Tag Archives: Thomas Pynchon

Party Like it’s 1999 with Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge”

With the first Thomas Pynchon novel I’ve read (“The calling of lot 49”) I discovered a new dimension of literature. Language, characters, atmosphere – the main parts of each novel – have been developed by Pynchon to the extent that you can read the book once for the sake of language, then for the sake of the characters and finally for the sake of the atmosphere. I felt so impressed that when I was talking about this book, I had to mention each of these parts individually so I could express clear my thoughts. Some academic people call it postmodernism or post-post-modernism. For me it was a new way to read a novel.

However, what I’d like to talk about now is “Bleeding Edge” – the latest novel Pynchon wrote and the second books from him that I read. I must admit that it is quite strange to read a historical novel for a period that happened 16 years ago – when I was 10 years old.

The historical period that “The Bleeding Edge” is set in is an era that is filled with events that I still have vivid memories of. One of them is 9/11. Just like American remembered what he had done on the day that Kennedy was assassinated, so today every man on the planet remembers the day he saw the video on the television with the twin towers collapsing. However, “The Bleeding Edge” depicts even bigger picture than the one I remember on the news of this terrible moment.

The novel begins on a spring day in New York in 2001 and first introduces the reader to the reality of the “bursting of the dot-com balloon.”

Times of great idealism carry equal chances for greater corruptibility.

The economic shock is conveyed through the personal stories of the characters. As a reader who loves to learn new details about our modern history, this novel quickly grabbed my attention. Thomas Pynchon describes the reality before the Bursting and after. This masterful separation between these two eras in history is supported with the skillful use of words and phrases within one sentence, that are conveying the point of view of the characters and the narrator.

I must admit that at first the narrative felt annoying, since I am definitely a reader who has experience mostly with traditional novels and not so much with modern experiments. But after dozens of pages the narrative started to help me understand better what is going on. I started feeling like some kind of a finder, who searches and investigates the events that happen in the historical time period of the novel.

The main character of “The Bleeding Edge,” Maxine, is the next best aspect of the novel. Extremely charming, smart, fun, badass, femme fatal, paranoid, intuitive. A dozen of other weird and likeable characters gravitate around her. All of the characters are described with a very detail oriented style. Probably this kind of writing style helps the reader feel more like a direct observer of the events unfolding in the novel. I believe so, because the story is filled with weird moments when something completely unexpected happens and I started doubting the rationality of what I read.

Time travel, as it turns out, is not for civilian tourists, you don’t just climb into a machine, you have to do it from the inside out, with your mind and body, and navigating Time is an unforgiving discipline. It requires years of pain, hard labor, and loss, and there is no redemption–of, or from, anything

In these moments I felt like I had to choose whether to trust the author and swallow my doubts or to drop the book. A book that convinces you to turn down your own beliefs and take the extremely weird and unusual as a version of reality is the one you expect to justify your trust in the next moment. And this one did it for me – each chapter gave me more than the previous one and moved me forward.

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