“”Strange, I’m not expecting anything, you must have me mixed up with some other lowlife again.” Except Marvin has an uncanny history of always showing up with items Maxine knows she didn’t order but which prove each time to be exactly what she needs” (Pynchon, Bleeding Edge p. 107).
Near the end of chapter 10 of Thomas Pynchin’s novel Bleeding Edge, the reader is introduced to a character called “Marvin the kozmonaut,” a bike-riding deliveryman for kozmo.com, another now-defunct website. He arrives at Maxine’s door and delivers a flash drive, which ends up containing information on Nicholas Windust, a character who had only just been introduced earlier in the chapter. This seems to be the first time Maxine has seen Marvin in the weeks since the website’s failure, as she questions him on why he is still wearing his company outfit.
Maxine insists that Marvin is mistaken in delivering a package to her. Her dialogue seems at least partially derogatory, as she uses the word “lowlife” to describe Marvin’s customers. Her words, however, are most likely made in jest, as she herself is included in this category. She suggests that she’s been “mixed up with some other lowlife;” note the use of the word “other.” Much of Maxine’s dialogue is sarcastic and snarky, and her quote here is no exception to this attitude. In reality, Maxine has a friendly relationship with Marvin and later admits that she’s missed him.
Even as Maxine denies Marvin’s delivery, the narration steps in to tell a different story: that Marvin has a track record of always somehow having what Maxine needs. Here it’s a flash drive containing important data on a suspicious character, and later on Marvin delivers a tape that gives Maxine a new lead and even an out-of-production ice cream flavor that Horst happens to be craving at the time. There is a reason Pynchon describes Marvin’s history as “uncanny.” In fact, in a novel grounded in realism, global politics, and technology, Marvin seems out of place, almost supernatural. He has an easy-going attitude and only pops in exactly when he’s needed, serving solely as a deus ex machina character. Otherwise, he isn’t even mentioned and seems not even to exist. Although Maxine speculates on where the flash drive came from, Marvin’s methods remain a mystery. He doesn’t appear to have any employers, now that Kozmo.com has folded, but continues to operate, delivering items and even refusing Maxine’s payment. He refers to himself as “the Flyin Dutchmahn” in reference to the legendary ghost ship and insists that he “can ride forever.” Even the name of his former website of work, Kozmo.com, of which he still bears the logo, can be considered (as Maxine points out) a short form and stylization of the word “cosmonaut.” Thus, Marvin is associated with outer space as well as supernatural entities. Whether his name is a reference to the Looney Tunes character Marvin the Martian is not addressed in the novel, but it would not be surprising if it were so.
What is on the surface a case of “I didn’t order this” in fact serves to establish the history of a character in Maxine’s life that may be Pynchon’s equivalent of a supernatural element. Marvin is not explicitly an alien or a ghost, but he is no doubt “uncanny.”