Synopses & Reviews
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 theres no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of whats 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 ethicscarry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into peoples bank accountswithout having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working momtwo 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 neighborhoodtill 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 Hitlers 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 DeepWeb 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 weve 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?
"Pynchon's new novel captures the time after the dotcom bubble burst and before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator and mother of two living on Manhattan's Upper West Side, begins to look into a big-time computer security firm and its billionaire CEO. As one might expect from a Pynchon novel, Tarnow's investigation plunges her into a chaotic world that involves hackers, bloggers, mobsters, commodities traders, as well as the various men that occupy Tarnow's life. Jeannie Berlin, who is set to appear in the upcoming film adaptation of Pynchon's Inherent Vice, narrates this slick audio production. While she boasts a crotchety, sardonic tone that works for some of Pynchon's characters, she lacks the vocal variety to convincingly portray the author's complicated world in its entirety. Although her approach is perfect at times, when the novel delves into the early years of the Internet, Berlin sounds strangely out of place. A Penguin hardcover. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Thomas Pynchon is the author of V.; The Crying of Lot 49; Gravity's Rainbow; Slow Learner, a collection of short stories; Vineland; Mason and Dixon; Against the Day; and, most recently, Inherent Vice. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.