novel takes everyone for a typical Pynchonesque adventure through the streets of New York in the spring of 2001 through the 9/11 attacks, and ends the next spring. A financial detective searches the underbelly of the digital age dealing with the recent dot com bubble burst, shady internet developers, and other assorted characters that only Pynchon could create. Not on the same level as V, or Gravity's Rainbow, but another strange trip from a master that only releases a book eve ...more
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
2001? The dotcom bubble? Bursting? I thought I could handle it? After about fifty pages I was about to pull the plug. Did I really think I was hip enough? Edgy? Naturally not, but I decided to stick around, employing a skill set acquired while reading Ulysses and trying to read Finnegans Wake—full torpedoes ahead and damn it all. Pynchon's prose batters you from all points, tumbling you in its wake of digressions, its undertow of sheer incomprehensibility, in which you can only hope to absorb by ...more
W.D. Clarke
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not even gonna try. Here's Jonathan Lethem instead:

...the sheer vitality and fascination, the plummets into beauty and horror, the unique flashes of galactic epiphany, in Pynchon’s method. 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
Aaron Arnold
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2013
A staggering weight comes across the shelf. It has happened before, but at this point in his career there are quite a few masterpieces to compare it to now. As America's greatest living novelist, each book he releases feels like it should be a bombshell, ever-escalating shocks of genius radiating out for as far as there's literary terrain left to expose to new light. Bleeding Edge, which is unquestionably a great novel, funny and moving and as clever as any number of competitors put together, is ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
We didn’t know it at the time, but Dickens’ phrase, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” could be applied to the period of time following the dot-com bust and preceding 9/11. This novel is an exploration of life in New York City about six months prior to 9/11 and then about six months after. It's a reminder of how that moment of disillusionment caused by the evaporation of the dot-com dream suddenly turned into the innocent golden age of the past once 9/11 occurred.

The book is
Aiden Heavilin
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was born in January of 2001, which is frustrating, because it means I don’t remember anything about what the world was like before 9/11, a world I lived in for 11 forgotten months. The other day online I stumbled across a rather beautifully written elegy for the America that existed before 9/11, varying parts incisive commentary and rose-tinted nostalgia. He spoke of a different attitude concerning strangers and safety and airports and foreign cultures, an innocence lost somewhere in the smoke ...more
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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American writer based in New York City, noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known today: V. (1963 ...more

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