Friday, September 6, 2013

Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, reviewed. - Slate Magazine

Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, reviewed. - Slate Magazine:

'This is of great interest, as The Other Most Important American Novelist, Thomas Pynchon, has added his comic paranoid spin to the 9-11 attack. Bleeding Edge, reviewed by  Slate writer Troy Patterson in a a prose style that is ,well , ejaculative, sounds like a dense, comic masterpiece in a minor key. Powerful historical forces interest Pynchon greatly, but no more than does small things that get caught  up in the galvanizing events of change.

Patterson's best phrase about Pynchon's fiction-- V, Gravity's Rainbow, Crying of Lot 49,--is the presentation of history as farce; while Invisible Forces and conspiracies unconscious of their own existence gather, mingle , galvanize and alter the fates of nation, Pynchon concentrates on the regular Joes and Jessicas in the streets, in the cafes, at their workaday jobs, trying to make do and contend with their own comparatively picayune disasters and passions. Whatever grand , destructive, epoch changing things that take place outside the doors of where they live or work are merely the contents of a weather report--rain, snow, earthquake, V2 raid or terrorist attack, everyone adapts their plans and coping techniques and continues as they need to, as they must. 

Don DeLillo,  the writer who shares with Pynchon my Most Important American Novelist assignation, wrote his 9-11 novel, Fallen Man, which seemed, sorry to say, a bit tired; the mixture of odd, random elements from the culture , as translated by television and internet, contrasted , continually against a cast of emotionally neutered characters trying to reconstruct their sense of  autonomy following the horrible events, does not convey the implied irony DeLillo has a master at . 

Loss as been a larger part of DeLillo's writing, the center of his magnificent poetic style, but following the sustained genius of  his masterpiece Underworld--the secret history of the second half of the American Century-- the further extrapolation of the subject on an event of such horrific violence that what is inexpressible eludes DeLillo, who is usually a man who can create a sense of  moods that otherwise defy language to  contain their essence.

 Short as it is, Fallen Man plodded with heavy feet. Pynchon, from the sound of Patterson's review, makes it sound as if the reclusive author contained and converted the energy  of  the hysterical response and decided to laugh, the joke being that despite the blows to our lives, our cities, our metaphysics of order and purpose and our rational attempts to reconcile horror against Grand Designs and Great Agendas, life, being life, goes on, it goes on. Pynchon finds the fact that the smartest among us don't get this and the activities we create in response to disaster is , at heart, a comedy. I look forward to reading this.

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