Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We're on the edge of...something...computers? Yes! That's it!

Book: Bleeding Edge
Author: Thomas Pynchon
Published: 2013 (Penguin)
Pages: 477

Not quite entirely 100% sure of what I read here, but Pynchon does have a way of melding neo-noir smartassery with modern pop culture references that illuminates both without getting too stylized in either direction.

 Basic plot: a PI who's had to go private because of various shenanigans in the past that got her license pulled takes a job of investigating the shady dealings of some tech company that's either right on the brink of the next big thing or about to steal it.

 I'll be honest. I don't know which side won. I couldn't distinguish between the sides very well not because the digital morality stayed slippery and changed with every new piece of information learned - that was the good part. I enjoyed that. - but because most of her human sources were indistinguishable from each other since they were shady tech dudes who always knew more than they should and were always meeting her in cafes (how many meals can one eat out in one day? The answer in New York seems to be 5,984, plus brunch on the weekends). I lost track because she already seemed to know everyone and everything enough to not need a whole lot of distinguishing details, even on first time.

 But somehow that didn't make my reading experience any less enjoyable. I don't want to call this a purely stylistic enjoyment, because that makes the style seems more unusual and the story seem more shallow than either actually are, but something was  making me miss the full narrative implications without taking anything away.

 And there were a lot of details that I did pick up on and that were distinctly, clearly important and ran through the threads of the characters - like the P.I. is a mom who's dealing with letting her two boys become independent while also fighting her own heightened paranoia about how much extra danger her job puts them in. And her friend is the wife of one of the guys she's investigating, and the friend is an ex-hippie who's still trying to square her ideals with what her husband has turned into a business. And the P.I.'s ex husband is still hanging around for no real reason and she resents him for being able to take her boys to more fun than she can show them but also appreciates the extra help and doesn't really mind having her ex around but... it's complicated, you guys, okay? so she just shrugs and lets him eat their Ben & Jerry's until he says he has to be getting back.

 The main character is practical and easy-going until what she loves is threatened, and then she tries to keep the same calm and carry on so nobody freaks out while she's trying to fix things. It's a very human combination and a good way to ride through somebody's head for 400+ pages.

 This one's going back to the library, and I have to say that it hasn't done its job because I wanted to use it to decide whether to tackle Gravity's Rainbow and I still don't know. I SHALL JUST HAVE TO READ MORE TO DECIDE. OH DARN.

 What I baked and ate during this: I got a massive craving for something mint chocolate and so put together this pan of Cousin of Swamp Thing mint chocolate swirl cheesecake brownie and hacked massive hunks off of it for about a week or so. It was okay but a little too cream-cheesey for my taste. But I totally still ate all of it.

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