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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.