Pynchon never fails to confound even polarize. You either adore his outings or profoundly struggle to understand his importance. Bleeding Edge is a vast, multi tentacled muddy meander that does not subscribe to normal plot structure. One reviewer stated it could be three hundred pages less or just go on. It is an aimless journey that should not be read by the anal. Instead it should be treated as a rambling dialogue that with frequency throws off cool, thought-provoking bits worthy of collection.
For me this included the comparison of the twin Buddhas destroyed in Afghanistan by The Taliban and the Twin Towers. Pynchon is 76 years old and he throws out consistently intriguing and accurate pop culture references from the dotcom era and 9/11. This is important for his command of the era and the hint at nostalgia for a largely pre-terrorism world. The man can write too as evidenced by these lines:
- “The past, hey no s***, it's an open invitation to wine abuse.”
- “Culture attracts the worst impulses of the moneyed, it has no honor, it begs to be suburbanized and corrupted.”
- “Nostalgia lurks, ready to ooze from ambush.”
Overall the plot struggles to sell us on a horrible conspiracy, “After the 11 September attack," March editorializes one morning, "amid all that chaos and confusion, a hole quietly opened up in American history, a vacuum of accountability, into which assets human and financial begin to vanish. Back in the days of hippie simplicity, people liked to blame 'the CIA' or 'a secret rogue operation.' But this is a new enemy, unnamable, locatable on no organization chart or budget line--who knows, maybe even the CIA's scared of them.”
Most readers and reviewers have focused on technology being the conspiracy. They assume Pynchon sees the bad in progress. I believe that the author has little faith in people themselves. In one powerful and bitter swipe he addresses civility and commercialism in one fell swoop, “Everybody out on the sidewalk is a pedestrian Mercedes, wallowing in entitlement—colliding, snarling, shoving ahead without even the hollow-to-begin-with local euphemism “Excuse me.” At another point he writes, “Same old Satanic pact, only more of it.” For me the pact or conflict relates to human behaviour and its failings.
Slate Magazine's podcast, The Audio Book Club, has a lively discussion covering this book. What was interesting was the three reviewers confusing simultaneous defence and attack of the work. I feel for them as I am divided as well thus the weak three star review. I can neither recommend or dissuade. There are incredible bon mots inside a struggle of a novel so it is up to you to decided if this is an attractive proposition.
- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (1 October 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099590360
- ISBN-13: 978-0099590361
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 422 g
- Customer Reviews: 261 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 234,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)