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1. White Noise: (Classics Deluxe
2. Point Omega: A Novel
3. The Names
4. Underworld
5. Falling Man: A Novel
6. Americana (Contemporary American
7. End Zone
8. Running Dog
9. Great Jones Street (Contemporary
10. Mao II: A Novel
11. Libra (Contemporary American Fiction)
12. White Noise: Text and Criticism
13. Players
14. Cosmopolis: A Novel
15. The Body Artist: A Novel
16. Approaches to Teaching Delillo's
17. Ratner's Star
18. Underwords: Perspectives on Don
19. The Day Room.
20. Pafko at the Wall: A Novella

1. White Noise: (Classics Deluxe Edition) (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editio)
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-12-29)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143105981
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of one of the most iconic novels of our time-now in a dazzling graphic package

Winner of the National Book Award, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra­modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an "airborne toxic event," a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the "white noise" engulfing the Gladneys-radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings-pulsing with life, yet suggesting something ominous.

Amazon.com Review
Better than any book I can think of, White Noisecaptures the particular strangeness of life in a time where humankindhas finally learned enough to kill itself. Naturally, it's a terriblyfunny book, and the prose is as beautiful as a sunset through aparticulate-filled sky. Nice-guy narrator Jack Gladney teaches HitlerStudies at a small college. His wife may be taking a drug that removesfear, and one day a nearby chemical plant accidentally releases acloud of gas that may be poisonous. Writing before Bhopal and Prozacentered the popular lexicon, DeLillo produced a work so closely tunedinto its time that it tells the future. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (297)

2-0 out of 5 stars Long winded, dialog heavy
A long long meditation on death. If you like to hear professors droning on about their obsession with death, without being particularly witty or profound, read this. Delillo tries so hard to be deeply insightful about the nature of human obsession with death, that his characters just end up sounding stilted, pompous, and frankly, ridiculous. Sure there are some great moments and characters- like Heinrich, or Denise, but none of them gets enough screen time. The Airborne toxic event is squashed into a few rushed chapters, and even though the book isn't trying to be a disaster thriller, there was so much potential in the moments in the barracks, all wasted.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best of Contemporary American Literature
This is the book I send people to when they ask me about Don Delillo. It is every page funny, intelligent, witty, cutting, scary, and so, so true. White Noise may be the best American Literature of the past 50 years has to offer.

5-0 out of 5 stars White Noise
I ordered two new copies of "White Noise," and that is exactly what I received.I was surprised how quickly I received them.

Thank you.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Kindle experience at a rip-off price
DeLillo is one of the greatest American fiction writers, and "White Noise" is a magnificent novel. But don't buy the Kindle edition, which will completely destroy your reading experience. For some reason, the text loads to the device with a line space between every single paragraph.

That's right. A line space between every single paragraph. Like this.

And that means there's also a line space between every line of dialogue, even if a character speaks only a couple of words.

The result is so disorienting, and such an insult to the author, that I bought the physical book (not from Amazon, I might add). If you love literature, throw away your Kindle and buy real books from real bookstores. At $13 plus shipping, Kindle downloads aren't even a bargain any more.

5-0 out of 5 stars DeLillo Strikes again
_White Noise_ is Don DeLillo's most commonly read work for good reason. The text presents a curious and compelling mix of intellectual inquiry and humor. Indeed, the novel serves well as a primer on most things postmodern. ... Read more

2. Point Omega: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2010-02-02)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$3.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439169950
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
DON DELILLO HAS BEEN "WEIRDLY PROPHETIC about twenty-first-century America" (The New York Times Book Review). In his earlier novels, he has written about conspiracy theory, the Cold War and global terrorism. Now, in Point Omega, he looks into the mind and heart of a "defense intellectual," one of the men involved in the management of the country's war machine.

Richard Elster was a scholar -- an outsider -- when he was called to a meeting with government war planners, asked to apply "ideas and principles to such matters as troop deployment and counterinsurgency."

We see Elster at the end of his service. He has retreated to the desert, "somewhere south of nowhere," in search of space and geologic time. There he is joined by a filmmaker, Jim Finley, intent on documenting his experience. Finley wants to persuade Elster to make a one-take film, Elster its single character -- "Just a man and a wall."

Weeks later, Elster's daughter Jessica visits -- an "otherworldly" woman from New York, who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. The three of them talk, train their binoculars on the landscape and build an odd, tender intimacy, something like a family. Then a devastating event throws everything into question.

In this compact and powerful novel, it is finally a lingering human mystery that haunts the landscape of desert and mind. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

3-0 out of 5 stars Point Omega
DeLillo's novels keep getting shorter and shorter.As always, his prose is excellent and he always causes you to think.Although, in this case it is not always clear what you are thoughtful about.

In most fiction the author sets up an environment and creates a protagonist to act within it.I've always felt that DeLillo instead wrote about how the environment acts upon the protagonist.In this case, the environment includes other people.

The physical environment has acted upon the "wiser" and more philosophical older man.Both the physical environment and the older man act up the younger man.The arrival of the young woman acts upon both and then (we won't give it away here) we learn that blood is thicker than all of your philosophies.

I think I'll begin rereading DeLillo at a clip of one per year.I've read most - I believe I missed Ratner's Star.My personal favorite has always been The Names.For fans, you don't need this review because you're going to read the book anyway.For others, start somewhere else, earlier in his impressive canon.

2-0 out of 5 stars It's Very Dry....Bring a Drink
I tried to understand this book, it was difficult.There was an arid setting, dry, empty characters and no plot. The book consists of two stories-I use the word, stories, loosely. First and last chapter is one story.It takes place in a museum where a very slow Hitchcock film plays out on-screen and a man stands against the wall and makes deep comments.....The other story is set in the desert with an old man, a younger film-maker, the old man's daughter and of course, the desert.It was a painful, slow, dull, boring read...it wouldn't even make good film noir.

5-0 out of 5 stars Desert "Unconsciousness"
This novella had immense meaning for me. Living myself in the severe isolation of the desert, it hammmered the mindlessness that develops, the struggle for consciousness, if you will, against an ageless and eternal backdrop.
Behind my house stands a strange and elusive monolith of pure granite, a billion years old, over which the sun rises each morning, that might make you believe you were living in the early stages of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". In fact, you might think at any time that an "apeman" carrying a club was going to stumble on your property (I don't mean a "golfer".) Delillo here, I think, captures what Sartre discusses in "Being and Nothingness". Nature is a mass up against which human consciousness is dwarfed as ephemeral and fleeting. There really is no meaning in Nature to the thoughts or words of men, and I'm afraid we have forgotten that this unique characteristic of humanity "knowing the other" is incredibly beautiful, but limited and, alas, probably headed for a massive transformation that might indeed be called "extinction", at least in the way we have known it. It takes little thought to understand that the complete vanishing of "Jessica" is simply the most concrete way of presenting this. This, being set up against a World of upheaval, the planning of a War, the meeting of strange men in a solitary room, all beckons the reader to understand that Elster has "given up" on consciousness and his own humanity. Elster, like Nietsche, has begun to believe "that consciousness is a disease". With Consciousness gone, time in now out of sync. There is no future, but only an endless and eternal "now", the single glimpse of an eyeball or a bird's feather at each moment as in the "Psycho" scenes. Do we remember the past? Can there be a future? These are some of the incredible "moments" built into the fabulous prose of Delillo's sometimes frightening, but always fascinating, novella.

4-0 out of 5 stars Short on the Funny But a Good One
Ever since I read White Noise, I've been hoping for another book from Delillo that is as funny and insightful. This one isn't bad at all, although it's a little short on the "funny". The "plot" (there's not a lot of action in this) involves a strategic defense consultant, named Richard Elster, who has retreated to his desert getaway after his stint advising on the Iraq War. The narrator is a film-maker who is trying to get Elster to make a Robert McNamara style interview film with him -- the film would be one continuous shot of Elster saying anything he wants, against the background of a blank wall. Elster resists, occasionally objecting that what the film-maker wants is a confession. At other times he deflects the conversation with quasi-cosmic reflections about the universe and time.

"Point Omega" refers to Teilhard de Chardin's idea of a kind of culmination of the history of the universe in a point of maximum complexity and maximum consciousness. The movement toward that culmination is not chaotic -- the universe is actively drawn to that endpoint. Its inevitability is mirrored by the framing chapters of the book, in which the narrator attends a museum showing of Hitchcock's Psycho, played at about 2 frames/second so that the movie takes 24 hours to play. Played at such a slow speed, there is an excruciating inevitability to the action -- e.g., the investigator Arbogast falling slowly but inexorably backwards down the staircase when attacked by Anthony Perkins.

At Elster's desert retreat his daughter comes to visit, sent by her mother (divorced from Elster), who wants to remove the daughter from a relationship she mistrusts. The daughter is so nondescript as to be almost not there. And finally she isn't. While Elster and the narrator go to town to get groceries, she disappears without a trace. Elster is broken by her disappearance and starts a slow (2 frames/second?) descent towards the end of the story. The film-maker returns Elster, now mostly immobile and silent, from the desert to face his ex-wife.

What do you make of all this? It's an apocalyptic vision. We are like Arbogast slowly, inexorably falling backwards down the stairs. Elster has seen through to the end -- "we want to be the dead matter we used to be". We'll reach the "omega point" where consciousness compels itself into some sort of dead self-rumination -- the reflective life of a stone that eventually has nothing left to reflect about. If Elster ever did the on-camera self-reflection he's asked to do, he would ruminate himself into disappearance. Like I said, it's a little short on the "funny".

Delillo's novels are great cultural commentaries, maybe the best of our time. Underworld is recognized as a modern classic, and White Noise is one of the best, and most entertaining, books I've ever read. If you want more of the "funny" and you haven't read it, try that one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too subtle for me...
First, Point Omega is a novella, so don't expect much over 100 pages of text.It's not that I think a reader should pick a book based on the any "words per dollar" ration, but just be aware this is a slim book.

Second, this is a subtle book, like Falling Man.There are unique characters, all with disorders of one type or another.And when one character, the daughter of a retired professor who became a military consultant, goes missing in the desert, the reader is left with... tense anticipation.

And the description of the "24 Hour Psycho" art display... a screening of the classic film Psycho but slowed down to last a full 24 hours, isn't near as haunting as knowing that there is a person who wants to see this 24 hour film again, and again, and again.

Could this stranger be connected to the missing daughter?

Too subtle for me. ... Read more

3. The Names
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 352 Pages (1989-07-17)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679722955
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Takes place in the time of the Iranian revolution in Greece, the Middle East and India. An American risk analyst becomes obsessed by news of a ritual murder and is drawn to search for clues--a journey that takes over everything else in his life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

1-0 out of 5 stars booorrringg
A friend recommended this book, thinking that because I was an expat American in the Middle East about the same time as the author I'd find it interesting, plus "the writing is great."I know that Delillo is a very respected author, so perhaps the problem is me, but I honestly found the characters unappealing and totally forgettable, the story almost non-existent, and the constant description of anything lying about ready to be described very pretentious and so boring that I could hardly keep awake.After several unsuccessful attempts of getting into it one way or other, I gave up and tossed the book half read into the trash ... and I have no curiosity about how things turned out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Our offering is language.
While the names is far from the funny, fast-moving prose of End Zone and Running Dog, it's not without its humor, and it's just as suspenseful, in its own way.
The plot, in so far as there is a plot, concerns a series of cult murders based around language. Towards the beginning, the protagonist(?), James, is staying in Greece, but soon moves to an Island with his son Tap (who is writing a novel) and his wife, although the two are separated. His wife does excavation digs, and is friends with an older man, Owen. Owen runs into the formerly mentioned language cult while walking towards the Acropolis, and they ask him an important question: "How many languages do you speak?" This first part of this book, where he is with his wife and son, is probably my favorite.
One of my only complaints of this novel is that, towards the end, I was ready for it to be over. When it was detailing Owen in the middle east, I got tired of it after a while. And I could have done without the last few pages, an excerpt from the "non-fiction fiction" of Tap.
However, despite that, this is still one of my favorite Delillo novels. It's a shame that it's sort of buried under the radar compared to novels like White Noise and Mao II, because in many ways I prefer it.
If you haven't read Delillo, don't read this one first: Pick up End Zone. But if you have, don't overlook this one. It has some of my favorite dialogue of any of his novels.

1-0 out of 5 stars A vacuous, pointless and boring book
I have to disagree with the other reviewers here; the book was vacuous, pointless and boring. There is a lot of faux-cosmopolitanism that makes one either cringe (if one takes it seriously) or lose interest (if one does not). The plot is as devoid of internal dynamism as the characters are superficial. I rarely find a book to be a complete waste of time; but this book unfortunately proved to one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dust and Heat
"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat." --John Milton

One star for each of Pages 226, 227, 228, 229 and 230. Especially page 230, Mr. DeLillo. You took us there, sir. The place where embodied love can start; up against that wall, crushing all denial.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Bookschlepper Recommends
This is multiple stories: the man attempting to remain connected with his estranged wife and son; the men who labor in middle management on an international scale (the propeller set, not the jet set); their wives; an eccentric archaeologist; a mysterious sect enamored of alphabets. Anyone interested in alphabets would, by necessity, jaunt from Greece to Lebanon to India, as does James as he works on the ABCs of clues. It is a novel of global politics and the people who cope or become disjointed; contrary to the book jacket, it is not about terrorism per se but rather fringe lunatics. ... Read more

4. Underworld
by Don DeLillo
Hardcover: 832 Pages (2007-06-05)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$17.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416548645
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Our lives, our half-century.

Nick Shay and Klara Sax knew each other once, intimately, and they meet again in the American desert. He is trying to outdistance the crucial events of his early life, haunted by the hard logic of loss and by the echo of a gunshot in a basement room. She is an artist who has made a blood struggle for independence.

Don DeLillo's mesmerizing novel opens with a legendary baseball game played in New York in 1951. The glorious outcome -- the home run that wins the game is called the Shot Heard Round the World -- shades into the grim news that the Soviet Union has just tested an atomic bomb.

The baseball itself, fought over and scuffed, generates the narrative that follows. It takes the reader deep into the lives of Nick and Klara and into modern memory and the soul of American culture -- from Bronx tenements to grand ballrooms to a B-52 bombing raid over Vietnam.

A generation's master spirits come and go. Lenny Bruce cracking desperate jokes, Mick Jagger with his devil strut, J. Edgar Hoover in a sexy leather mask. And flashing in the margins of ordinary life are the curiously connected materials of the culture. Condoms, bombs, Chevy Bel Airs and miracle sites on the Web.

Underworld is a story of men and women together and apart, seen in deep, clear detail and in stadium-sized panoramas, shadowed throughout by the overarching conflict of the Cold War. It is a novel that accepts every challenge of these extraordinary times -- Don DeLillo's greatest and most powerful work of fiction.Amazon.com Review
While Eisenstein documented the forces of totalitarianism and Stalinism upon the facesof the Russian peoples, DeLillo offers a stunning, at timesoverwhelming, document of the twin forces of the cold war and Americanculture, compelling that "swerve from evenness" in which hefinds events and people both wondrous and horrifying. Underworld opens with a breathlessly graceful prologue setduring the final game of the Giants-Dodgers pennant race in1951. Written in what DeLillo calls "super-omniscience" thesentences sweep from young Cotter Martin as he jumps the gate to thepress box, soars over the radio waves, runs out to the diamond, slidesin on a fast ball, pops into the stands where J. Edgar Hoover issitting with a drunken Jackie Gleason and a splenetic Frank Sinatra,and learns of the Soviet Union's second detonation of a nuclearbomb. It's an absolutely thrilling literary moment. When Bobby Thomsonhits Branca's pitch into the outstretched hand of Cotter--the"shot heard around the world"--and Jackie Gleason pukes onSinatra's shoes, the events of the next few decades are set in motion,all threaded together by the baseball as it passes from hand to hand.

"It's all falling indelibly into the past," writesDeLillo, a past that he carefully recalls and reconstructs with acutegrace. Jump from Giants Stadium to the Nevada desert in 1992,where Nick Shay, who now owns the baseball, reunites with the artistKara Sax. They had been brief and unlikely lovers 40 years before, andit is largely through the events, spinoffs, and coincidentalencounters of their pasts that DeLillo filters the Cold Warexperience. He believes that "global events may alter how we livein the smallest ways," and as the book steps back in time to1951, over the following 800-odd pages, we see just how those eventsalter lives. This reverse narrative allows the author to strip awaythe detritus of history and pop culture until we get to the story'spure elements: the bomb, the baseball, and the Bronx. In an epilogueas breathless and stunning as the prologue, DeLillo fast-forwards to anear future in which ruthless capitalism, the Internet, and a new,hushed faith have replaced the Cold War's blend of dread andeuphoria.

Through fragments andinterlaced stories--including those of highway killers, artists,celebrities, conspiracists, gangsters, nuns, and sundryothers--DeLillo creates a fragile web of connected experience, acommunal Zeitgeist that encompasses the messy whole of fivedecades of American life, wonderfully distilled. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (331)

5-0 out of 5 stars completely amazing book
One could spend years with Underworld as it contains so much thought provoking, poetic and historical material.Delillo's prose is something to marvel at, but then so are the characters, the vignettes, the sweep of time and the montage of his sequence. Not all of it this easy to follow and one must be willing to really familarize oneself with the progressive layers of his writing.Language is very much a thread throughout the book, from discussions about the power of vocabulary to the regional aspects of American English, to the true poetry of the Delillo's writing, and so much more.Masculinity and the American male as a cultural, political, psychological etc. animal is explored with a wonderful touch.One item i haven't seen yet in the reviews is mention of Richard Poe's reading of the unabridged book.Just incredible. Much more like radio theater than a book really.I can't say enough good about the book or Poe's narration.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort
Don Delillo is one of those writers who heavily polarizes readers, and this novel is no exception. One thing that is particularly obvious is that there is a heavy disparity between the reactions of professional book critics and general readers for this book, as is the case for Delillo's famous novel, White Noise. It is quite easy to see why this is the case: Delillo is simply not a novelist for everyone. That is particularly true of this book. This novel has a much more somber, serious tone that many of the other Delillo novels I have read, though there are moments of satire and absurd dialogue that are akin to White Noise. This novel will ultimately reward the patient and punish the reader who longs for alacrity and a cast of easily identifiable characters. Indeed, one of the most common criticisms of this book is the fact that the characters appear cold and inhuman. Delillo does tend to treat his characters more like concepts than humans; however, I did not find this to completely be the case for Underworld. While this does indeed seem to be true of some of the characters, I felt quite connected to many of the novel's characters.

Underworld provides a myriad of characters, but the novel's ostensible protagonist is Nick Shay, a former ruffian from the Bronx who has turned into a very well-educated business man. After the novel's very impressive prologue (I do disagree with the popular assertion that this is the best part of the novel, as impressive as it is), we are introduced to Nick Shay. In this portion of the book, Nick presents the details of his current life in a first-person account. Nick is deliberately repetitive in this part of the book. I have noticed that many are a bit put off by the repetition, but I think it serves a good purpose: Nick seems to be repeating many of the details about his suburban life in order to convince himself that he is happy and content with his existence, thus illustrating that he is, in fact, discontent. Nick immediately comes across as a cold, impassive character, which adheres to the common criticism of the book, but a close reading indicates that he is a man who has essentially lost his humanity. He has become as inanimate and spurious as the well- manicured suburbs around him. For the duration of the novel, we follow Nick Shay and the novel's other characters in a backward journey. This novel is essentially told in reverse: instead of beginning with these characters in the 50's and following their development over the years, the novel's main narrative begins in the 90's. As we follow Nick into the past, we find him to be more and more of a flawed human. Beneath the Nick's affected sheen, there is brooding pathos, loneliness, and regret. Due to this, the novel comes across as something of an anti-bildungsroman. It becomes apparent that many of the characters have become increasingly affect less and fragmented due to the cold war and an increasingly artificial society.

Underworld is certainly not without its flaws. The novel could have used some additional editing, and it does tend to sag a bit in the middle section. However, I have found this to be the case with many longer novels. The novel's strength lies within Delillo's incredible writing and almost impressionistic presentation of characters and events. One will find oneself wishing to highlight lines on each page of the book. The central metaphor of the baseball also becomes very interesting. For Nick, this baseball symbolizes the fact that one person's fortune is often the misfortune of someone else, as this ball enabled one person to win a baseball game due to the pitcher's mistake, a rather harrowing fact. One problem I've noticed is the fact that many who heavily disparage this book did not finish it; one has to consider the book as a whole in order to see its many strengths. One cannot come to this book expecting a quick and easy read, but if you wish for an ambitious, poignant portrait of the second half of the 20th Century in America, look no further.

2-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly overrated
I'm not of fan of most contemporary fiction. I tell that to most people and they inevitably have the, "Oh, but you probably haven't read such and such." I walk away from these conversations with doubt but that little piece of hope in me that is always open to finding Faulkner before everyone knew who he was. I rarely turn a recommendation down. I feel I owe it to the "for argument's sake" conversations I'll always be exposed to in the future. That's why I read Underworld. I have read White Noise and was underwhelmed, but I thought there was potential enough in it that this recommendation could pan out. Wrong. It's a good book. I'm not interested in "good books." I never feel close with DeLillo's characters; they feel like props and puppets and are always missing that human quality that always goes hand in hand with great writing. For instance, I feel closer to Quentin Compson than I do with most of my closest friends.

Of all the recommendations from contemporary fiction that did something for me, only two stand out: Cormac McCarthy and Mark Helprin; both are outstanding and easily the best American writers out there. I think just for that reason I leave the door open for contemporary writers to prove me wrong and I'll read just about anything somebody recommends to me, hoping to find another McCarthy or Helprin.

3-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written But It Lacked Something for Me
You can pick any page of this book at random and find a passage that's magnificently crafted; that's what motivated me to buy it and read it.It's not really a story as much as a meditation, and it's not a narrative as much as a masterful interweaving of motifs and themes.As far as character development, well, I don't mind if books give characters a back seat to ideas, which seems to be what Delillo is doing.

But, despite Delillo's technical prowess, the book ultimately left me kind of cold.It's an ambitious vision of post-war America, but for Delillo that mostly means New York City (sometimes Arizona), baseball, trash (literally), and nuclear bombs.This doesn't seem like a particularly interesting collection of themes, at least not for me.And Delillo's narrative voice seems often to clash with his subject matter; he's good at writing in a lyrical, poetic, quasi-mystical voice, but tends to aim it at undeserving targets.E.g., he marvels at the interconnectedness of all things as reflected in the contents of a trash can: all the pieces of trash came from somewhere, they'll all wind up in a landfill, they'll join with other pieces of stuff from other places, etc. And his "holy innocent" narrator voice doesn't seem to sit well with his worldly editorializing on social turmoil, political controversies, or the vulgarities and grit of life in New York.

Actually, juxtaposing the "sacred and profane", high culture and pop, the beautiful and the repellent is a main stylistic tendency of Delillo.For me it reached its ultimate in the early scene of Jackie Gleason puking on Frank Sinatra's shoes.I guess it's a credit to Delillo's descriptive powers, but I almost couldn't continue with the book after that point.

In all fairness it seems like the kind of book that needs more than one reading, but given its size and my initial impression of it, I doubt that I'll be returning, unless it's for a few random passages to admire Delillo's writing again.This is all a matter of gut reaction on my part, a question of taste.The critic Luc Sante, who I generally admire, is wild about the book, but I'm afraid I can't share his enthusiasm. You'll know after the first 100 pages if you want to continue (Jackie Gleason scene notwithstanding); if the music of Delillo's writing is alluring enough to you by then, you'll enjoy the experience of reading the rest of the book--even if, like me, by the end you ultimately don't consider it an all-time favorite.

3-0 out of 5 stars The marathon of danced-out plots
I thought I must enjoy this book being a baseball fan and a waste engineer, and I found those two themes and the lead character Nick Shay/Costanza full of insight, but the rest of the novel is just too long with many diversions that either go nowhere or are overwrought.This novel with 300 pages cut out, and focused on a baseball and Nick would be very good to excellent.The baseball interludes are structured like Accordion Crimes by Proulx, which I greatly enjoyed, following the people attached to an object.The main plot on the other hand goes backward in time starting near the present in the 90s and going back to the 50s, with an epilogue in the 90s again.This structure would work for me if only the book were shorter and tightly edited, as it is, I lost the links and didn't really care that I'd missed them.The novel seems to want to set up `mysteries' that we assume will be resolved at the end, and some are, but others are not.The street dialogue of Brooklyn in the 50s was very evocative, and the ties between waste, objects, and longing were all well developed.Let me end with a couple of my favourite quotes:

"He imagined he was watching the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza--only this was twenty-five times bigger....All this ingenuity and labor, this delicate effort to fit maximum waste into diminishing space.The towers of the World Trade Center were visible in the distance and he sensed a poetic balance between that idea and this one.... all the great works of transport, trade and linkage were directed in the end to this culminating structure.... He looked at all that soaring garbage and knew for the first time what his job was all about.... He dealt in human behaviour, people's habits and impulses, their uncontrollable needs and innocent wishes, maybe their passions, certainly their excesses and indulgences but their kindness too, their generosity, and the question was how to keep this mass metabolism from overwhelming us.
The mountain was here, unconcealed, but no one saw it or thought about it, ... and he saw himself for the first time as a member of an esoteric order, they were adepts and seers, crafting the future, the city planners, the waste managers, the compost technicians, the landscapers who would build hanging gardens here, make a park one day out of every kind of used and lost and eroded object of desire."

"I rearrange books on the old shelves and match and mix for the new shelves and then I stand there looking...Or I walk through the house and look at the things we own and feel the odd mortality that clings to every object.The finer and rarer the object, the more lonely it makes me feel, and I don't know how to account for this."

"At a glance he belongs to these wild privatized times, to the marathon of danced-out plots." ... Read more

5. Falling Man: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 272 Pages (2008-06-03)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416546065
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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There is September 11 and then there are the days after, and finally the years.

Falling Man is a magnificent, essential novel about the event that defines turn-of-the-century America. It begins in the smoke and ash of the burning towers and tracks the aftermath of this global tremor in the intimate lives of a few people.

First there is Keith, walking out of the rubble into a life that he'd always imagined belonged to everyone but him. Then Lianne, his es-tranged wife, memory-haunted, trying to reconcile two versions of the same shadowy man. And their small son Justin, standing at the window, scanning the sky for more planes.

These are lives choreographed by loss, grief and the enormous force of history.

Brave and brilliant, Falling Man traces the way the events of September 11 have reconfigured our emotional landscape, our memory and our perception of the world. It is cathartic, beautiful, heartbreaking.Amazon.com Review
The defining moment of turn-of-the-21st-century America is perfectly portrayed in National Book Award winner Don DeLillo's Falling Man. The book takes its title from the electrifying photograph of the man who jumped or fell from the North Tower on 9/11.It also refers to a performance artist who recreates the picture.The artist straps himself into a harness and in high visibility areas jumps from an elevated structure, such as a railway overpass or a balcony, startling passersby as he hangs in the horrifying pose of the falling man.

Keith Neudecker, a lawyer and survivor of the attack, arrives on his estranged wife Lianne's doorstep, covered with soot and blood, carrying someone else's briefcase.In the days and weeks that follow, moments of connection alternate with complete withdrawl from his wife and young son, Justin.He begins a desultory affair with the owner of the briefcase based only on their shared experience of surviving: "the timeless drift of the long spiral down." Justin uses his binoculars to scan the skies with his friends, looking for "Bill Lawton" (a misunderstood version of bin Laden) and more killing planes.Lianne suddenly sees Islam everywhere: in a postcard from a friend, in a neighbor's music--and is frightened and angered by its ubiquity.She is riveted by the Falling Man.Her mother Nina's response is to break up with her long-time German lover over his ancient politics.In short, the old ways and days are gone forever; a new reality has taken over everyone's consciousness.This new way is being tried on, and it doesn't fit.Keith and Lianne weave into reconciliation.Keith becomes a professional poker player and, when questioned by Lianne about the future of this enterprise, he thinks: "There was one final thing, too self-evident to need saying.She wanted to be safe in the world and he did not."

DeLillo also tells the story of Hammad, one of the young men in flight training on the Gulf Coast, who says: "We are willing to die, they are not.This is our srength, to love death, to feel the claim of armed martyrdom."He also asks: "But does a man have to kill himself in order to accomplish something in the world?"His answer is that he is one of the hijackers on the plane that strikes the North Tower.

At the end of the book, De Lillo takes the reader into the Tower as the plane strikes the building.Through all the terror, fire and smoke, De Lillo's voice is steady as a metronome, recounting exactly what happens to Keith as he sees friends and co-workers maimed and dead, navigates the stairs and, ultimately, is saved.Though several post-9/11 novels have been written, not one of them is as compellingly true, faultlessly conceived, and beautifully written as Don De Lillo's Falling Man. --Valerie Ryan ... Read more

Customer Reviews (86)

1-0 out of 5 stars Review
I had to read Don DeLillo's "Falling Man" in my English class. First I thought, it would be interesting to learn something about survivor's feelings; how they tried to handle 9/11 and in which way this attack changed their lives, however, the book disappointed me. First of all Don DeLillo's writing style is really difficult to read. Most of time I had no idea what or who the author was talking about.

The author jumps from one point of view to another. Additionally he uses leaps of time to respond to each character and applies too much symbolism. Moreover Don DeLillo writes awful dialogues; these parts are mostly insignificant and needless. I although hoped there would be more character development, mainly in Keith's life; from my point of view Don DeLillo failed in this regard.

All in all his writing style is really chaotic. On the one hand it makes the book hard to understand, but on the other hand it demonstrates the character's momentary "lifestyle". Although my last mentioned aspect is a comprehensible idea of writing, in the end the reader only gets a randomly written story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Feelings, not facts
I'm not sure what I learned from this book but, sentence by sentence, I loved it.Stylistically, it reminded me more of Delillo's "Libra" than "White Noise," although as other readers have noted, "Falling Man" is somewhat light on plot.This is an atmospheric read.It is well-researched --the book is firmly grounded in New York City geographically and sociologically, and the segments told from the point of view of nascent terrorist Hammad are convincing -- but not much happens to the characters.The September 11th scenes that bookend the novel are viscerally affecting and dreamlike.If you're looking for a timeline or a blow-by-blow account, this isn't it.Anyway, "Falling Man" places most of its emphasis on the emotional aftermath of the attack.

Delillo concentrates on Keith, a lawyer who was in the south tower of the World Trade Center when it was hit, and his estranged wife Lianne, thoughtful upper-middle-class white people in their early forties, and follows them for about three years, along with some of the people with whom they come into contact -- relatives, neighbors, poker players and strangers like the woman whose briefcase Keith inadvertently rescues from the collapsing tower. There is no big satisfying emotional denouement for Kevin and Lianne.The satisfaction I felt after finishing had more to do with Delillo's use of language and tone than with where he left his characters.

People seem to have very definite expectations for a novel about September 11th. This one isn't really about how or why the planes hit the towers.It's about what happens to two particular New Yorkers afterwards, and it is beautifully written.

3-0 out of 5 stars Random Chaos
I've never been really able to get into a Don Delillo book after 'White Noise'.He is a brilliant author, but his terse prose, while definitely one of the trademarks of a wordsmith worth his salt, also tends to leave the reader (this reader, at least) struggling to keep up with the turns each character takes because so much is ellipted. The non-linear, stream-of-consciousness narrative confused me quite a bit.

His focus on the effects of 9/11 on a middle class Manhattan family gave a very human angle to the macro-event, but somehow, I don't feel very engaged with the characters.

And the 'Falling Man', a performance artist who appears all over town free-falling with nothing more than a safety harness after the catastrophe, is meant to be significant as some central motif, and represent the free fall and randomness of life, perhaps, but it felt too random. Maybe that was the whole point of it?

4-0 out of 5 stars more than one "falling man"
This book opens with an apocalyptic-type scene where a man is walking through ash and debris. Three pages later we realize that the scene is New York on Sept. 11, 2001. Keith is a lawyer who escapes from the South Tower and goes home to his estranged wife Lianne and young son Justin. He brings with him a briefcase belonging to Florence Givens, who lost it during a fall in the stairwell. The book is about these 4 people, primarily Keith and Lianne, plus Hammad, one of the terrorists. The Falling Man is a performance artist who seems to re-enact the leaps from the burning towers by falling head first with a harness and a non-bungee-like tether. (My favorite image is that of the Falling Man as a Tarot card.) Symbolically, Keith is the falling man, though, as he has a brief affair with Florence and then becomes a full-time poker player--possibly in some kind of homage to his poker-night friends who died in the World Trade Center. DeLillo makes copious use of pronouns, so that it sometimes requires several paragraphs of reading to determine who is the antecedent of "he" or "she." This technique emphasizes the disconnectedness of the characters that is prevalent throughout the novel. The tragedy has caused them to become somewhat robotic and caused me to consider the lives of the survivors and their families. The inclusion of Hammad's story, brief and incomplete, seemed unnecessary to me, and he doesn't come to life nearly as well as the terrorists did in The Garden of Last Days by André Dubus III. As far as Keith and Lianne are concerned, DeLillo sums them up in what is probably the most quoted and most telling line in the novel: "She wanted to be safe in the world and he did not."

3-0 out of 5 stars Lesser DeLillo
DeLillo's 9/11 terrorists read like a weak echo of earlier DeLillo gangs - most notably, of the Moonies of Mao II who sit in their van, intensifying their all-excluding faith. "They looked through the windows and saw the faces of fallen-world people. It totalised their attachment to true father. Pray all night at times, all of them, chanting, shouting out, leaping up from prayer stance, lovely moaning prayers to Master, oh please, oh yes ..." Here is Hammad, similarly pitying of unbelievers, similarly tunnel-visioned: "This entire life, this world of lawns to water and hardware stacked on endless shelves, was total, forever, illusion. In the camp on the windy plain they were shaped into men. They fired weapons and set off explosives. They received instruction in the highest jihad, which is to make blood flow, their blood and that of others." There is a definite decline in the quality of the writing. The middle two sentences about the "windy plain" and "explosives" could come from an Andy McNab novel. A few years ago, DeLillo's weapons wouldn't have been merely "fired" nor his explosives "set off". This isn't seeing-saying, it is repeating. For the truth is that, in Mao II, DeLillo had already written his great 9/11 novel, long before the specific date and the event happened to come around. He even identified the target: "Out the south windows the Trade towers stood cut against the night, intensely massed and near. This is the word 'loomed' in all its prolonged and impending force." ... Read more

6. Americana (Contemporary American fiction)
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 384 Pages (1989-07-06)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140119485
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A factional reconstruction of the events leading up to John Kennedy's assassination. The antihero of the book is, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald, who is as hauntingly real in this book as he was elusive in real life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars A brillinant writer in the America tradition
Don DeLillo is one of the greatest wtiters of contemporary fiction. Americana is a delightfully conceived, but jaundiced view of the American way of life. As a serious satirical writer he has no peer. The characters he creates, particularly his protagonist, live in a world of make believe, a phony fantasy land of pretentious expediency with mannerisms. Nevertheless, all are interesting as personalities because DeLillo is a superb creator of realistic, yet bizarre people, often referring to screen idols such as Burt Lancaster as some sort of lifestyle role model. His characters are about as real - yet they are entertaining - like puppets. Their ethics are non existent, yet they go through the motions, they pretend to be friendly - but politeness is only a means to an end. Loyalty is meaningless. It seems their beliefs are the result of indoctrination at the hands of the puppetmaster, or master of ceremonies, DeLillo himself.

The setting is an advertising agency. David is one of the executives who has been pushed into it by his ruthless and detestable father. He is going quietly insane in a cynical exploitive way, without any loyalties whatsoever - not even to his wives, lovers or family members. He takes what he can get without regret or compunction yet has a certain sensitivity lurking just below the surface. He knows he is beyond redemption but doesn't seem to care. He is the complete iconoclast and he knows it and he knows why. He realizes what his father and many like him represent, but doesn't condemn him. He accepts him for what he is and takes what he can get from him. He has been programmed to conform to the life of a predator without a conscience, with a pseudo religious sense of self righteousness, and is aware of it, but does he care? He is in advertising where images and sales are all that count. It is all about the survival of the fittest, and the fittest are the phoniest. It is where the origin of the species died of shame. This is a wonderful read by a superb craftsman.The Learning Process: Some Creative Impressions

4-0 out of 5 stars INTO THE VORTEX
"Into the vortex of the cliche'" David thinks his wife will lead him.Later, Sullivan tells David, the main characdter, "David, you're a lovable cliche' "What are these references to a "cliche' " but a sly authorialnod to the greatest cliche' of all, the wriging of the the "great American novel". And yet, where's there's smoke there's fire, where there's a cliche'there's something that initially prompted it. And while DeLillo may make fun of the "great American novel" he comes tantalizingly close towriting one.

It's a sneaky novel, sneaky in that writing about the American experience, trying to make some sense of whether it is more adream of innocence or a nightmare of technological power which has waged20th century wars across the planet. It ends by deciding "the literature I had been confronting these past days [were] archetypes of the dismal mystery"The novel ends in "silence and darkness",David leaving arguably a low point in American history and culture, the place where JFK was assassinated in Dallas, and returningto where he began, New York, a "falling man" [interestingly, the title ofhis laterpost 9-11 novel} involved in advertising, the world in which "words and meaning were at odds".

Advertising, it is stated, moves the viewer from the "first to the third person", suggesting that American's relentless material success has removed authenticity from the experience of the individual and diminished his existence by making him into a consumer, a person who fulfills himself only by viewing images and trying toemulate them.A camera shot is described of a group of ladies with shopping bags, "a fabulous salute to the forgetfulness of being.What better proof that they have been alive?"America, then, is a land of infinitely multiple and created images.To consume these images is to forget that you are a human being, that you are alive.Purposefully,most ofthis novel uses the third person;"David Bell" cannot continually exist as an "I" - he has been corrupted by America.

There are a number of fleeting references to James Joyce whose "young artist" could only escape the moral and artisticdeath of a corrupt Ireland by going into exile.It is no accident that early in AMERICANA, David Bell does use the first person, "I" and mentions that he too is in exile, "It's time to run the film again. . . not much to do on this island."The act of trying to solve the mystery of America, its contradictions and paradoxes, finally is overwhelming, and all one can do is to cinematically (the art form most developed in America) run the film again, take one more look at the images, and then . . . the rest is up to the reader.

3-0 out of 5 stars fair
thought I was getting an newer version, but all books read the same. great read

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, boring
The book is insightful, interesting and very relevant. The only problem for me was that the long descriptions and the general slowness with which the story unfolds bored me to the point where I had to force myself to keep reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Best DeLillo
Of all the DeLillo books AMERICANA is my favorite. His writing seems to be the most lyrical and artful in this book (with the exception of the first section of UNDERWORLD, which blew me away) and the plot of this is my favorite of all his books as well, and for me the easiest to follow. DeLillo is one of our best contemporary writers, AMERICANA is one of his best books, ... Read more

7. End Zone
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 256 Pages (1986)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140085688
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In West Texas, college men play football with intense passion. During a winning season the running back, Gary Harkness, is fuelled by fear of, and fascination with, nuclear conflict. Among players the terminologies of football and nuclear war - the language of end zones - become interchanged.Amazon.com Review
Don DeLillo's second novel, a sort of Dr. Strangelove meetsNorth DallasForty, solidified his place in the American literary landscapein the early 1970s. The story of an angst-ridden, war-obsessed runningback for Logos College in West Texas, End Zone is a heady andhilarious conflation of Cold War existentialism and the parodiedparallelism of battlefield/sports rhetoric. When not arguing nuclearendgame strategy with his professor, Major Staley, narrator GaryHarkness joins a brilliant and unlikely bunch of overmuscledgladiators on the field and in the dormitory. In characteristicfashion, DeLillo deliberately undermines the football-is-combatcliché by having one of his characters explain: "I rejectthe notion of football as warfare. Warfare is warfare. We don't needsubstitutes because we've got the real thing." What remains is aninsightful examination of language in an alien, postmodern world,where a football player's ultimate triumph is his need to play thegame. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not DeLillo's best
Normally, I enjoy literature that has a firm theoretical underpinning, but I also like novels that include plot, character development and the other generally recognized niceties of the trade.End Zone, while intellectually challenging, offered very little in terms of a satisfying read.

The book is ostensibly about a West Texas college football team (and even that was a stretch, considering the fact that the only place in West Texas that gets snow is El Paso, and they certainly do not get blizzards). The college, located on the fringes of nowhere (like El Paso), has nothing to offer new recruits aside from "work and pain." Beyond that simple premise there's really nothing that either I, or the back cover of the book, can offer you in the way of enlightenment. DeLillo works in his hallmark themes of destruction, self destruction, mass destruction, mutually-assured destruction, and other things destructive with some lovely original prose, but not much happens. However, as most of the book is devoted to football and/or war, some readers have inferred that DeLillo is proposing one as a metaphor for the other.

Contrary to what most of the 242 pages of End Zone have printed on them, this book is not about either war or football. The book is actually about language. (Hint: the college is named Logos.) The common ground that both war and football share (aside from the fact that one is a microcosm of the other) is a virtually unintelligible jargon in which words themselves serve as a vehicle of destruction. In short, the less concrete meaning the words retain, the more abstractly destructive they become. Eventually, the words lose all coherence as they fade at last from the realm of recognizable language to become "animal sounds." DeLillo makes this point right at the start of the book when Gary Harkness realizes that the sign in his room ("When the going gets tough, the tough get going") had a beauty that "flew from the words themselves, the letters, consonants, swallowing vowels, aggression and tenderness...all meaning faded" (p 17). And lest you forget this message, DeLillo repeats it towards the end--now voiced by Taft, who sums up his perfectly ordered universe as: "Silence, words, silence, silence, silence" (p 240).

The rest may be silence, but in the context of man-made disasters and empty consumerism, DeLillo could have done more. And in fact, he has. So, if you are about to dive into DeLillo take my advice: skip End Zone, and go straight to White Noise. It's a true masterpiece of social satire, without any confusing pseudo-metaphors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Penultimate Delillo
End Zone / 0-14-008568-8

End Zone, an allegory between football, war, and destruction, wonderfully fleshes out the Delillo obsession with mass death and world devastation. His characters wear shirts with mushroom clouds festooned on the front, they brood over Risk-esque games that focus around an "end times" scenario, they meditate in the desert on the nature of death, the meaninglessness of life, and pain of existence. The football analogy is apt, and carefully exploited, but there is much more at work here and even if you don't like, understand, or follow football, the message is not lost.

Like White Noise, the analogy centers around the inner workings of an isolated college campus (White Noise has a campus isolated in an idyllic Eastern American setting, End Zone features a campus isolated in a harsh Southern American setting). The students play silent games such as "Bang-You're Dead!" and the slow, melodramatic death throes of the players brings a depth of meaning to their otherwise hectic and worried lives. Students stress over weight, football skill, philosophy, and term papers, but this normal stress takes on a heightened, penultimate status in Delillo's fevered pitch. Like White Noise, End Zone invites us to examine our lives for deeper meaning, but the meaning we find we may not like.

~ Ana Mardoll

4-0 out of 5 stars To Play Or Not To Play
This was a riot! Small college football team - half of whom are the stereotypical "dumb jocks" and the other half are Rhodes Scholars. Imagine if you will the interplay among them as they go through a season.

Not a football fan? No problem. You probably will be no closer to being one after reading this book. But you will be a fan of DeLillo. The sports setting is just his device for a take on the study of war.

Why only four stars? This is one of his earlier books and the writing wasn't as developed. The story and the characters, though, make this a fast and fun read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delillo's Early Classic
"End Zone" is like a Delillo primer: it introduces and develops his major themes, gives a taste of his absurd, over-the-top dialogue, and treats its genre conventions playfully. A football novel, "End Zone" is hardly a football novel- its a football-as-ritual novel, and as such it's about conceptions of identity and nuclear anxiety, and how language develops and even designates the forms of both these things. Delillo is concerned with language first- always- and how it shapes the stories we tell that make up who we are. This is about language as a distancing device used to subvert the passage to death. Which, come to think of it, is what pretty much all his books are about. In fact, "End Zone" is such a concise introduction to Delillo that I'd pretty much demand that anyone wisheing to read his stuff start here. It'll make the others much, much easier.

"End Zone" is packed with scenes of men shouting in elaborate code languages and with obvious symbolic tableau. Which is fine. Delillo is rarely a realist, and he's never one here. He's diagnosing the human condition down to the moment and the place. His books might leave America but they're always about this country, and "End Zone" is no exception. It's a visionary novel, and a fine one at that.

It's also very, very funny. It's pretty much a comedy from beginning to end- and it's a good one. Delillo is always humorous, but rarely is he half as funny as he is here on nearly every page. "White Noise," which is extremely funny at times, has nothing on "End Zone"- this book has the distinction of containing the funniest and best sex scene I've ever read. Every sentence in the scene is an ironic bombshell, all eroticism and absurdism brilliantly commingled. But, as always with Delillo, the laughter may sometimes get stuck in the throat; his books are, invariably, about our shared national tragedies, and they never fail to chill one to the very core of one's being. Scenarios of mass death are described in almost perverse detail by the characters in this novel. It's the only Delillo novel to have made me queasy; it may have even numbed me in its entertainment of horror. And this in a book that never has a character die on the page.

"End Zone" is a fine novel- powerful, thought-provoking, and hilarious. It runs on a finely tuned thematic engine, and has devastatingly precise prose. Had Delillo not written "The Names," "White Noise," "Mao II," "Underworld," and "Libra," "End Zone" would still be a 20th century American classic.

3-0 out of 5 stars Extreme states
End Zone is a taught, spare novel that focuses on extreme states of mind and place. Delillo, developing the tone for most of his work, uses super-smart, semi-sane, white American males to work through the peculiar sensations and emotional curves of modern American life. There are heavy hits of data, meditations on extreme ideas of philosophy, love, language: 'If any words have reality outside language they are German', nuclear war - with a wild speculative 'mythic' meditation on this at the novel's climax, and most of all, the hard power plays of football.

On this last point, I am not familiar with the game. But quickly it becomes apparent that this is what the book is about. Right out the traps, typical sentences emerge: 'Hit and get hit; key the pulling guard; run over people; suck some ice and re-assume the three-point stance.' (p2).Presumably Delillo knew most of his readers would not be hardcore football fans (I guess the overlapping point in the venn diagram of lovers of avant garde pomo literature and college jocks is not massive). As a result, for me, much of the book read like Samuel Beckett having a whirl at some weird sports poetry about an absurdist game somewhere west of Endgame or Godotville. The dialogue is original and powerful, and tighter than in Delillo's first novel, Americana, but I found less sustenance here than in that book. Still, it is one of the most original sports novels you are likely to find, even if it is the sort of book that divides opinion. ... Read more

8. Running Dog
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 256 Pages (1989-07-17)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679722947
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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DeLillo transforms the lurid elements of the thriller--espionage, assassination, pornography--into a work of art that captures the fevered shades of the latter-day American psyche. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite Don Delillo novels. 4.5/5
Running Dog is a fast paced, disorienting, paranoia-drenched trip through underground America. The plot is relatively simple: A reporter for a seemingly sludgy magazine called "Running Dog" is looking for a pornographic film of Hitler, supposedly taken just before his suicide. As the story progresses, we follow characters on different sides trying to find the film.
I suggest slowing down for reading this one: the plot gets pretty complex with who's trying to get what for whom.
This was the third Don Delillo novel I read, so I'd already developed a taste for him. It seems that no matter what book someone reads by Don Delillo, they won't like it, or won't start liking it until they're a long ways in. He's certainly the epitome of an acquired taste. If you don't like this novel, I'd read elsewhere and come back to it later.
One thing I love about this novel is that it made me realize how funny Delillo can be! An inexperienced assassin attempting to shoot up a bar and shooting about five feet above everyones head, a man at a bar describing his hilariously bizarre idea of the perfect spectator sport, and Don Delillo's killer dialouge, which never gets better than it does in this novel.
Read this if you've already read and loved Delillo. If you've never read Delillo and you start with this one and dislike it, don't be discouraged. He's often disliked on the first reading. But this book has hair-trigger suspense, humor, killer dialogue, and everything else you could ask for! Check it out.

2-0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment
This is the first novel I've read by DeLillo, and it was a major disappointment.The author has a formidable reputation in American letters, so my expectations were high.The book starts out quite well and appears to be a police procedural, somewhat in the manner of Elmore Leonard (one of my favorite authors).Some previous reviewers have stated the central plot premise, the search for a supposedly hard core pornographic film shot in Hitler's bunker, in the final days of the Third Reich, that supposedly "stars" high-ranking Nazis and possibly Hitler himself.The book begins as highly readable and sustains a rapid pace for nearly the first half.The dialogue is crisp and realistic and the characters are well drawn.But then it falls apart.A large number of secondary characters are introduced, all of whom are cardboard and indistinguishable from one another.Moreover, the plot becomes incomprehensible.I couldn't figure out who was on which side--if indeed there were "sides"--and what they were fighting for, if indeed they were fighting for anything.Moreover, it probably doesn't make any difference.In addition, several seemingly important characters just disappear from the pages and are never seen again.I was kind of curious as to what happens to them, but I guess I'll just have to remain disappointed.

To be fair to DeLillo, this is supposed to be one of his lesser books, so I won't judge him by this production.I plan to read his other major books, and perhaps I'll develop a better sense of what he is like as a writer.However, I cannot recommend this book in any way.

5-0 out of 5 stars The plot could be the counterplot
I'm not a big reader of crime fiction, although I do have a stack of Raymond Chandler books that I swear I'll get to one day.It does seem to me though that a lot of writers want to write Chandler style crime stories but because they're supposed to be post-modern they have to put some kind of odd existential spin on it, as if modern audiences can't handle something straightforward, relatively speaking.Of course, the other theory is that the author is just shoehorning their typical style into a genre they don't normally write in, which may be more the case here.What you have are all the usual elements of a Deillo story but adapted into a gritty noiresque tale so that everything gets kind of tweaked, the dialogue taking being a bit sharper and tougher but still definitely his semi-ironic style where people talk past each other and treat conversations more as a game to be won.His descriptions become a bit more honed, a bit leaner while still maintaining an eye for detail, but you get the idea that if this wasn't supposed to be a detective story then it would take twice as long to get to the end.The plot revolves around people trying to secure a film of what may be an amateur adult video made in the final days of WWII in Hitler's bunker, so you have people of power manuevering for it as well as folks involved in the erotic black market (as in "selling illegal adults products", not a sexy underground) and a spunky yet hardbitten reporter trying to piece it all together.Maybe.The central plot itself doesn't really seem that important as much as an excuse for a lot of entertaining scenes of people attempting to manipulate the crap out of each other and talk tough and try to decipher what the heck else everyone is planning.You have double agents and questionable motives and twists and it actually is a lot of fun in a weary and doom-laden fashion, the book reads a lot faster than I thought it would, but once you figure out that the plot is more or less window dressing for the stylistic hijinks, it gets easier.Thus the characters are more like caricatures and no one really develops but that doesn't seem to be the point.Tellingly the most effective part of the novel is when they finally screen the film and that feels the most like a true Delillo novel in its starkness.But while it's fun and everything, there's not much in the novel to really stick with you.I'm sure Delillo was taking it all quite seriously but it basically amounts to a extremely well written genre exercise.Worth the time but don't expect your life to be altered.

3-0 out of 5 stars Early, "lesser" DeLillo...but still worth your time.

Having recently read several of his excellent later novels ((*White Noise,* *Libra,* *Mao II,* *Cosmopolis*)), I was primed to be disappointed by this earlier DeLillo effort...and I wasn't disappointed in my expectation that I'd be disappointed.

*Running Dog* is a curious novel--a kind of metaphysical/existential detective story written in a sometimes jarringly noir style. This is the kind of novel in which the men all sound tough and jaded and so do all the women. No one actually calls anyone a `dame,' but it seems like they could at any moment. Its that kind of dialogue, especially in the early going, and it takes some time to adjust yourself to this cliché detective-fiction patois, especially if youre accustomed to the exquisite dialogue of DeLillo's later work. But you do adjust, and it does get better eventually, and by the end the novel hits its stride.

The "mystery" surrounds the legend of a film shot in Hitler's bunker at the end of World War II. There are rumors that its a Nazi porno flick starring the studly Fuhrer himself. Thats quite a juicy tidbit to build a novel around--I mean, how could anyone resist reading about that?--and DeLillo does a good job keeping one's decadent appetite `aroused' throughout although whats really on that film ends up being a shock a lot different than what you probably are imagining.

That's not a complaint, necessarily. *Running Dog* is, in the end, a `serious' novel with many of the themes that will eventually re-emerge more powerfully in DeLillo's masterworks. So, despite its detective-story trappings, you shouldnt look for the kind of neat resolution you might expect from genre detective fiction. That kind of resolution is not a part of DeLillo's world, not even this early in his writing career.

All in all, *Running Dog* is an interesting, literate, if not quite literary, thinking-man's page turner--250 pages of entertainment that doesnt insult the intelligence.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Superior Early DeLillo Novel
Originally published in 1978, 'Running Dog' is a provocative novel of ideas brilliantly disguised as a political thriller. It's also, incidentally, a wonderful time capsule of Seventies Americana and paranoia. Reviewers who criticize the book's lack of character development or large cast are missing the point of this novel (and much of DeLillo's fiction). Don DeLillo is a hyperintelligent, hyperliterate novelist who's in the business of upsetting our expectations, not fulfilling them. Case in point: this book begins like a police procedural (two NYPD cops discover a murdered corpse); we think we know where things are going; but instead of giving us the mystery story we expect, DeLillo curveballs his readers into a seriously twisted (in all senses of the word) story of political conspiracies, pornography, the mob, a film from Hitler's bunker, and much else...And those two cops from the beginning of the book? They vanish. We never see them again...
Bottom line: 'Running Dog' is a wild ride. Hop on. You won't regret it. ... Read more

9. Great Jones Street (Contemporary American Fiction)
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 272 Pages (1994-01-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140179178
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The narrator of this novel is Bucky Wunderlick, a Dylan-Jagger amalgam who finds he's gone as far as he knows how. Mid tour he leaves his rock band and holes up in a dingy East Village apartment, in Great Jones Street. The plot revolves around his retreat and a drug designed to silence dissidents. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Elegant and admirable, but I wasn't able to engage.

This is the third book that I've read by DeLillo, and I'm honestly glad that it wasn't the first. I'm not sure that I would have been motivated to pick up anything else if I had started here. Bucky Wunderlick and his rock-star musings about the face of the world just didn't do it for me.

The prose itself is elegant-- and the structure is so clever that I almost liked it despite myself. I get (or I at least kid myself that I get) some of the themes that he was playing with-- Wunderlick's last words-- the regression of his discourse. (That of which we cannot speak, yadda yadda) I'm also not discounting the possibility that there's a parody here which I am missing. I found myself more than once glancing sideways at the author and being sure that I nearly caught him in a secret smile. So-- meaning, elegance, and the possibility of parody. Some great stuff, right?

Trouble with me was that I didn't care enough about any of it to really try to decode the text. (Not that it's ever a good thing to go rummaging around in the novel with a secret decoder ring. I mean that I didn't get the pleasure that I've gotten in the other DeLillo books from making the little connections with the writing. I could see that there were roads to follow, but I wanted the book to end more than I wanted to have fun with the intertextual connections.) The characters left me cold and uninterested. Frankly, his view of rock & roll subculture felt much less authentic to me than-- say-- his take on hothouse academia.

Probably of interest to DeLillo fans, or people interested in the rock star in literature. I certainly wouldn't make this my first DeLillo.

3-0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's a New York novel, not a Rock 'n' Roll novel
Let's start with this: the lyrics that DeLillo writes for Bucky Wunderlich, I mean Wunderlick are just short of pathetic. But let's own up to this too: most rock 'n' rolllyrics look faintly ridiculous on the page. You can print Dylan maybe, but hardly anybody else. If you think I'm kidding, take out your liner notes from your favorite album and read them to a friend. Too embarrassed to finish? My point exactly.
I am prejudiced by my own New York history, but I think that this is a fairly successful novel about life in the city at the end of the sixties. (The sixties, you know weren't really over until the late 70's). Some of thecharacters-Michelle for example-are merely talky standins for the author. Globke, on the other hand may be the author in his weakest moments and that's a lot of fun to speculate upon.
Finally, the end of the book with its vague messianic suggestions is one of the finest epitaph for its era. Maybe, it says, just maybe we have all gone off to some other placeto perform acts of kindness and good will. Maybe we stopped chasing and started changing.

It's a hopeful little idea and a hopeful little book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Novel, OK Delillo Book
This is the one Delillo novel I consistently re-read.I love Bucky Wunderlick!People are rating this as a Delillo novel and not on its own merit.True, not one of Delillo's best, but, my god, look at what he's written.They can't all be the best.If this was written by any other author, this would be a cult classic.The themes of this novel - celebrity, language, artistic creation - are the foundations of all Delillo novels to come.If you want to know where the germination of his ideas come from (and you should read all his novels in order to see his ideas germinate - including Amazons for the origins of White Noise) read Great Jones Street.Read it as an exceptional novel, not an OK Delillo novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's only rock and roll
General consensus has that this is one of Delillo's lesser novels and I really can't disagree.However, I don't think it's completely terrible either, it's short and has enough passages to recommend at least a quick reading of it.One of his early works from the 70s, it involves rock star Bucky who suddenly decides he doesn't want to be a rock star anymore and goes into seclusion, with all kind of rumors swirling about him.People constantly visit him and try to convince him to come back and he gives them evasive answers and flatout denials.Meanwhile, other stuff happens.And that's pretty much the plot.You can see why some people aren't exactly fond of this one.For a certified rock star, you don't really get much of a sense of Bucky as a musician, which may make sense since he's given all that up, but even when people describe what his band plays, you can't quite see how he would have become so ridiculously famous as he apparently is.It doesn't help that, as others have noted, Delillo cannot write rock lyrics to save his life at this point in time.Some chapters are comprised entirely of snippets from his songs, and it proves that Delillo was right to go into prose writing and not help out King Crimson or anything.But those don't bother me too much since I just skim the lyrics and move on to chapters with people talking.I'm not sure where Delillo was actually going with this story, he seems to be trying to do a cross-section of life in NYC, and then at other times he's attempting to satirize the culture and examine the rock and roll lifestyle.But in trying to do all of that, he really doesn't succeed in really dissecting any of them.The plot, for what it's worth, mostly consists of Bucky sitting in his apartment either talking to his neighbors, or to the people visiting him.Interesting but not terribly exciting, especially since Delillo's characters don't normally talk like real people.At his best, dialogue becomes almost a dance, as two people dart and stab at each other.In this book, it becomes one character giving a really long speech that seems almost stream of consciousness and doesn't really amount to anything.When the plot seems to pick up steam later on, you aren't exactly sure what's going on (it involves both a set of "mountain tapes" Bucky recorded and some new drug that people want) or why it's happening.About the biggest selling point is Delillo's prose, which was incisive even at this point, he's nowhere near his peak and the narration isn't consistent in that respect, but he does whip out a number of well worded paragraphs over the course of the novel.As I said, a quick read, but probably more for completists only, since he's done more memorable or interesting work elsewhere.Has anyone ever tried to set his lyrics to music, even just based on the descriptions of Bucky's band given in the novel (which was a lot of screaming, if I understand correctly?) . . . I'd be curious to hear what people come up with.

4-0 out of 5 stars Objectification
This is a great postmodern novel that really examines what it means to be human through the lenses of Bucky, the superstar who has chosen to withdraw himself from the public. In this novel, DeLillo brings up issues such as one's fear of being immobile, and thus objectified and dead; the question of human space; the changeability of human beings--"structural transposition"; humanness--what is "human"? To some extent we are like the grotesque, handicapped boy in this novel: we all have an animal side, and we all bite from time to time. This is the first DeLillo novel that I read, and I have to say that it really intrigued me and got me thinking about issues that I've never thought about before; issues that are wholly relevant and important to our lives in this postmodern, decadent world where nothing is definite. ... Read more

10. Mao II: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 256 Pages (1992-05-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140152741
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Escaping the failed novel he has been working on for years, reclusive writer Bill Gray enters the world of political violence, terrorists, revolutionaries, and modern-day chaos. By the author of Libra. Reprint. NYT. Amazon.com Review
Don DeLillo's follow-up to Libra, his brilliantfictionalization of the Kennedy assassination, Mao II is a series ofelusive set-pieces built around the themes of mass psychology, individualismvs. the mob, the power of imagery and the search for meaning in a blasted,post-modern world. Bill Gray, the world's most famous reclusive novelist, hasbeen working for many years on a stalled masterpiece when he gets the chanceto aid a hostage trapped in a basement in war-torn Beirut. Gray sets out on adoomed, quixotic journey, and his disappearance disrupts the cloistered livesof his obsessed assistant and the assistant's companion, a former Moonie whohas also become Bill's lover. This haunting, masterful novel won thePEN/Faulkner Award in 1992. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

5-0 out of 5 stars Missing
The mass marriage of cult followers at a stadium is viewed by family members.Karen's parents, Maureen, looking haunted, and Rodge, trying to use his college logic to parse the situation, are in the stands.Karen's new husband is named Kim.

A writer out of the view of the public for thirty years is to be photographed by Brita.The writer says a knot binds novelists and terrorists.They become famous effigies.This writer, named Bill Gray, has gained stature by doing nothing, by not publishing his work.Now Karen is with Bill's friend and alter-ego, Scott.Brita is compiling pictures of as many writers as she can.

Scott finds Karen in Kansas.She is with a team selling peanuts when she is captured by deprogrammers hired by her parents.She is found by Scott after escaping the deprogrammers.One gorgeous sentence observes that when Bill leaves self-confinement to visit his publisher, the editor tries to preserve in his dress a link to collegiate fun in order to make people believe publishing is still the book business and not global war through laser technology.When Bill leaves his isolation and finds a parallel to his own mode of being in the plight of another writer, he enters the paranoia enveloping the world of politics and books.

This is DeLillo's piece on mass man.There is alienation.The demonstration of this is artful.It is compelling.Characterization is good, the plot is good, the theme is good, the existentialism is good, and the execution is great.Parts of it remind me of the books of Doris Lessing.It is argued that terrorists have replaced writers as the definers of reality.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Review by Dr. Joseph Suglia
Exactly ten years before the terrorist assaults on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Don DeLillo's Mao II (1991) compared the act of writing to the language of terrorism. Like terrorists, writers once had the power to destabilize perceptions of the world. They unsettled one's customary responses to things and opened up the possibility of new thoughts and impressions. By giving things extraordinary names, literary language had the power to radically transform one's relationship to the world. Today, however, what could be more harmless than a novel? A novel is insignificant in comparison with the explosive force of terrorist initiatives. Literature is dead, and the news is the new means of perceptual disorganization.

The only way that literature can be effective in a culture of terror is by absorbing the gestures of terror. In DeLillo's novel, literature, quite literally, terrorizes. Legendary novelist Bill Gray is blackmailed by a Maoist Lebanese political organization to act as its spokesperson. Although literature has lost its power to alter human perception, the image of the author exerts a certain authority. For this reason, Gray's simulacrum will be used to promote the causes of Lebanese nationalism. The writer becomes a reporter, a mediator of images that stimulate fear.

As if to acknowledge that literature is absorbed by the culture of the image, Mao II takes the form of a "picture-book." On the one hand, its various scenes have the "feel" of a documentary and resemble the news in printed form; there is, for example, an extraordinary "documentary"-like moment in which Brita and Karen watch Khomeini's funeral on television and witness endless crowds simulating paroxysms of grief. On the other hand, each section of the book is segmented by actual photographs: masses of Chinese citizens gathered before Mao Zedong; a preordained marriage ceremony at Yankee stadium; a stampeding crowd crushed against a fence at the Sheffield soccer game; Khomeini's portrait; children in the trenches of war-torn Beirut. All of this serves to reinforce the book's thesis that the book is dead. The book has been consumed by an infinite swarm of technically reproducible images.

The author of a novel about terrorism, Martin Amis incorrectly categorized Mao II as a "postmodernist" work. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the book traces the limits of postmodernism by standing against the transformation of words into images. The novel links the tyranny of images with the tyranny of terror-hence the title, which is taken from one of Andy Warhol's mass-reproductions of Mao Zedong's portrait. By conjoining the order of images with the order of terror, the book condemns both. Of course, one of the characters, George Haddad, representative of the Lebanese terrorist group and Gray's interlocutor, claims that terrorism has not been incorporated and absorbed by the culture of the image: "Only the terrorist stands outside" [157]. By saying this, Hadded attempts to afford an identification between the writer and the terrorist. But the exact opposite is the case-just because Haddad makes this claim does not mean that "DeLillo" agrees with him. Terrorists need technically reproducible images in order to terrorize. Without television and the massive circulation of sound-bytes and images that it empowers, the efforts of terrorism would be ineffective. By contrast, literature is, strictly speaking, invisible: it is constituted by hints, clues, gestures, and ambiguities. In a culture in which terror is spread through images, literature is doomed to failure: "What terrorists gain, novelists lose. The degree to which they influence mass consciousness is the extent of our decline as shapers of sensibility and thought. The danger they represent equals our own failure to be dangerous" [157]. American culture is a culture that valorizes the obvious-and for this reason, terrorism, which exploits the obvious, has a firm hold on the American sensibility. Everything must be visualized, everything must be known, everything must be self-evident, everything must be confessed. There is no place for literary opacity in a culture that values transparency above all else: "Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What writers used to do before we were all incorporated" [41].

And yet terrorists are also incorporated. One must no longer imagine that terrorists are "Others" who infiltrate a domestic territory. Terrorists do not attack "us" by way of an intervention or an incursion from the outside. Terrorism, according to the logic of Mao II, inhabits the very culture that it pretends to assail. All writers are terrorists and "half murderers" [158]-and Gray is no exception. Like the other "dictators" mentioned in the novel-Khomeini, Mao, and Moon-Bill recedes into an exile that would precede his accession to power and intensify his influence. He disguises his past and changes his name (from "Willard Skansey, Jr.") in order to de-expose himself. His openness-the media exposure to which he "submits"-is the most devious form of concealment.

How else can an author survive in a culture of terror except by immersing him-/herself in an ever-proliferating sea of images? Even before his "proselytization," Gray allows himself to be photographed by the enigmatic Brita. As the subject of a photograph, he yearns to obtain power through inaccessibility: "The deeper I pass into death, the more powerful my picture becomes" [42] By retreating into the illuminated darkness of the image (like Pynchon, like Blanchot, like Salinger), the writer occupies a sacred space once reserved solely for godhood. Only when the subject is dead can its image have any meaning. If the subject is still alive, he gives himself the gift of death by permitting himself to be visualized. The photograph is the death mask of the author.

Dr. Joseph Suglia

4-0 out of 5 stars Seems better than I first thought
I probably would have given this two stars when I first read it upon publication, but as my awareness of the cult of personality has grown, so has my appreciation for this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars And thus we go widescreen
When I try to imagine a Delillo novel, this is the kind of thing that I envision, characters flitting through jagged set pieces like shadows, locations fraught with quivering meaning, dialogue that sounds like people talking each other and knowing that and not caring, and strings holding the pieces together so tightly and so finely that you'll have run right through before you realize you've even been cut.It's the most elusive of all of his novels, at its best when it's setting a mood and sketching out the picture, hinting that the full image may be too much for us to bear.Right from the start it sets the tone, with the mass wedding, a supposedly joyous event reduced to something mechanical and faceless, watched over with nothing more than a spiralling despair.The central focus of the novel is on reclusive writer Bill Gray, who has written well received literary fiction but like Thomas Pynchon stays out of sight.He spends most of his time endlessly tweaking a masterpiece that he really will never release and is eventually drawn out by a photographer and an offer to help out a hostage across the ocean.The plot doesn't so much move as seep, sliding from scene to scene with only bare connections, with each of the four main characters acting as ripples, and the scenes occuring when they hit each other.But the biggest ripple is Bill Gray, who acts as a rock hitting a placid lake, sending the lives of everyone else whirling out of whack simply by not being around, as everyone moves to close to hole or perhaps decide if a hole is even there.Meanwhile Gray enters a world where terrorism and mass media collide, globetrotting aimlessly of a quest that may be pointless, or perhaps worse.Delillo's writing is as sharp as ever here, each scene drawn tight, with barely a word wasted.All his usual tricks are here, but everything seems slightly more intense, even if the ultimate meaning of it all isn't exactly clear.Finding what connections there are, if any, requires more work than most of his novels, and as the characters dance about and circle and taunt each other, you may be wondering what the point of it all is.It's bleak, but in an illuminating fashion, and it seems possessed of its own internal logic.Like being immersed in a dark lake, you know you're inside but you don't know what you're even looking at.Strangely ignored out of his catalog, it has new resonance today, not simply because it deals with the facets of terrorism, but in showing how the different elements of a wider society can connect, in ways that we aren't even beginning to understand.

2-0 out of 5 stars No one actually thinks and talks like these characters
It took some doing to get through this novel.The main question that kept hitting me as I carefully read this book was: What kind of people actually think and speak in the kind of overdone, conflagration of semi-metaphysical adjectives that Delillo puts into his character's minds and mouths?The different threads of the story do not come together in the end, so there's a great sense of randomness in this novel.Further, Delillo repeats ideas, I assume, in order to make his point; but I felt a bit belittled intellectually by this.For example, in his brief section about how the crowds are going crazy trying to keep Khomeini's body out of the grave, Delillo keeps telling us over and over again what the purpose is for these people acting the way they do.It just seems like Delillo was trying too hard. ... Read more

11. Libra (Contemporary American Fiction)
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 480 Pages (1991-05-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140156046
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche. In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald’s odyssey from a troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. In his new introduction, DeLillo reexamines the evidence surroundingOswald’s role in the assassination as well as Oswald’s place in popular culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (78)

4-0 out of 5 stars Bad Citizenship, My Foot
Fictionalized accounts of historic events, particularly recent ones, make me suspicious.Any author might write a book set during an actual event, of course, but authors who set out to tell a tale about that same event give themselves a whole set of challenges that strike me as unnecessary at best.Just how fictionalized is the story to be?How closely must it stick to historical fact before it becomes nonfiction?What does the fictional element add - that is, why bother to fictionalize it at all?Why in the heck would anyone spend so much effort writing a story the ending of which is a foregone conclusion?And so on.

I haven't read enough of Don DeLillo's work to explain why, but there's something about him that leaves me unsurprised at his willingness to face this set of thorny problems.Whatever makes him more likely to tackle this style than others, "Libra" is one of the novels upon which his reputation rests.It explores the life of Lee Harvey Oswald on the one hand, and the supposed conspiracy to assassinate John Fitzgerald Kennedy on the other.Some of these story elements are factual, many are speculative.Most are spellbinding.I found myself reading the thing wondering if the conspiracy would succeed or not; I had to remind myself that the president would without fail die at the end, and so would the protagonist.DeLillo actually managed to retain some sense of mystery about his climax.That in itself makes this novel a success.

Which is not to say that everything about "Libra" is equally successful, of course.As the title implies, DeLillo evidently intended to tell his tale against a structure about balance and imbalance.To that end, he introduces a character named Nicholas Branch who spends his time with the millions of documents about the assassination - reading, watching, listening, digesting, and allegedly writing an official history of the event for the exclusive use of the CIA.Not at all a bad literary device, and occasionally even shocking; once in a while you run across a passage dealing with Branch and you remember with a gasp that the story you're reading is already over, that people have spent years trying to understand it and have failed.Works well with the balance/imbalance theme, but to my mind Branch doesn't appear often enough in the book to hold up his end, as it were.In other words, the Branch material works, but not the way DeLillo apparently wanted it to.

More successful is the back-and-forth between Oswald's life story, much of it taken from the historical record, and the developing conspiracy among old Agency operatives, almost all of it speculation.Much has been written as to why Kennedy died, of course; DeLillo takes on the notion that the real assassins were out to punish Kennedy for abandoning Cuba to the Communists, or maybe just recall America's attention to the issue by threatening the life of the president.Whether the events in "Libra" are fact or fiction, the author does a decent job linking them; plenty of novels try to do that with two separate plotlines and wind up telling two stories that never quite come together.In this case, DeLillo gives us conspirators who intend to invent a nonexistent man to blame the assassination on, and discover that their man has actually been right there the whole time.At which point Oswald finds himself participating in this conspiracy almost without realizing it.This lack of intention has something to do with his dyslexia, his years as a Russian defector, even his astrological sign.And thus DeLillo loses a certain amount of control over his materials.Still interesting to read, but again, not quite for the reasons DeLillo apparently intended.

And that's the big problem with "Libra", or any novel that deals with a historical event.As I said before, the question arises as to why one would want to deal with such an event fictionally."Libra" is a good read, raises good questions and possibilities, and sold pretty well, but I can't help feeling that people read it because they were interested in the Kennedy assassination, what the author calls "the seven minutes that broke the country's back".In other words, "Libra" is interesting not for its own sake, but more because of something outside the world of the book itself.It invites a certain lack of imagination; readers must judge it for how accurate they think it is, at least in part, rather than how much it touches them or makes them reconsider their world.Call me a purist, but that's not quite good enough for me.One star off.

Not more than that, however.Like all things Kennedy, "Libra" drew down enormous criticism from certain wings of American life.George Will, for instance, referred to it as a work of "literary vandalism and bad citizenship" because it speculates on matters that (according to Will and his kind, at least) have long since been disproved.I suppose that the "Oswald acted alone" side of the argument believes that any attention to conspiracy theories does a disservice to America as it tries to heal from the events of November 22, 1963.Maybe so, but if you ask me, DeLillo's book helped remove the aura of untouchability that surrounded those seven minutes.You can't move on from something you can't touch.So aside from its quality, however ambiguous, "Libra" actually does help us heal.

Benshlomo says, American history belongs to all Americans, and all Americans may come and play.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delillo Tackles American Obsession
This was not my first Delillo novel, I've read Mao II, Underworld and White Noise before this one, no particular reason to wait and read Libra. The non-linear plot and intensely descriptive sentences are an appeteizer for the Underworld entree...I've always been fascinated by the JFK assassination and this book was right in my wheelhouse. If you enjoy the author this book is a great read!

Definitely the best approach about the anti-communism fever in the U.S. but also the most truthful confession about all hard disillusionments -ideologies, religions, family, relations and relationships. As an author myself, I must admit I envied it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating take on the '60's
This was a very uneven book in my opinion. It's premise of course is that JFK's assassination was a vast conspiracy plot with many people playing out private agendas. The book delineated those agendas well: exploring/explaining each player's motivations. There was the mafia who resented RFK going after them and interfered with their business or was it just because JFK had an affair with Giancana's gumma? Jack Ruby was a bit player who'd worked with Giacona in Chicago and was in debt to mobsters who used him as a trigger to shut Oswald up. There were many covert government operatives but the main one didn't like JFK's selling out the Cuban rebels after during Bay of Pigs and he wanted to scare but not kill the president into renewing his efforts for the Cuban cause. There were the Cuban rebels themselves who were determined to wreak vengeance. And finally, of course, there was pathetic Oswald. The first half of this book felt disgustingly sympathetic to him with his single parent upbringing, moving all the time, learning disabilities, other kids bullying him, poverty but it started to level out when DeLillo describes Oswald's physical and mental abuse to his wife Marina. Oswald's thinking becomes more and more deranged. I'd forgotten he actually kills a policeman who attempts to detain him soon after shooting Kennedy. I really didn't want to like or even sympathize with Oswald but I did come away from the book with a clearer idea of what might have formed him.

3-0 out of 5 stars Libra
Libra (Contemporary American Fiction)by Don DeLillo

The book was recommended by a writer friend of mine who liked "Libra" very much. I usually do not read this genre, but wanted to give it a try. I didn't enjoy the read that much. Found the characters not engaging enough, the novel a bit disjointed. ... Read more

12. White Noise: Text and Criticism (Viking Critical Library)
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 560 Pages (1998-12-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$10.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140274987
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the National Book Award in 1985, White Noise is the story of Jack and Babette and their children from their six or so various marriages. They live in a college town where Jack is Professor of Hitler Studies (and conceals the fact that he does not speak a word of German), and Babette teaches posture and volunteers by reading from the tabloids to a group of elderly shut-ins. They are happy enough until a deadly toxic accident and Babette's addiction to an experimental drug make Jake question everything.White Noise is considered a postmodern classic and its unfolding of themes of consumerism, family and divorce, and technology as a deadly threat have attracted the attention of literary scholars since its publication. This Viking Critical Library edition, prepared by scholar Mark Osteen, is the only edition of White Noise that contains the entire text along with an extensive critical apparatus, including a critical introduction, selected essays on the author, the work and its themes, reviews, a chronology of DeLillo's life and work, a list of discussion topics, and a selected bibliography. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Its Good book
Its really very good book , I Thinkthe authorsuccess to enumerate his idea in his book .

5-0 out of 5 stars Noise & Entropy (without the Pynchon!)
have recently finished White Noise by Don Delillo. I was enthralled by this book; living it word by exact word. And yet, it flowed nicely. It was a comparatively easy read (as opposed to V.) that never bored me.

In spite of this book being written before the World Wide Web, which has only added to the swarm, the book's main focus is the topic of the information that we are bombarded with as we live our modern lives. From the narrator to his current wife and the children (his own and those brought in by marriage), we see the constant absorption of needless information; information that is derived from other people's panic, fears, superstition that when received is processed as matter-of-fact, almost apathetically. As it is shared it is passed along like gossip only to be argued against, mutated, and disenfranchised. This happens day-to-day within the narrator's family.

And then the Airborne Toxic Event (a very specific name for a very specific disasters whose cause and effects are very unspecific) occurs and the molestation and noise of information (founded and unfounded, though it is nearly impossible to decipher which is which) grows considerably as evacuation procedures are made. It is not exactly chaotic. Much more this is a group of people who live in a small college town who are addicted to the events seen and heard through television and radios: they have seen all the disasters of the world, thus the only new thing is that it is happening to them.

After the Airborne Toxic Event, the exploration of death takes place and is pondered on immensely by the lead character. In the end, a singular philosophy takes place: Are you the dier or the killer? (And yes, that is how "dier" is spelled in the novel.) And in spite of this singularity of thought, this "theory" of how we live as humans in this society, the narrator defeats it. He is neither dier nor killer: he just is.

I think the one aspect that I can draw from reading this is how prone we are to misinformation; and how we create our own tabloid within all that we witness and hear.

PS: This book is NOT a reader's guide. In the appendixes are a series of essays and observations made by critics and the like. This is not a reader's guide.

5-0 out of 5 stars good book...fast read
I liked this book!It was easy to connect with the characters.I was constantly wondering what was gonna happen next.

1-0 out of 5 stars None of these reviews review the text in question.
I don't want a review of "White Noise." That isn't the book that is being reviewed. The book in question is "The Readers Guide."

4-0 out of 5 stars Not light reading
Masterfully crafted novel. Expressive, satirical, explores postmodernity. Dark, confused story that's both enlightening and depressing. ... Read more

13. Players
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 224 Pages (1989-07-17)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.48
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Asin: 0679722939
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In Players DeLillo explores the dark side of contemporary affluence and its discontents. Pammy and Lyle Wynant are an attractive, modern couple who seem to have it all. Yet behind their "ideal" life is a lingering boredom and quiet desperation: their talk is mostly chatter, their sex life more a matter of obligatory "satisfaction" than pleasure. Then Lyle sees a man killed on the floor of the Stock Exchange and becomes involved with the terrorists responsible; Pammy leaves for Maine with a homosexual couple.... And still they remain untouched, "players" indifferent to the violence that surrounds them, and that they have helped to create.

Originally published in 1977 (before his National Book Award-winning White Noise and the recent blockbuster Underworld), Players is a fast-moving yet starkly drawn socially critical drama that demonstrates the razor-sharp prose and thematic density for which DeLillo is renown today.

"The wit, elegance and economy of Don DeLillo's art are equal to the bitter clarity of his perceptions."--New York Times Book Review ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

1-0 out of 5 stars dull and boring
I have read and greatly enjoyed Libra, White Noise, and Cosmopolis.
I didn't like though The Falling Man, somehow because I thought it lacked any plot or compelling story. Sure, it's the aftermath of 9/11, and few people could probably write it better than De Lillo, but, the story was just flat and uninteresting.
The same holds for Players. Sure, well written; but boring. I kept reading hoping it would lead somewhere. It doesn't. Don't waste your time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Untouched
I must admit that if this had been the only DeLillo novel I had read, now or in 1977 when it first came out, I would not have been enthusiastic. But to read it immediately after his most recent FALLING MAN is fascinating.

It is not merely the uncanny pre-echoes of the attack on the World Trade Center twenty-five years later. There are little things such as somebody saying in the midst of a gathering on a lower Manhattan rooftop: "That plane looks like it's going to hit." There are more fundamental matters such as the reflections of one of the main characters, Pammy, who works in the WTC for an organization called the Grief Management Council: "It was her original view that the World Trade Center was an unlikely headquarters for an outfit such as this. But she changed her mind as time passed. Where else would you stack all this grief? [...] To Pammy the towers didn't seem permanent. They remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light." And then there is the plot, one strand of which may (or may not) concern a terrorist plan to blow up the NYSE -- although the whole affair seems picayune and ill-organized as compared to what actually happened.

At a deeper level, the book is about the disengagement of otherwise successful individuals from the moral implications of their lives in society. The book begins with a brilliant image: a group of passengers in the piano bar in the first-class lounge of an airplane (they had those?), watching a scene of violence on a movie in the front cabin, sipping their cocktails while the pianist improvises an ironic keyboard commentary on the mayhem. There is no specific connection to the book that follows, except in theme, and that becomes all-pervasive, culminating in a similarly anesthetized set-piece at the end. The main characters are Pammy and her husband Lyle, a trader on the NYSE floor. They are well enough off, communicate with each other in bursts of jokey dialogue, and have effective sex. But their world has shrunk to almost nothing; Lyle, for example, spends hours switching TV channels at 30-second intervals, seeking distraction rather than content. Over the course of the book, each gets drawn (separately) into other lives, with serious or potentially serious consequences, but rather than being morally engaged, they remain spiritually with the cocktail sippers in the piano bar. Pages of this book are filled with dialogue so vapid as to be almost surreal; you could pick on these as examples of bad writing, but the vapidity, the verbal channel-flipping, is very much the point.

I now understand why DeLillo had to write FALLING MAN. The World Trade Center represented, in a way, the symbol of many of the attitudes that he dissects in PLAYERS. But if anything could shake people out of their roles as untouched spectators, it was surely this. When the characters in the later book exhibit patterns of minor obsession and larger detachment, I had thought that it was merely their protective reaction to an all-encompassing horror. After reading PLAYERS, I now see it more poignantly, as teetering on the balance beam between true responsibility and connection on the one hand, and, on the other, the state of anomie that DeLillo clearly finds endemic to modern life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking novel about utter boredom...
Of all his earlier novels, *Players* is the one that best anticipates the mature style of DeLillo's later masterworks. All the major themes and preoccupations are here, including foreshadowing of the topics that will become central to novels like *Libra,* *White Noise,* and *Mao II.* This makes *Players* an ideal place to start your discovery of this remarkable writer.

On the surface *Players* is a spare and simple story. Lyle and Pammy, an upwardly mobile New York City couple who've reached an interminable plateau in virtually every aspect of their lives, are bored. But this is no ordinary boredom. They are culturally, existentially, epically, mythologically, terminally bored. They're not sure how they got this way, they aren't even angry about it or with each other. There's no one or anything to really blame. They're still in love with each other, in fact. It's just that everything is so...well, empty somehow, so boring. What's even worse is that together, and separately, they don't know what to do about it. How do you go about *not* being bored in this day and age?

Pammy decides to take a vacation with a co-worker and his lover to Maine. Lyle, in the meantime, remains in Manhattan and becomes involved in a terrorist plot to plant a bomb in the New York Stock Exchange. These separate "vacations" from each other both end in violence and unexpected consequences, and yet, both Pammy and Lyle remain essentially unchanged, essentially still bored. If anything, they begin, especially in Lyle's case, to vanish altogether. For as Lyle becomes a "player" in the world of international terrorism and counter-terrorism he indiscriminately "plays" both sides, or, perhaps more accurately, all three, four, five, ten sides of the game and thereby loses himself in a state of complexity where he and you ((the reader)) begin to wonder if the most harrowing truth of all is that *no one* really understands the game they're playing, who's winning, or even who's side anyone is on.

What elevates *Players,* however, from a thought-provoking thriller to the level of a small masterpiece is the effect of DeLillo's precise and poetic prose--a laser-like instrument of an intellect you can't help to observe with awe as it cuts, exposes, and illuminates even ordinary experience to reveal malignant truths one may have felt or suspected, but never seen or been able to articulate before. Don DeLillo is the rare writer who makes other writers, me included, take up woodworking or suicide in despair. He's that good, *&#@ him!

5-0 out of 5 stars Delillo by the book
Either the print was really large in this book or I caught a second wind at some point over the weekend because I literally finished this book in a few hours.Generally Delillo books take me longer than that, since I have to slow down to make sure I absorb anything.In this case, it didn't seem as crucial.This time out, this early novel depicts a married couple (Pammy and Lyle) who are jaded by this crazy, post-modern world and just kind of float through it, doing whatever they want.Their narratives split off early on, with Lyle getting the more interesting plot of becoming tied up with a terrorist organization after seeing a man shot on the Stock Exchange floor . . . he seems to do it mostly out of boredom or vague interest and what strikes me as funny during it is how he seems to be playing triple agent, informing on the organization while telling the organization that he's talking to the authorities, and nobody seems to care either way.I don't know if it was meant to be funny but I found it hilarious.Meanwhile, Pammy gets relegated to the "B" plot, going up to Maine with a gay couple that she works with and basically exploring the nature of relationships, however Delillo seems to know that nobody really cares about this plot, as he devotes short chapters to it, while Lyle gets comparitively sprawling ones.Lyle seems to be the more compelling character, much like Updike's Rabbit, he gets a lot of mileage out of being a clueless jerk but a consistent and generally well-meaning one, even his dialogue where he sort of narrates himself ("What's going on, the guy said" is a paraphrased example) is used sparingly enough that's quirky, although when he and Pammy do it to each other it seems overtly cute.Otherwise, the scenes between the couple are well done, you get the sense that they do like each other, but it's all buried under the crushing ennui of the age.Delillo's ultimate point seems to be about how soul numbing modern life has become, that people like Pammy and Lyle can just do whatever they want and move through life without consequences because they just don't care (and while they seem oblivious to their own actions sometimes, they don't strike me as sociopaths) . . . Delillo gives us plenty of examples and his separation of the two of them is meant to juxtapose their situations and have us draw deeper meaning from said situations, but either he didn't give us reasons to connect them or I'm just dense.That goes for the whole book, I know there's a point in there somewhere but for the life of me, it's just out of my grasp.So can I recommend it?Sure, Delillo's writing is sharp as ever and generally most pages either have a scene or a line or two worth reading simply for the craft involved in putting the words together.To borrow a cliche, the man could novelize the phone book and at least make it interesting reading.And as I mentioned before, it's short.By the time you start to tire of it, it's over.Wouldn't it be better if everything was like that?

4-0 out of 5 stars Dust it off, then.
It's interesting to turn to early DeLillo and find that in more than a quarter of a century, the themes that drive his work are more contemporary than ever; as Diane Johnson wrote in the New York Times in 1977, "This elegant, highly finished novel does not shrink from suggesting the complicity of Americans with the terrorists they deplore". The complicity is not direct, even though one of the main characters does become directly enmeshed in a terrorist conspiracy the extent of which he is (and we, the readers, are) not fully cognizant. Rather, the complicity is systemic, terrorism the shadow of the bright waves of electronic capitalism, the anti-thesis, lying only as far away as the reverse side of a thin paper page. In this, as in the sparkling quality of his prose, he resembles Jean Baudrillard, French philosopher-provocateur; both quip and incant their way towards revealing alleged secret truths about the real sources of terror and violence, secrets of systems and alienation. This sort of language I think becomes tiring once you've read more than a few of DeLillo's novels -- he is forever talking about inner meanings, hidden truths, darkly wound secrets, et cetera. It isn't the ideas that are misplaced (contemporary novels are rightfully full of conspiracy), but the language; these are the only passages where DeLillo becomes literal rather than figurative, the only places where it seems DeLillo himself comes out from beneath the narrative guise. And to say he doesn't need to is to credit the complete remainder of the text -- it races, clean and honed, from page to page, reading as quickly as ads flashing past on a subway. And as Players unwinds, it nails modern malaise and restlessness, diagnosing the moral disengagement that hasn't stemmed since it was written, and is caustically funny in a way which no-one else I have read can match. I found myself, on finishing, talking to people in the same obscure one-liners used by his characters (of course, he doesn't do character, really; that is part of the diagnosis). The whole thing is pitch-perfect and prescient; he should be compulsory. ... Read more

14. Cosmopolis: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-03-30)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.42
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743244257
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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It is an April day in the year 2000 and an era is about to end. The booming times of market optimism -- when the culture boiled with money and corporations seemed more vital and influential than governments -- are poised to crash. Eric Packer, a billionaire asset manager at age twenty-eight, emerges from his penthouse triplex and settles into his lavishly customized white stretch limousine. Today he is a man with two missions: to pursue a cataclysmic bet against the yen and to get a haircut across town. Stalled in traffic by a presidential motorcade, a music idol's funeral, and a violent political demonstration, Eric receives a string of visitors -- experts on security, technology, currency, finance, and a few sexual partners -- as the limo sputters toward an increasingly uncertain future.

Cosmopolis, Don DeLillo's thirteenth novel, is both intimate and global, a vivid and moving account of the spectacular downfall of one man, and of an era. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (79)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Don's Best
Cosmopolis reads like classic DeLillo, but feels more like a sketch than a novel or even a novella. Structurally it resembles some of Delillo's fuller novels like Mao II and Falling Man, with many enjoyable scenes or sections, and it's plot has lots of potential; it just doesn't follow through with any of it. It's almost like he outlined where he wanted the novel to go, gave it a quick literary once-over, and then got bored and just stopped writing. I guess the publishers dug it enough, or just dug DeLillo's name enough, to put this thing out there as is, seemingly unfinished (ie. not unresolved; the plot follows through, it just lacks heft). There probably wasn't too much editing involved unless the editor was a major sadist 'cause this book reads like is was skinned alive.

3-0 out of 5 stars A day in the Lilliputian life of a Master of the Universe
"Cosmopolis" depicts, from dawn to dawn, a single day in the life of one of Wall Street's self-anointed Masters of the Universe. Currency trader Eric Packer, forewarned with vague ("status urgent") rumors of assassins and threatened more ominously by his own crisis of faith, steps into his white limousine and decides that he wants to get a haircut on the other side of town. Within the miles of street life between the East and Hudson rivers, Eric is waylaid by several women (including his new wife, whom he barely knows), by pastry-throwing and rat-hurling attention seekers, by the lures of a quiet bookstore and a deafening techno-rave, by a choreographed riot bordering on street theater (or vice versa), by a funeral procession and a presidential visit, and by traffic--lots and lots of traffic.

On the one hand, I found myself completely sucked into the idea of Eric's journey: the mocking absurdity of his 24-hour trek from one side of midtown Manhattan to the other, simply to get a haircut and to find the meaning of life; the comic ludicrousness of his adventures; the unexpected and random brutality of the final chapters. There are scenes that stop just short of dazzling in their acidic humor, like Eric's proctology exam conducted inside the limousine while he faces his financial adviser, sweaty from her morning jog. And things become weirdly poignant (almost) when Eric whimsically joins his wife amidst dozens of nude extras lying on the street for the filming of a movie.

On the other hand, the novel seems to beg the reader for relevance; it's as if DeLillo went into a coma during the Sixties and, lately emerged, can't begin to comprehend the excess and the nonsense of modern America. Like the novel's billionaire protagonist waging his fortune against the rise of the yen, DeLillo bets that his readers will know virtually nothing about financial markets or how they work or who works them. As a result, the post-nihilistic, New Age dialogue is peppered with meaningless word clouds salvaged from a day's viewing of CNBC. "Don't trust standard models. Think outside the limits. The yen is making a statement. Read it. Then leap," says the Master to an analyst with "advanced degrees in mathematics and economics"--who for some reason doesn't slap Eric for insulting his intelligence (and ours). Stuff like this has neither the plausibility of market-talk nor the incisiveness of parody.

Eric Packer's self-constructed existence as a Master of the Universe is largely beside the point, anyway; the satire is so broad (capitalists and their hubris, youth and their short attention spans, technology and its impersonal ubiquity, the urban jungle and its hazards) that DeLillo might just as well have made his antihero an overpaid baseball player, a corrupt politician, or a music mogul--any of whom are far more likely to be caught dead in a white limousine in the first place. At the end of "Cosmopolis," we are, I suppose, expected to fathom the emptiness of Eric's life ("The things that made him who he was could hardly be identified much less converted to data"), but DeLillo has created not a man but a cipher that not even he, its creator, seems to understand.

1-0 out of 5 stars Painfully self-consciously aesthetic novella
This read like some sort of bizarre cross between DeLillo's usual affectless style and some awestruck lifestyle piece from GQ, or the more vapid passages of later Tom Wolfe (Man in Full and so forth). The structure and style reflect DeLillo's sparse elegance, but - and one wonders whether this was an attempt at something with broader audience appeal or potential for film adaptation - they and the author struggle to engage with a contrived and clearly unfamiliar world.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Death of Capitalism
I take Packer as a stand-in for capitalism gone wild and savage. There was a line in there somewhere about how the logical conclusion of capitalism is killing. Packer's rapacious and deliberate murder of the world's currencies in one day's time leads him logically to seek the assassin who's been stalking him (a former employee). The two wax philosophically about each other's personality deficits, a bumbling last rites.

3-0 out of 5 stars not DeLillo's best
I loved White Noise and Great Jones Street, so I expected to enjoy Cosmopolis.Although it had some moments of brilliance, the protagonist of this work lacked authenticity, thus the work as a whole failed to capture my interest.If you must read every work by DeLillo, pick it up, but otherwise, you can skip this one. ... Read more

15. The Body Artist: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 128 Pages (2002-01-08)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$0.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743203968
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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For thirty years, since the publication of his first novel, Americana, Don DeLillo has lived in the skin of our times. He has found a voice for the forgotten souls who haunt the fringes of our culture and for its larger-than-life, real-life figures. His language is defiantly, radiantly American.

Now, to a new century, he has brought The Body Artist. In this spare, seductive novel, he inhabits the muted world of Lauren Hartke, an artist whose work defies the limits of the body. Lauren is living on a lonely coast in a rambling rented house, where she encounters a strange, ageless man, a man with uncanny knowledge of her own life. Together they begin a journey into the wilderness of time -- time, love, and human perception. The Body Artist is a haunting, beautiful, and profoundly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time.Amazon.com Review
Don DeLillo's reputation rests on a series of large-canvas novels, in which he's proven to be the foremost diagnostician of our national psyche. InThe Body Artist, however, he sacrifices breadth for depth, narrowinghis focus to a single life, a single death. The protagonist is LaurenHartke, who we see sharing breakfast with her husband, Rey, in the openingpages. This 18-page sequence is a tour de force (albeit a less showy onethan the author's initial salvo in Underworld)--an intricate,funny notation of Lauren's consciousness as she pours cereal, peers out thewindow, and makes idle chat. Rey, alas, will proceed directly from thebreakfast table to the home of his former wife, where he'll unceremoniouslyblow his brains out.

What follows is one of the strangest ghost stories since The Turn of the Screw. Andlike James's tale, it seems to partake of at least seven kinds ofambiguity, leaving the reader to sort out its riddles. Returning to theirsummer rental after Rey's funeral, Lauren discovers a strange stowawayliving in a spare room: an inarticulate young man, perhaps retarded, whomay have been there for weeks. His very presence is hard for her to pindown: "There was something elusive in his aspect, moment to moment, athinning of physical address." Yet soon this mysterious figure begins tospeak in Rey's voice, and her own, playing back entire conversations fromthe days preceding the suicide. Has Lauren's husband been reincarnated? Oris the man simply an eavesdropping idiot savant, reproducing sentences he'dheard earlier from his concealment?

DeLillo refuses any definitive answer. Instead he lets Lauren steep in hergrief and growing puzzlement, and speculates in his own voice about thisapparent intersection of past and present, life and death. At times hisrhetoric gets away from him, an odd thing for such a superbly controlledwriter. "How could such a surplus of vulnerability find itself alone in theworld?" he asks, sounding as though he's discussing a sick puppy. AndLauren's performances--for she is the body artist of the title--soundpretty awful, the kind of thing Artaud might have cooked up for an aerobicsclass. Still, when DeLillo reins in the abstractions and bears down, theresults are heartbreaking:

Why shouldn't the death of a person you love bring you into lurid ruin? Youdon't know how to love the ones you love until they disappear abruptly.Then you understand how thinly distanced from their suffering, how sparingof self you often were, only rarely unguarded of heart, working yournetworks of give-and-take.
At this stage of his career, a thin book is an adventure for DeLillo. So ishis willingness to risk sentimentality, to immerse us in personal ratherthan national traumas. For all its flaws, then, The Body Artist is areal, raw accomplishment, and a reminder that bigger, even for so capaciousan imagination as DeLillo's, isn't always better. --JamesMarcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (117)

1-0 out of 5 stars Take A Nap Instead
In a moment of self-inflicted irony, Don DeLilo opens Chapter 4 of The Body Artist with "All these words are wrong". It happens to be the best sentence in the book because The Body Artist is as disappointing as getting home with an Academy Award-winning movie only to discover that it won't play - and your beer is warm too.

This book poses as a short introduction to the work of a decorated, artistically accessible American novelist. Reading it, though, is like trying to sleep in a short-sheeted bed. Four sentences into the first paragraph you find the most beautiful and comfortable sentence imaginable: "You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness." Then it gets uncomfortable and, ultimately, enraging.

Don't bother reading this book. Take a long nap instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars a taste of DeLillo
This slim enigmatic novel provides a way to get a taste for DeLillo's writing without investing too much time. The first chapter is just about a couple's thoughts during breakfast, but it's more like two soliloquies, and it's my favorite section of the book. Actually, it's more like each person is having a dialogue with him or herself. Then Lauren's husband commits suicide at this ex-wife's house, to "spare Lauren the mess," and the book gets somewhat cryptic. A little man appears in the house who nonsensically parrots conversations, both past and future. How long has he been there? Is he real or a figment of Lauren's imagination that stems from her grief? Lauren is a chameleon herself--a performer who seemingly changes her gender and size on stage. The author switches to second person narration for descriptions of universal activities, such as recognizing the sound of a paperclip hitting the floor. White Noise was a much more straightforward book, and its discussion between father and son about how to know if it's raining is priceless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interestingly Bizarre
This book is slow, dreamy, surreal, and very strange.None of the characters seem normal, and this is evident from the very first page or two.The body artist character isn't a tattoo artist like I had assumed, but a performance artist and contortionist. The theme is mainly about dealing with grief, although the way the character does this isn't something that would be possible in real life, so you can't say it is a life lesson.

It's definitely not an exciting book, either - not much happens once you get past the second chapter.

But it's worth reading for a couple of reasons -especially for its sheer creativity:like nothing else you've ever read before, this definitely makes for an interesting change.And also because it's very short, a novella really.The slowness that would be a major drag in a longer book is not a problem in this one.

(124 pages)

2-0 out of 5 stars Pretentious and self-indulgent, like the body artist herself
As a reader of literary novels, I can tolerate a certain amount of self-indulgence. However, this book takes the cake. Weirdness, I can handle. And indeed, the narrative voice is powerful and engaging, at least for the first two-thirds of the book. But at some point, I really wanted something to happen in reality, not just in the body artist's warped mind. "Aimless," used by the critic above to describe the book, is appropriate. The narrative feels aimless, the story feels aimless, which is often the case with literary novels, but the reason you keep reading is because it eventually leads somewhere that's at the very least interesting. This story is like a perversion of circular logic, and I'm not so sure that even DeLillo ultimately knows where he wanted it to go or even where it ended up. I've always believed that reading even bad books is never a waste of time because you can always learn something new about the craft. But by the time I'd finished this novella, I was questioning that belief.

2-0 out of 5 stars Ew.
I am not a huge DeLillo fan, so perhaps my opinion doesn't matter a whole lot... that being said, I do think "White Noise" is perhaps the greatest novel written about America and modern life (and "Cosmopolis" was not bad either... very Breat Easton Ellis-ish to me).But in general, this guy is so darn dramatic and pretentious in his prose that I find it difficult to understand the charm (I thought "Underworld" is one of the most overrated and absurd novels ever written... James Joyce this dude is not).

"The Body Artist" is pretentious, and in my mind just plain bad writing.He's trying too hard to write in a style he's never done before.I LOVE weird, quiet, existential novels so this is not why I dislike the book.I think if it were written by someone else, I'd love it... the meditation on time, loss, and art could have been interesting and thought provoking, but this was just half-baked garbage.
Many reviewers here disliked the book because they don't like this kind of plotless, spare writing. I don't think that's a good reason to write a bad review as it's like saying you hate Pollock because you hate abstract art--so what?What I'm saying, instead, is that this is bad for those of us who DO love this kind of writing.This simply wasn't written by someone who has a mastery over this style and therein lies the disappointment.
I don't think the dialogue works, he's trying too hard to have a certain style and it doesn't come off as natural or interesting (if he wasn't going for natural).Also, the chapters that give us some background info the narrative otherwise could not have given us (the obituary and art review) is a cheap way out. We don't really need to know her husband, that's not the focus of the novel.Too much background info that muddles the piece. He can't commit to a truly strange style he's not willing to go all the wayand because of that the structure of "Body Artist" seems strained, like it's trying to be weird but can't get as weird as it needs to be.DeLillo perhaps needs more time to work on this kind of writing...for instance,I love writers use 2nd person, but this is really hard to pull off, and again, DeLillo just doesn't seem to know what he's doing here. I applaud him for trying something new, but this book did not merit publication.

DeLillodid manage to write one brilliant piece that I love, and because of that I am always hopeful that he will write another great work.But so far no dice." The Body Artist" simply tries too hard to be profound and elusive, and I think a careful reader will see through his game. ... Read more

16. Approaches to Teaching Delillo's White Noise (Approaches to Teaching World Literature)
Paperback: 240 Pages (2006-01-31)
list price: US$19.75 -- used & new: US$14.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873529197
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17. Ratner's Star
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 448 Pages (1989-07-17)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679722920
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
One of DeLillo's first novels, Ratner's Starfollows Billy, the genius adolescent, who is recruited to live in obscurity, underground, as he tries to help a panel of estranged, demented, and yet lovable scientists communicate with beings from outer space. It is a mix of quirky humor, science, mathematical theories, as well as the complex emotional distance and sadness people feel. Ratner's Star demonstrates both the thematic and prosaic muscularity that typifies DeLillo's later and more recent works, like The Names (which is also available in Vintage Contemporaries). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Firm Demonstration
The novel is a thing of great power and beauty, not limited to the works that populate the "best seller" list. Unfortunately, in America, we have been conditioned to expect instant gratification and understanding, whereas truly great works of art require the attention and concentration of a great reader.

Ratner's Star is, according to Mr. Delillo himself, his favorite of all his novels. The reason for this, I can only imagine, is a true sense of pride in having finished it and accomplished something so dense and difficult...and difficult it is. This is not easy reading. The language is a conglomeration of mathematics and science, of speculation and spiritual dimension.

This is a novel by a relatively "new" writer (at the time) wishing to flex his intellectual muscles and perhaps prove to the world at large that he is a voice to be reckoned with in the future of American writing. Cormac Mccarthy also did this with his incredible novel "Suttree."

Many reviews I read seem to expect something from a novel: a very specific and easy to understand plot, wonderful characters, and maybe even some twists and turns. But true literaturechallenges the reader to step beyond these confines and give himself over to ideas and turns of phrase. This novel is like a dream in which all is understood while in the midst of it, step away for too long and you will lose all sense of time and place.

Of course, anyone reading Delillo is already aware of how he writes, his work is not tailor made for the ADD generation. His work takes time and patience to appreciate, just like great paintings hanging in a museum, to truly recognize the genius at work you can't just walk through the room. You have to stand there, motionless, and study the brush strokes, the amount of skill and effort that went into creating what you're looking at. For this reason alone Ratner's Star stands out and above, a novel of vast ideas and ingenious philosophy. It is a firm demonstartion of Mr. Delillo's power with words and his grasp on what a novel was meant to be...a tool to shape modern thought through one means or another. Granted, they are just words on a page, but they are also so much more than that, just like a sunset is much more than colors in the sky.

5-0 out of 5 stars Some wild ride...
As others have noted, RS is a novel of language and ideas, less so (far far less so) a novel of characters and plotting.It is a brilliant meditation -- on mankind, modernity, and science.It is also, in a word, exhausting.The first half of RS (divided in numbered chapters) was rich in the extreme -- quirky, funny (hilariously so at times), incisive.The second half (divided in unnumbered 'chapters') was rich in a different way: a prose poem-like gloss/continuation of the first half, so laden with non-sequiturs and misdirection as to make it very difficult to follow at times, but compelling all the same.I could happily have read several 'halves' like the first.After awhile I grew rather tired of the second.Nonetheless, RS richly merits its 5 stars.It is one of the oddest pieces of writing I've ever read; high praise!

4-0 out of 5 stars Don Dellilo on Mathematics
In this strange book Don Dellilo's focuses his literary skills to the bizar world of mathematical geniuses and ultimately ends up demonstrating why mathematics is only as correct as logic allows it to be. The book centers around the genius kid, Billy, who enjoys phenomenal gifts in Mathematics and a suspicious relationship to elderly persons whom he continuously accuse of all sorts grossness.

Billy is invited to participate in a top secret research project where he encounters a fascinating array of persons; including the brilliant mathematician Endor, who have chosen to live in a hole after his attempt on cracking a extraterrestial code and the enigmatic Mohole, with his flimsy theory on Moholean relativity and garage sale of "vintage art films" such as "Aunt Polly's Banana Surprise" and "What the Butler Did".

As a mathematician myself I find this book a a fantastic achievement. It's certainly the only book I have ever read that is full of wit and slapstick, while centering around the strange world of modern mathematics. The book is stuffed with brilliant prose and a insane character gallery, but is still not without flaws, mainly that it contains to many wasted side stories that does nothing for the plot. So if you are looking for a introduction to Don Delillo I suggest you go elsewhere (like Libra or White Noise). The avid Delillo fan or math lover will however find this book a fascinating and enormously ambitious achievement.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's science!But not really, or at least not how you think
Early Delillo novels aren't exactly honed affairs.I mean, all the elements are there but the sharpness of his vision wasn't quite in place at the beginning, so you get good ideas and great prose and it doesn't really come together into anything awe-inspiring, even if it reads well and it still way smarter than most other books.Ratner's Star is probably the first one to really feel complete, even if it's not all the way there just yet.Its vastly more esoteric than his other novels, while it deals with the same themes of alienation and loneliness that normally characterizes his work, here he always throw in a bunch of high theory science just to make things more interesting.The plot of the book involves a bunch of scientists working on trying to decipher a message from a distant star.To help, they bring in a child genius, Billy, who has won the Nobel Prize in mathematics.From there he spends the rest of his time bouncing the various eccentric characters off each other and letting them interact over the course of the book.A lot of time people are throwing extremely complex sounding theories back and forth, which may or may not be actual theories (they sound good but I'm not a mathematician, and I have no idea how much research he did for this), some of which are actually useful and some just reflect the personalities of the people coming up with them.As it goes along Billy eventually winds up working on some other project deep in isolation with an even odder group of scientists.If you were reading them chronologically (which I'm not but bear with me) this is the first book that really "feels" like Delillo, it's exploring themes but also trying to puzzle through what all the chatting means, so it feels a bit more focused, instead of vamping on a topic until it reaches the end.The characters don't ever feel totally three dimensional, because they are wacky scientists but he imbues them with enough so that they aren't total stereotypes.The point of it seems to be that the more you know the less you understand, as if you have a whole bunch of people who can't at all relate to each other or the real world.The science project itself is just an excuse to get everything together and bounce them off each other, and the ending basically reflects that.His prose is sharper here, without showing off, keeping what could be an utterly boring story moving along nicely, never getting bogged down in all the science, but not skimping on it either.There are a few passages that are downright brilliant in composition.And when he gets a little experimental toward the end, it feels right, in the sense its a culmination of what's gone before and not "well I feel like doing this now."That said, the book didn't blow me away, but it was surprisingly readable and entertaining given the subject matter.In a way it also pointed toward what was to come in later novels.Probably the first sign that he might be able to hit a stride, and stick with it.

3-0 out of 5 stars not DeLillo's best undertaking
I must admit that this book, even after two stabs at it, didn't thrill me the way other DeLillo novels can, and I did feel as though I were reading something more by Thomas Pynchon.Many of DeLillo's finest work seems to work on the exploration and twisting of its own metaphor, but filtered through extraordinary but still accessible characters, people who feel both rooted in and confused by the complexities of the world behind them._Ratner's Star_ seems to want to delve in such a way, but through a situation far more absurdist.

Billy Twilling is a young math Nobel laureate who is pulled into a think tank that bombards him on all sides with eccentrics, from fellow mathematicians to the custodians.Yet many of these characters become redundant through their lack of introduction and propensity for monologue.Many moments of the book read like Kafka and Michio Kaku co-writing an episode of _Dragnet_.Twilling's main job is to decipher a coded message received from outer space, but of course his progress is hindered and his job outright disregarded by many in Field Experiment One.Eventually, the book breaks down in plotline and form itself when Twilling is pulled underground into a new project that is off the charts.

There are many delights in this book--Twilling himself is a wonderfully concise and hilariously unhumorous boy.DeLillo shows his skill at even comic timing on the page.The scenes with a mathematic precurser who has banished himself to a hole in the ground and the meeting of the esteemed Ratner himself during a torch ceremony are wonderful, yet I didn't find the book as a whole challenging with its exploration of metaphor as DeLillo does in later books.There is a wide expanse of characters, but the ecentricities become the focus of the book, not the crucial ideas, and the eccentricities become a little formulaic at times, even in their seeming randomness.
... Read more

18. Underwords: Perspectives on Don Delillo's Underworld
 Hardcover: 219 Pages (2002-10)
list price: US$39.50 -- used & new: US$38.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0874137853
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19. The Day Room.
by Don DeLillo
Paperback: 55 Pages (1998-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$7.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822202786
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"The Day Room", Don DeLillo's first play, is a black comedy that explores the chaos caused when the onlooker is unsure of the status of a team of medics in a psychiatric unit. Are they really bona fide staff or patients just pretending to be? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read, But
This was an enjoyable, quick read, and as always with plays, is better left to watch the stage version. Though I was initially pleased with the ending, and the story stayed with me, I still wonder about the point of it, what the message way.

Still, I enjoyed the writing and reading the play.

4-0 out of 5 stars DeLillo never disappoints
Don DeLillo is a consumate master of the written word, be it novel or play."THe Day Room" is an hilarious exploration of an existential dilemma:What is real and who can I trust?What determines the normal and sane?The health care setting is particularly apt.I recommend this and everything DeLillo has written.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Day Room has it's good moments, but ultimately is a bit random
This play is definitely an interesting read, but I can't see how it would play out on the stage when the audience can't read the stage instructions (like letting you know that a guy in a straight-jacket is the TV, and other such low-rent "quirks" that this script has).

The Day Room definitely raises interesting questions about what is real and what is an illusion. The circular ending really saves the entire play, but it can't make up for 111 pages of confusion before that. While trying to build up to the shocking and consciousness-raising ending, the play sputters for a while in pseudo-intellectualism and leaves the reader wanting at least a little clarification to hang their hat on. Some randomness is beautiful, too much leaves nothing solid to hold the randomness up, and throws the reader off.

Delillo's style is reminiscient of Beckett and other experimental minimalists. There's not a typical plot, with a character arc to follow. There are hospital patients, and hospital workers, and the audience never really knows who's who or what's going to happen next. At times this is exciting, but at other times it separates the reader from the story.

There are some very good monologues sprinkled throughout the play, both in Act I and Act II, but sometimes long-winded monologues can get boring and slow a show down on stage. And if you're looking for good monologues, look somewhere besides a long-winded production set in a psychiatric ward.

5-0 out of 5 stars i saw god
This is one of the better books ive read. Buy it, read it and lend it to a friend.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Interesting, quirky play
We did this play in my high school dramatic production class.It is an interesting view on the meaning of reality versus illusion.Although a bit convoluted in parts, it is worth a read if you are into that sort of thing ... Read more

20. Pafko at the Wall: A Novella
by Don DeLillo
Kindle Edition: 96 Pages (2008-06-30)
list price: US$11.99
Asin: B001D1YCYA
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"There's a long drive.

It's gonna be.

I believe.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant."

-- Russ Hodges, October 3, 1951

On the fiftieth anniversary of "The Shot Heard Round the World," Don DeLillo reassembles in fiction the larger-than-life characters who on October 3, 1951, witnessed Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jackie Gleason is razzing Toots Shor in Leo Durocher's box seats; J. Edgar Hoover, basking in Sinatra's celebrity, is about to be told that the Russians have tested an atomic bomb; and Russ Hodges, raw-throated and excitable, announces the game -- the Giants and the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds in New York. DeLillo's transcendent account of one of the iconic events of the twentieth century is a masterpiece of American sportswriting. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

1-0 out of 5 stars Pafko at the Wall
I never got the book so how would I know. Needed it for a college class and ended up having to buy underworld at a different store. Thanks for nothing!

1-0 out of 5 stars Pafko at the wall
I do not like baseball so this was boring and it was very hard for me to stay interested to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is how to write a book
Who cares about Underworld? I didn't go near it. Separating this classic from that tome was the best marketing move anyone's ever done.This book should be in the public domain anyway. Imagine taking a baseball game, exploding it into one of the world's greatest historical events as seen from various characters' points of view, and at the same time encapsulating the dawning of a new moment in world history. Every sentence is sharp and detailed, anticipating the next. And then when Thomson hits the home run, Delillo freeze frames each second like you're in a car crash, making sure you're aware of everything that's going on. It's one of the best books ever written.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Brilliant & Breathtaking Novel Opening Ever
And I really believe that.This is the opening section of *Underworld* (1997), and it originally appeared in Harpers--so, when I saw it in stores, I thought "why re-release this as a BOOK?"

Then, I read it.It stands on its own as a novella--and it's not *just* about baseball, either, so don't let that mislead you or put you off.It's about *everything*.Maybe you don't wish to read the lengthy *Underworld* (though the themes and characters and plotlines here run through the entire novel)--but at LEAST read THIS.

And while I own the novel, I'm pleased to own this, too--and if you like DeLillo and wish to turn others on to his work, this is what you give them.I've given copies to several people, and use this brilliant work in my "Writing a Novella" Creative Writing class.I don't test the students, or ask them to try to emulate the work--I just ask them to read it.

Their jaws drop open every time, just as mine did--and does.

4-0 out of 5 stars DeLillo for non-fans
First things first - this is a brilliantly-evoked account of the Giants/Dodgers playoff game that ended with the "Shot Heard Round the World".It is also the opening section of DeLillo's novel Underworld.Like most of the other reviewers of this book, my main beef is "Why should one bother to buy this extract?"In context, this is only the beginning of a long exploration of American history in the 50 years that separate us from that game - particularly the Cold War, which could be said to begin on that day with news of the Soviet Union's atomic test reaching the US.The historic baseball goes weaving from hand to hand binding the stories together.If you're a DeLillo fan, then, don't buy it for yourself.If you want a taster of his work, perhaps buy it as an entry-level sample but be prepared to fork out for it all over again if you decide you need to read the full novel.Best of all, buy it as a gift for someone who's unlikely to be a DeLillo reader, now or in future, but is a fan of baseball and/of 50s Americana.It's great stuff, but its appeal in this format is just pretty limited. ... Read more

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