PE Check123 Difference between revisions of "Chapter 1" - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Bleeding Edge

Difference between revisions of "Chapter 1"

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'''"Help Me Rhonda"'''<br />
'''"Help Me Rhonda"'''<br />
1965 song by the Beach Boys. Pynchon reportedly recommended that Jules Siegel listen to the Beach Boys' ''Pet Sounds'', as recounted in Siegel's article, "Who is Thomas Pynchon, and Why Did He Take Off With My Wife" (1977). Pynchon mentions "Help Me Rhonda" and two other Beach Boys hits in ''Inherent Vice''. []
1965 song by the Beach Boys. [ Pynchon reportedly recommended] that Jules Siegel listen to the Beach Boys' ''Pet Sounds'', as recounted in Siegel's article, "Who is Thomas Pynchon, and Why Did He Take Off With My Wife" (1977). Pynchon mentions "Help Me Rhonda" and two other Beach Boys hits in ''Inherent Vice''. []
{{Bleeding Edge PbP}}
{{Bleeding Edge PbP}}

Revision as of 14:16, 17 September 2013

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

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"Bleeding Edge" has a number of meanings. See Bleeding Edge Title. The phrase first appears on pg. 78 — "What's known as bleeding-edge technology. [...] No proven use, high risk, something only early-adoption addicts feel comfortable with."


The cover photograph is of a server farm. I found it here. It's entitled "Server Farm at Night." Note how the image also evokes the World Trade Center, and the cover of Pynchon's V. ...

More info at Bleeding Edge cover analysis

Book jacket description

Pynchon likely wrote the copy for the book jacket description of Bleeding Edge and he likely did the same for Inherent Vice.


Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 – December 31, 2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction or other genres. He was a three-time Edgar Award winner, one of only three writers (the others are Joe Gores and William L. DeAndrea) to win Edgars in three different categories (1968, Best Novel, God Save the Mark; 1990, Best Short Story, "Too Many Crooks"; 1991, Best Motion Picture Screenplay, The Grifters). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honor bestowed by the society. More on Wikipedia

Title Page

Flatiron Building
The title page feature a photograph of the Flatiron Building, a skyscraper in NYC. "The neighborhood around it is called the Flatiron District after its signature building, which has become an icon of New York City." Wikipedia


Like Inherent Vice and Against the Day, Bleeding Edge has no dedication. Pynchon dedicated three of his earlier novels to friends and family: Mason & Dixon ("For Melanie, and for Jackson"), Vineland ("For my mother and father"), and Gravity's Rainbow ("For Richard Fariña").

Page 1

"the first day of spring, 2001"
three instances of beginnings: the first day, of spring (the season of beginning and renewal), of the new millennium.

"though some still have her in their system"
the novel's first sentence invokes the topic of personal data held in various databases or systems.

"walking her boys to school"
This scene -- a parent walking children to school in the Upper West Side of New York City -- is, more than any of Pynchon's novels, evocative of what is reported of Pynchon's biography.

This could be an early hint that the novel has a more autobiographical element than any of his previous works? Benvolio (talk)
Callery pear trees blooming in NYC, Creative Commons licensed photo from here

Callery Pear trees
Planted extensively in NYC due to its fast-growing nature and tolerance of pollution and other extreme conditions. Central Park Conservancy Their blooming is a first sign of spring.

Much has been written on how Callery trees smell like semen. E.g., article

she drifts into a pick
A "pick" is a basketball term. It refers to an offensive player blocking a defensive player.

Page 2

a term meaning those homeless who sleep in such places as doorways and lobbies. "The word unhoused refers to that segment of a homeless community who do not have ordinary lawful access to buildings in which to sleep, as referred to in the HUD [United States Department of Housing and Urban Development] definition as persons occupying "place not designed for ... sleeping accommodation for human beings." "Wikipedia

Razor scooters
a popular brand of scooter, but note how the word "razor" echoes/evokes the title, Bleeding Edge.

Otto Kugelblitz
German, "ball lightning". The Kugelblitz was also the name of a tank in WWII. Wikipedia

Many references to Germany, German words, names and German history run throughout Pynchon's oeuvre, to the point where Pynchon scholar David Cowart posits that "Pynchon seems to have had a German period, a post-German period, and a neo-Continental or global period. During his German phase he produced his first three novels... His next work, the long-awaited Vineland, represents a new phase in which the almost obsessive attention to German more seems to have faded." Thomas Pynchon and the Dark Passages of History (2012), at p. 59. Benvolio (talk)
A character name Skip the sentient ball lightning appears in Against the Day. [1]

on a cross street Law & Order has so far managed not to film on
Law & Order was the longest running crime drama on TV. It ran for 20 seasons and filmed its episodes on the streets of New York City. Of course, this adds to building sense of paranoia and fear in this opening description.

Berggasse 19
The address in Vienna where Freud lived. It is now the site of the Sigmund Freud Museum.

Page 3

"Maxi, hi?"
Vyrva speaks in uptalk, or phrasing statements like questions, a linguistic characteristic found (among other places) in Southern California, especially among so-called "Valley girls". Wikipedia

Page 4

antennas for the unspoken
Cf, a letter by Pynchon: "Given the British genius for coded utterance, this could all be about something else entirely, impossible on this side of the ocean to appreciate in any nuanced way..." Source

Page 6

the gates of Danbury
a federal prison. Wikipedia

Crazy Eddie
American electronics store famous for its radio and TV ads in the 60s and 70s, featuring the slogan, "his prices are insane". The T-shirt in question was designed by, of all people, Robert Crumb. The TV ads featured New York disc jockey Jerry Carroll as the pitchman. Wikipedia

Crazy Eddie T-Shirt, designed by the legendary Robert Crumb

Page 7

as Britney always sez
"Oops! I Did It Again" was a huge pop hit in 2000 for Britney Spears.

"Help Me Rhonda"
1965 song by the Beach Boys. Pynchon reportedly recommended that Jules Siegel listen to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, as recounted in Siegel's article, "Who is Thomas Pynchon, and Why Did He Take Off With My Wife" (1977). Pynchon mentions "Help Me Rhonda" and two other Beach Boys hits in Inherent Vice. [2]

Chapter 1
pp. 1-7
Chapter 2
pp. 8-19
Chapter 3
pp. 20-29
Chapter 4
pp. 30-40
Chapter 5
pp. 41-52
Chapter 6
pp. 53-67
Chapter 7
pp. 68-79
Chapter 8
pp. 80-86
Chapter 9
pp. 87-95
Chapter 10
pp. 96-111
Chapter 11
pp. 112-120
Chapter 12
pp. 121-133
Chapter 13
pp. 134-144
Chapter 14
pp. 145-159
Chapter 15
pp. 160-171
Chapter 16
pp. 172-184
Chapter 17
pp. 185-197
Chapter 18
pp. 198-210
Chapter 19
pp. 211-218
Chapter 20
pp. 219-229
Chapter 21
pp. 230-238
Chapter 22
pp. 239-246
Chapter 23
pp. 247-255
Chapter 24
pp. 256-264
Chapter 25
pp. 265-273
Chapter 26
pp. 274-287
Chapter 27
pp. 288-300
Chapter 28
pp. 301-313
Chapter 29
pp. 314-326
Chapter 30
pp. 327-337
Chapter 31
pp. 338-346
Chapter 32
pp. 347-353
Chapter 33
pp. 354-364
Chapter 34
pp. 365-382
Chapter 35
pp. 383-394
Chapter 36
pp. 395-407
Chapter 37
pp. 408-422
Chapter 38
pp. 423-438
Chapter 39
pp. 439-447
Chapter 40
pp. 448-462
Chapter 41
pp. 463-477
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