Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge


The Wikipedia article on Thomas Pynchon describes is work as dense, complex, post-modern/high modern, and as an example of hysterical realism. I suppose it is all that, and more, and actually quite funny. I had a hard time with the book in the beginning, the language, the topic-related lingo, the density of it, until I got to a laugh-out-loud-funny part and my husband said: “You’re not sure you like this book, huh?”

I will not try to summarize the plot. Basically, the book is set in 2001, starting 6 months before 9/11 and ending about six months after that infamous date. The main character is Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator who is somewhat separated from her husband and how has two young boys. She stumbles into a fraud investigation that seem to have some aspects of a spy story, leading to some kind of conspiraticy to the 9/11 attack.

For a really good summary and amazing review, check out Michael Chabon review in The New York Review of Books,

Given the length and complexity of the book, I decided to start re-reading it by only looking at the first sentence of each chapter. Funny how this brings back memories. Although, mind you, that pizza line was not much help. I won’t subject you to the full forty-some chapter, but here’s a sample.

Chapter 1

It’s the first day of spring 2001, and Maxine Tarnow, though some still have her in their system as Loeffler, is walking her boys to school.

Chapter 2

Couple of years in fact.

Chapter 3

The past, hey no shit, it’s an open invitation to wine abuse.

Chapter 4

Late that afternoon Maxine has an appointment with her emotherapist, who happens to share with Horst an appreciation of silence as one of the worlds unpriceable commodities, though maybe not in the same way.

Chapter 5

As a paid-up member of the Yentas With Attitude local, Maxine has been snooping diligently into hashslingrz, before long finding herself wondering what Reg has gotten himself into and, worse, what he’s dragging her uncomfortably toward.

Chapter 6

Pizza for supper.

Chapter 7

Maxine finally gets over to Vyrva’s one evening to have a look at the widely coveted yet ill-defined DeepArcher application, bringing along Otis, who disappears immediately with Fiona in her room, where along with the Beanie Baby overpop she keeps at Melanie’s Mall, with which Otis has become strangely intrigued, Melanie herself is a half-scale Barbie with a gold credit card she uses for clothes, makeup, hairstyling, and other necessities, though the secret identity Otis and Fiona have given her is a bit darker and requires some quick costume changes.

Huhhh? Confused by the complex sentence structure of the last chapter opener? I’m sure you are not the only one.

Given long, complex, dense novels don’t scare me, I am very much likely to given other Pynchon novels a try. I already have The Crying of Lot 49 on my Kobo.



Pynchon, Thomas, Bleeding Edge, Penguin, 2013.

Jonathan Lethem review:

Talitha Stevenson review:





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