1 Tahrcountry Musings: Novelist Thomas Pynchon shows that science and art can mesh beautifully

Friday, September 20, 2013

Novelist Thomas Pynchon shows that science and art can mesh beautifully

Novelist Thomas Pynchon, in his latest book Bleeding Edge (Penguin) underlines the fact that science and art can mesh with mutually beneficial results. There are few novelists who can claim to successfully unite the two cultures, but Pynchon does it with panache. Pynchon turns to science and engineering as sources of imagery and symbolism
The novel centres on Maxine Tarnow, a mother of two boys and self-described "paid up member of Yentas with Attitude,”. Maxine runs a fraud investigation business called "Tail 'Em and Nail 'Em’. She gets deeply involved in the investigation of a computer-security firm called Hashlingerz. The mysterious techno geek CEO of the firm seems to rake in lot of unaccountable money. The  investigation of Maxine leads her deeper and deeper into the Internet underworld, to a Second Life-like "deep Web" world called DeepArcher, then on to a mysterious underground bunker in Montauk, a drug-smuggling boat on the Hudson, and lot of other places  in Manhattan. Meanwhile September 11 is round the corner and Hashlingerz's activities points to some kind of connection to terrorist groups.
The book is beautifully written and is receiving rave reviews.
 Here is a sample of the description of uptown Manhattan in the rain: “What might only be a simple point on the workday cycle . . . becomes a million pedestrian dramas, each one charged with mystery, more intense than high-barometer daylight can ever allow. Everything changes. There’s that clean, rained-on smell. The traffic noise gets liquefied. Reflections from the street into the windows of city buses fill the bus interiors with unreadable 3-D images, as surface unaccountably transforms to volume. Average pushy Manhattan schmucks crowding the sidewalks also pick up some depth, some purpose — they smile, they slow down, even with a cellular phone stuck in their ear they are more apt to be singing to somebody than yakking. Some are observed taking houseplants for walks in the rain. Even the lightest umbrella-to-umbrella contact can be erotic.”

Read an excellent review that appeared in Nature HERE

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