I’ve been a hesitant fan of Thomas Pynchon since 2005, when I met a beautiful and way-smarter-than-me German woman in Prague taking a literature class with me in Charles University graduate school. She was talking to me about how hard “A Gravity’s Rainbow”by Pynchon was to understand and she seemed frustrated enough about it to make me curious if I could impress her by reading it.
So, I bought an English language copy at a local Prague bookstore and started reading it. I didn’t actually finish it before heading home to America that semester because A) I had so much damn reading for my other classes and B) it was hard to read. Actually, the hardest thing I had ever read up until then.
Reading Pynchon isn’t for everyone. He’s won a National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow and his level of writing is said by some to be on level with greats such as James Joyce (who I’ve never tackled). It took me about 6 months to get through, bit-by-bit “A Gravity’s Rainbow” once I committed to it and it took the same amount of time this year for me to read “Bleeding Edge.”
Considering that Thomas Pynchon is in his 70’s’s I was very surprised at how well he was able to encapsulate the early 2000’s where “Bleeding Edge” takes place. Also, the fact that he’s not a tech entrepreneur in any way that I know of is impressive because he really does get some nuanced bits of information about what it’s like to work in the information and tech based businesses. I can vet some of that just from my own experience working in tech throughout my career.
When reading Pynchon, I’m always cautious to critique him too harshly because I sometimes feel what he’s writing about and how he’s writing about it might just be over my head. Then again, I probably don’t give myself enough credit. “Bleeding Edge” does an interesting job of writing about a complex world of international embezzlement, 9/11 culture in the early 2000’s and the tech bubble of the time. I haven’t really read much around that time that felt appropriate and accurate, but this book does a good job.
I’d say that this book isn’t Pynchon’s greatest work. “A Gravity’s Rainbow” still is. “Inherent Vice” was a ton of fun to read too. “Bleeding Edge” wasn’t so much fun as some of his other books.
I might have to read it again, but as of now, I’d judge “Bleeding Edge” as a B- effort from Pynchon. I’ll be interested to look up some other reviews on the internet as I haven’t read any other opinions on it before writing this.
I hope Pynchon has another good novel in him at least. We’ll see. We’ve been lucky to have what he’s given us so far. I’ll keep reading what he rights in attempt to expand my mind and hopefully impressive the next impossibly smart women I meet at a pretentious cocktail party.