Apropos of last week’s post on the worst DeLillo, I was pointed to this somewhat tongue-in-cheek ranking of DeLillo’s books.
So here’s my take on their take:
1) Kinda ballsy to put The Names in the “classics” category. White Noise and Libra are kind of easy picks for the “classics,” and I’m not sure that Libra qualifies (though it did drive George Will into a fit of pissy rage, and that deserves credit). (Also check out that new Penguin Classics White Noise package w/the Powers intro. Didn’t notice that one when it came out . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Lately I’ve been pushing Cesar Aira on people, which means I’m having a lot of conversations these days about how Americans don’t respect short novels. They’re insubstantial. They offend our sense of value, always measured by the gross poundage we get per dollar. Let’s just go ahead and say it: they feel European, like one of those pathetic little smart cars.
Cesar Aira seems almost designed to refute these culturally wired reactions against the short novel. Yes, his novels can be read quickly, but they’re so intricately crafted and clever in their ambiguity that any good reader will . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Was reminded of this today, from DeLillo’s 1972 novel End Zone. People forget how hilarious DeLillo used to be:
“Gary, I like flair. I like freak appeal .I like any kind of charisma. When I was an access coordinator for the phone company, I got together a specialty act in my spare time. Two sword-swallowers on a trampoline. You got to daze people. You got to climb inside their mouth. Gary, I’ll stick up for you all the way. Next season we make it big. The T and G backfield. I sure do like the sound of that. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
One thing I’ve been noticing about the reviews of Point Omega is that just about everyone is calling the book extremely dense. To wit, from the latest review I’ve read:
I’m not a slow reader, not usually, especially not with regard to fiction, but it took me ages to finish Don DeLillo’s slim new novel Point Omega. It is a short, intense burst of literary fireworks by a living master,
This does seem very in keeping with DeLillo’s writing after Underworld. It’s almost as though he wanted to get this last burst of profusion out of his system . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Looks like we’re starting to see the deluge of Point Omega reviews. Here’s Marcus’s at the Barnes & Noble Review:
This is the territory that Don DeLillo has been working in since the terrorist attacks on New York City in 2001 — in Cosmopolis in 2003, Falling Man in 2007, and in the new Point Omega. What state of mind, DeLillo has been asking, might a cataclysmic, shared event — the sort of event that immediately produces its own, where-were-you language, a language that then turns into a dynamic new form of speech or is forgotten — . . . continue reading, and add your comments
A character from multiple DeLillo novels, has written a critique of Wallace’s work. The author is Jay Murray Siskind, probably best-known as the professor in White Noise:
Anyone familiar with White Noise should recognize the clues that the supposed reviewer is DeLillo’s character and not some real live scholar with the same name: there’s the fictional Blacksmith College (which, while not the college portrayed in White Noise, is a name of one of the neighboring towns); there are the fake footnotes in the review referring to other characters and details from . . . continue reading, and add your comments
James Wood interviewed in the Kenyon Review.
I then began to think of Smith’s novel in relation to a number of other large books: Underworld by Don DeLillo, Pynchon’s recent book Mason and Dixon, David Foster Wallace’s large book Infinite Jest, and so on. Was there some kind of genre here in which the cartoonish was displacing the real? In which the machinery of plot was also blocking out in some way a greater simplicity? I also thought perhaps there was an interesting borrowing from Dickens: It seems to me that if you look at a book . . . continue reading, and add your comments
When Sam Tanenhaus came on board as editor the New York Times Book Review, word was that nonfiction would take the lion’s share of the coverage. Two years later, if anyone doubts that Tanenhaus is giving short shrift to fiction, the recently published list of the best works of American fiction in the last 25 years should change their mind. This is a list that–with the resources and influence of The New York Times–could have been awesome. Instead what we have is a list that shows signs of poor planning, and that ultimately is uninteresting.
Thus far, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
From a good feature on Don DeLillo’s White Noise at PopMatters.
One of the funniest scenes occurs in the beginning of the book when Jack and Babette are in the grocery store (a location a lot of the book takes place in). Out of the blue, DeLillo alerts us to a woman who falls into a rack of paperbacks at the front of the store. It’s just something that happens in the background while Jack and Babette are shopping, but the weird depiction is dropped into the narrative so suddenly, you can’t help but bust up. You . . . continue reading, and add your comments
#2 — Underworld — Don DeLillo
Underworld is a book that sifts through 50 years of Cold War America and ends up proving that a Cold War-less America is a rudderless America. However, if Underworld were simply a polemic with no greater point than teaching this lesson, it would have been made obsolete by 9/11 and no one, other than professional historians, would care much about reading it.
This is not the case for many reasons, but I’d like to focus on just three.
First off, in its structure and feel, Underworld captures something essential about the . . . continue reading, and add your comments