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Longlisted for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dotcom 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 licence 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 mum - 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 neighbourhood - 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 Deep Web and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channelling 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?
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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. - Scotsman
It’s dense, complex and riotously, ridiculously funny. - Esquire
The looming shadow of 9/11 touches every page. Nonetheless, many of those pages are outrageously funny, others are sexy, touchingly domestic, satirical or deeply mysterious. All are brilliantly written in Pynchon’s characteristically revved-up, even slightly over-revved style – a joy to read… Swarms with amazing characters… 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. - Washington Post
Bleeding Edge, Pynchon’s eighth novel, is the best and most surprising thing he’s written since those great books… The jokes in this novel, incidentally, are superb, with the comic tone perhaps a career high point. - Telegraph
Part thriller, part detective story, it’s a vibrant portrait of a city on the cusp of change. - Sunday Telegraph
[Pynchon’s] eighth novel is something of a return to form, and could well be his best since his comeback… Offers a winning heroine, scintillating screwball dialogue and a typical host of weird, zany or depraved characters, this time corralled into a tighter-than-usual plot. - Sunday Times
Entropic in its plottery and joyously paranoid in its world view… My advice: read it, but don’t try to follow it. It’ll make you giddy. - The Times
There’s plenty of space within the pattern for Pynchon’s trademark digressions…songs, terrible puns…and some magnificent set pieces. - Financial Times
Though Bleeding Edge doesn’t stint on leftish theorizing about far-right misdeeds, it also gives the sense that for the first time Pynchon is looking at things from a very great height, as a battle between toy soldiers. - New Statesman
The new novel by the reclusive Pynchon is set in New York in 2001 and follows a fraud investigator who takes on more than she bargains for when she checks out a billionaire internet tycoon. - Mail on Sunday
[Pynchon’s] working towards a sort of metaphysics of our accelerated, encrypted world; he’s positing that once you reach a certain bandwidth, classical notions of space and time, and even maybe the unitary indivisible soul, break down. - Literary Review
Routinely extraordinary but also wonderfully funny, regularly gripping and, whisper it, engaging… - Herald
Beneath the constant wordplay and manic invention there’s serious intent; the intensity of Pynchon’s prose can be a demanding slog but stay the course and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. - Metro
Pynchon has a particular gift for apprehending a scene, for conveying the resonance of objects and understanding their role in our lives. - Prospect
The narrative voice of Bleeding Edge is warmer: it’s omniscient and at times essayistic but more often casual, chatty and in the present tense. Pynchon has an almost fatherly fondness for his characters… He takes an obvious pleasure in the game: in his gags and obscurities, in storytelling, and in chronicling the wasted days and nights of a scene that flickered for a few years and then burned out. - London Review of Books
Bleeding Edge is an elegiac yet compulsively readable novel. The humour crackles, eliciting chuckles on almost every page. No one works magic with words like Pynchon, and here he is at the height of his powers, by turns gripping, thought-provoking, inventive, touching and poetic, not to mention warmly human. - Nature
Pynchon makes interesting observations about life, there are lovely twists of lyricism throughout, the dialogue is punchy and believable, the jokes are funny. - Irish Independent
Maxine is a fraud investigator and mother of two in pre-9/11 Manhattan, but a peek into the books of a tech billionaire uncovers – this is a Pynchon novel after all – a vast conspiracy. - Time
But the big surprise of Bleeding Edge is how tender it is. The novel makes an appeal for the survival of innocence in a hostile world. Pynchon wants to find a way out of paranoia and conspiracy, even as he forces the reader deeper into them… The novel really feels like the work of a writer coming to terms with the world. And while he may not like much of what he finds out there, he wants there to be a place for innocence somewhere. As everything falls apart, there's a real yearning in Bleeding Edge for at least some things to hang together. - Standpoint
Enormous fun… Deserves a place alongside Pynchon’s finest works. - Independent on Sunday
Pynchon’s latest novel is a historical romance set in during the internet’s infancy in the spring of 2001. - Vogue
Bleeding Edge is a romp. On full display are Pynchon’s trademark linguistic and imaginative acrobatics… It may sound frivolous but an emotional maturity counterpoints the silly songs, deliberately bad puns, and pop-cultural references - Irish Examiner
When he’s in his hardboiled vein, [Pynchon] writes the most entertaining dialogue in any year. - Guardian
Pynchon's best novel since Mason & Dixon, an exhilarating shaggy-dog private-detective story that punctured its own garrulous charm with sharp stabs of betrayal and threat. Astonishing, too, that that a 76-year-old should produce a novel with such wild and slangy bounce. - Telegraph
Pynchon at his most hilarious, it gave way to more sombre realities involving a suspicious Silicon Alley tech company and its possible links to international terrorism and who knows what else. - Uncut
Suspenseful and darkly humorous. - Times Literary Supplement
Intriguing, and probably the most straightforwardly readable of his books. - Herald
A thrilling ride through the first tech bubble, filled with 'bleeding edge' technology... Accomplished, funny and digressive. - Financial Times
Pynchon's take on the attack on the Twin Towers. Will he reject the conspiracy theories of the 'truthers' or spin some new conspiracies of his own? I think the answer is both. But I wouldn't swear to it. - Scotsman
· Pynchon delivered a piece of typically raggedy brilliance with Bleeding Edge. - Scotsman
Engrossing, hilarious and shocking. - Guardian
Pynchon’s high-energy writing crackles with dark wit and foreboding - Mail on Sunday
Playful and paranoid New York noir - New Statesman
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 and Dixon, Against the Day and, most recently, Inherent Vice. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.