In the closing pages of Bleeding Edge, perspectives alter; all that had been in the forefront of the readerly consciousness moves strangely to the background, and ideas and experiences hitherto shift to the forefront. And all this happens in a way that few of us associate with Pynchon. It is customary to say of him that his characters are not “real,” that his intellectual pyrotechnics and metafictional games are arid, emotionally empty. This is a misreading, I think, though perhaps an understandable one: those pyrotechnics, that ceaseless jokiness, the ridiculous names (of which there are fewer in Bleeding Edge than any other Pynchon book), do tend to create a smokescreen. But from Oedipa Maas’s late intuition of a world either saturated with or utterly evacuated of meaning, to the desperate wartime love-making of Roger and Jessica in Gravity’s Rainbow, to the love of Zoyd Wheeler for his daughter Prairie in Vineland, to the warmth and depth of the friendship between Mason and Dixon in the novel that bears their names, there is more genuine depth of feeling in Pynchon’s fiction than is often acknowledged. But in Bleeding Edge he confronts more openly and directly than he ever has the power of ordinary human love.