Thomas Pynchon, the most infamous reclusive American author not named J.D. Salinger, on Tuesday released what’s being called his “9/11 book,” Bleeding Edge.
The novel begins not with a screaming across the sky, but with a prosaic and ominous statement-of-the-obvious: “It’s the first day of spring 2001.”
It follows Maxine Tarnow as she spends “nice mornings” in 2001 working as an independent fraud investigator. Pynchon recreates the lost world of New York City in the months before 9/11, a time when complaints about militarism centered around Rudy Giuliani’s aggressive attempts to clean up the city:
Giuliani and his developer friends have swept the place Disneyfied and sterile — the melancholy bars, the cholesterol and fat dispensaries and porno theaters have been torn down or renovated, the unkempt and unhoused and unspoken-for have been pushed out, no more dope dealers, no more pimps or three-card monte artists, not even kids playing hooky at the old pinball arcades — all gone.
Pynchon is best known for his difficult, postmodernist novel Gravity’s Rainbow, which was selected by the Pulitzer Prize jury as the winner of the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but whose content prompted the Pulitzer board to reject it.
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Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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