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Publisher's Summary

Thomas Pynchon brings us to New York in the early days of the Internet. It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left.

Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics - carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts - without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom - two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood - till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.

With occasional excursions into the Deep Web and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the Internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we've journeyed to since.

Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?

Hey. Who wants to know?

©2013 Thomas Pynchon (P)2013 Penguin Audio

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  • Robert
  • Castro Valley, CA, United States
  • 09-18-13

A fine wine in a dirty and cracked glass

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Ever since V in 1963 Thomas Pynchon has written superb novels and Bleeding Edge does not disappoint in anyway. He spins a dazzling web of a plot populated with engaging characters and conveying a powerful message for our times. An excellent read

How could the performance have been better?

Its hard to imagine a worse selection of narrator than this. She was presented with excellent material to perform but delivers it in a croaking monotone with no discernible sensitivity for timing or inflection rendering a fine novel almost unbearable. Its hard to understand how this performance escaped the studio. This narration made me buy my first hard copy novel for years.

69 of 72 people found this review helpful

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Genuinely unlistenable

What didn’t you like about Jeannie Berlin’s performance?

Well, obviously, I didn't read the reviews before downloading this...and, I still haven't read the book, so those ratings are purely notional. (Though I will certainly read it, having read all Pynchon's other novels.) All I can say is that, after 15 minutes, I decided that the reader was utterly insufferable. Not only have I never heard a book read this badly, I never imagined a book could be read so badly. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Listen to the sample before buying!

Full disclaimer: I'm a bit of a Pynchon fanboy. That being said, if you're considering Bleeding Edge, check out the sample. If you can handle the narration, and you're familiar with the author, you will love Bleeding Edge. It's got everything Pynchon fans like, but in a more subdued, dare I say "mature" way?

It's about the Internet. It's about 9/11. It's about what it means to be real and alive. It's full of conspiracy and obscure hacker (Yes, Thomas, I remember anon.penet.fi and own an earlier edition of ORA's Perl 5) and pop culture references from the noughties. However, I didn't find the references stifling and forced (unlike the 80's references in Ready Player One. Then again, I did admit I'm a bit biased).

Like any good fanboy, I picked up the audiobook and printed book on the publication date. I love the book but just can't get into the audiobook. Granted, reading Pynchon is a daunting task. Any reader would have trouble really nailing puns in Russian or hitting every German joke, but Jeannie really made it sound -exceptionally- difficult.

I really wouldn't bother with the audiobook, but the book's so good I encourage curious shoppers to check out the sample. Maybe it's just me!

If you've never read Pynchon before, I emphatically suggest skipping this audiobook as an introduction. There's too much in the writing to love to be turned off by the reader!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Kyle
  • Saint Paul, MN, United States
  • 12-01-13

Narrator ruins this book

What didn’t you like about Jeannie Berlin’s performance?

I can tell the book is well written and funny, but out of the many, many audio books my wife and I have listened to we both agree the narrator is the worst we have heard -- almost unlistenable. Her voice is grating and very unpleasant. But even worse than that, she reads in a monotone, completely missing the normal cadences of speech and of the writing. It makes the sentences difficult to understand and makes most of the funny passages fall flat. I would certainly recommend reading this book and passing on this version.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Horrible reader makes book unlistenable.

What would have made Bleeding Edge better?

Any other reader. The reader is so bad that I cannot finish the first 2 hours. It is more than just distracting. I find myself ignoring the story because I cannot stand the readers voice, lack of intonation, and the total lack of continuity in the reading. She pauses in the middle of phrases and leaves the reader hanging.<br/><br/>Please redo this book. I bought the hard copy to read it as Pynchon is a master.. But the reader totally butchers this book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bleeding Edge?

I cannot remember being able to follow the story because the reading is so bad.

What didn’t you like about Jeannie Berlin’s performance?

EVERYTHING!. THe worst reader I have ever heard on audible.

Any additional comments?

Please redo this book. You owe it to Mr. Pynchon.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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horrible vocal performance

Would you try another book from Thomas Pynchon and/or Jeannie Berlin?

This narrator ruins the great new book by Thomas Pynchon. She sounds like a cross between the late talk-radio voice Lynn Samuels and Laugh-In's Ruth Buzzi. It doesn't sound like she's even read the material beforehand. It sounds like a grating, horrible COLD READING!!! Ugh!

What didn’t you like about Jeannie Berlin’s performance?

It was HORRIBLE.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Thomas Pynchon is America's great writer. Give him some voice talent. The guy who read INHERENT VICE isn't much better. Who is in charge of voice talent around here???

52 of 57 people found this review helpful

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Horrid narrator. Needs to be removed ASAP

I cannot understate how bad this reader is. I & a friend have been looking forward to this book for months and planned to listen to it together and discuss it but it is one of the worst narrations I have come across in my 27 years of listening to audiobooks on tape and Audible. There is no excuse for destroying a much anticipated work by a major author in this fashion. This needs to be redone ASAP. How could this get past the first day of recording without someone realizing how horrible it was and immediately getting someone new? We are both giving up on this after struggling through a couple hours. I cannot judge the story or the writing as it is intolerable to listen to her mangling of Pynchon's prose. If it would allow me to give Zero stars for performance I would but i tried and it won't. SAD.

45 of 50 people found this review helpful

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Jarring Narration

How did the narrator detract from the book?

From the first few sentences I was surprised at how amateurish the narration was. She is reading; not narrating. Her voice is grating. She misreads words (Silicone Valley vice Silicon Valley). I love Thomas Pynchon but it is going to be a long slog getting through 15 hours of Jeannie Berlin.

37 of 41 people found this review helpful

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A crushing disappointment

I know good readers are hard to find, but this is Pynchon ffs! I've been looking forward to this audiobook release for months. Very disappointing.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Truly Insufferable Narrator

Would you try another book from Thomas Pynchon and/or Jeannie Berlin?

Definitely Thomas Pynchon. Jeannie Berlin, never. Neverl

How could the performance have been better?

I cannot honestly understand why anyone would choose to have this narrator read a book.

Any additional comments?

Stopped listening after 15 minutes. Going to get a refund. There's no way to recommend 18 hours of listening to this voice.

33 of 37 people found this review helpful