Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge is a wild messy book, a riot of puns and silly-sinister event and place names and odd and odderball people up to half or no good, all bunched together on the island of Manhattan, whose most active, vibrant, inquisitive, and gutsy citizen is one Maxine Tarnow, fraud investigator, a single-ish mother of two and an NYC native, a pioneer woman of the 1990s, wise and alert and armed (when she remembers) with a Beretta.
Bleeding Edge starts in spring 2001–we all know what’s coming in late summer–and Maxine finds herself up to her eyebrows in just about every bit of shenanigans New York can throw her way. Like a pair of her Pynchon-predecessors–Oedipa Maas and Frenesi Gates–Maxine is smart and resourceful and caught up in events she can’t walk away from, curious to a fault, wary but never afraid of the dark ends of an unknown passage, alert to the mental fortitude of whomever she is chatting up for information or propulsion to the next level of her excellent adventure.
So what is Bleeding Edge all about? Trails, conspiracies, connections–lots of connections, all leading up to the fateful day. But it’s mostly about Maxine, her fortitude, her empathy and desires, her flighty friendships and strange attractions. And Bleeding Edge is about Pynchon and his brand of relentless fun, which makes a reader guffaw and grin, as the turning and twisting of the plot and prose never stops, never hesitates, never lets up.
Pynchon’s a genius, smart and wicked funny, probably the best at the ‘writes novels for a living’ racket. Bleeding Edge came out in 2013, fifty years after V., his debut, and if this is how he ends his run, well done.