Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

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Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: In 2001, Maxine Tarnow races through New York, attempting to uncover a fraud. Along the way, she meets various individuals, all of whom have issues and quirks, and some of whom keep being found dead. With that stakes high, Maxine is in a desperate race to the finish - all with the shadow of 9/11 hanging over her.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Vintage Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099590361

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Thomas Pynchon is a major American novelist. Published for 40 years, his books are always surprising and highly original, and the intense privacy of the author mean that they are often still a mystery when released.

Having read Bleeding Edge, I can confirm that it is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Maxine Tarnow is a great main character - a working mother separated from her husband, she is equal parts sassy to funny, and makes for a reliable companion along the way. Some of the other characters encountered along the way are truly bizarre - Conkling Speedwell probably the most prominent!

The plot moves at a rapid pace - both in terms of the characters' movements, and the dialogue. It certainly qualifies as a page turner, although I feel that I may have to read it again in order to fully understand what happens. There's a lot of humour, although some references are very specific to the American way of life and culture, and may be somewhat lost over here - they certainly were on me for the most part.

The problem with such a fast plot is that many characters are lost along the way - I often found myself turning back through the book in order to figure out who was speaking. Whilst the book races to a climax, I was left with the uneasy feeling that it hadn't been finished - I'm fine with a few ends being left untied, but there didn't seem to be any full stop to the book.

I've enjoyed several Pynchon books before, and I'm sure I will do again. This one again showed why he is a regarded as a funny and surprising writer, although I felt could have done with a tighter edit. In fact, I feel that this would have worked best as an audio drama or even a film, bringing more life to the characters, and allowing the events to unfold at a gentler pace.

Many thanks to Vintage Books for the copy

Inherent Vice is Pynchon's previous novel. This one worked for me more than Bleeding Edge - whilst still confusing, the thriller elements worked better, in my opinion.

For something equally mad, that takes in New York from the 70's to the future, along with various other places, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is well worth a read. Fun, clever and inventive, this look at music in America is well worth a read.

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