Is he still worth reading in 2016? I've only read pic related and found the subject matter to be very dated. Underworld is, apparently, one of the greatest novels of the post-modern era. Worth the time or are we past it?
Well, not completely dated. I still very much appreciated the themes of alienation from one's peers and isolation from one's "real" life. But the whole "academia is masturbatory" idea seemed a bit warmed-over by the 21st century.
As far as White Noise is concerned, Delillo was spot on with where the world was headed - anxiety over terrorism, the decline of social skills for modern America, suburbia as a kind of purgatory, etc. That's what I got from it, at least. So many authors (and other artists for that matter) borrowed so heavily from what he was putting down that, by the time I read him, it wasn't original anymore. And I'm concerned that I'll have a similar feeling when tackling his later works.
I'm a third of the way through IJ at the moment and I keep thinking, "This is good, but Underworld is better." (Referring to trying to capture the undercurrents of contemporary America in a profound yet entertaining way). So yeah, I say read Underworld.
Would you say they are similar? That is, IJ and Underworld. What's great about Underworld?
I just finished White Noise a few days ago, and absolutely loved it. First DeLillo I've read. Your post made me curious about Underworld. Would you say it's a good next choice when it comes to DeLillo, or should I familiarize myself with his other works beforehand?
>His indictment of consumerism aged horribly though
A bit of a digression: this is one reason why I think the charge against David Foster Wallace of derivativeness doesn't hold much water ultimately. Things like pointing out the problems of consumerism still need to be said, now maybe more than ever, and said in ways that resonate with people today. Even if something's been said before, it merits saying again if it's still relevant. And I think Wallace's treatment of the subject (in IJ or 'Ex Unibus Pluram' say) is still fresh (but can maybe use a tune-up soon, the latter piece in particular).
Interesting, thanks. I think I'll check out Libra beforehand, then tackle Underworld.
A week for a +800 books is pretty quick. It's not particularly dense then? I finished Infinite Jest just a few weeks ago, and have been a bit wary of beginning a behemoth-book again, as it took a long, long time to plow through IJ. Worth it but fatigued me.
DeLillo is probably the most enduringly relevant American writer alive. White Noise, Mao II and The Names are masterpieces. Underworld is a bit ponderous and "insists upon itself" in my view. Seemed like a very telegraphed attempt at a Great American Novel. His style is almost unrecognisable even on a syntactical level.
It's one of those horrible things where you look around at all the other anons in the playground and you see that they're holding lumps of shit in their hands. They're comparing their lumps of shit, talking animatedly about how great their lumps of shit are; the few anons who have still not held a lump of shit in their shit-virgin hands are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to do so. The anons think the lumps of shit they're holding are nuggets of gold. And it's so terrible because the shit they are holding prevents them from holding other, better, things. I keep trying to tell the anon-kuns,
>That's not gold anon, stop with the messing around. You know you're holding a lump of shit. Please anon.
But they always come back with the same retorts.
>go back to reddit fag
>god is it summer already
>you just don't get it, back to HoL, fanboy
There are so many of them in the playground and they get so angry with me, my brave dissenting voice - "contrarian" - it begins as a whisper in the crowd but it catches. Soon it's spreading across anon, taking on a meme like nature, until all the anon-chan are chanting the word at me. By this point I'm crying, my back against the wall, my feet scrabbling against the astroturf. The crowd of anons move closer, moving as a single organism. I notice many of them have their cocks in their hands. The organism thrums and throbs, it envelops me completely. I close my eyes and continue to weep as everything fades to black.
Btw White noise is shit desu.
Nope, I think it's a novel with something to say about contemporary America, if only the writing wasn't dry, boring and emotionless.
>hurr that's the point anon
I don't care, the book is fucking boring.
The way he portrayed mass media and its effects are more relevant than ever. Nothing really deals with the way we're constantly inundated with messages that blend together into a chaotic soup of meanings and associations the way white noise does expect maybe Finnegans Wake but that was Joyce trying to portray the subconscious rather than a cultural commentary.
How do you judge how "interesting" a person is? Tom Brady is interesting to people who like sports. Terence McKenna is interesting to people who like psychedelics. "Interesting" is determined solely by personal preference.
Yes, and this is where you hit me with the highly relevant points you think this book made. It's called a discussion board.
A book like this is nothing more than a disguised essay. It lives and dies by the points it makes. Writers like Delillo and DFW forget to make a point, which is probably why the latter was so concerned about being seen as a fraud.
That was a very verbose and circumstantial way of saying "the things I like are better than the things you like and therefore I am smarter".
Tell me what's wrong with White Noise. Bonus points if you avoid lengthy diatribes about playgrounds and shit.
I haven't read the book so I have no idea what relevant points it makes. As you said, this is a discussion board, and I'm pointing out that subjective statements should be recognized as such, and that discussion won't succeed if opinions are stated as truths
I like that you referenced DFW close to the phrase "disguised essay," because I feel like that's a term I enjoy using to describe his work as well
I'd only argue, from my limited personal experience (which is about 700 pages of IJ and half of The Girl with Curious Hair) that DFW never forgets to make a point -- just the opposite, in which he elaborates his themes (mainly through his dialogue between characters, and is portrayal of certain characters that paints them as symbols and metaphors more than characters) so extensively it can be jarring to some readers
I will say that his work seems cartoon-y and exaggerated to me, so that a lot of his humor doesn't feel like humor, but more like jokes, the equivalent of a literary Family Guy where all the funny parts are non sequiturs that don't contribute to the overall meaning, and in this sense I can see how you could construe that as him forgetting to make a point
I say this in every White Noise thread but... maybe wait a few years and read it again. I read the book when I was 20 and I thought it was pretty boring. It was like, aha, I get it, modern life. Then I reread it a few years later and I got it. I'd read a few more DeLillo books since then. There's something insightful or hilarious on every page, and if you don't find the themes relevant, at least enjoy the pitch-perfect line-by-line prose.
If something has a point (a GOOD point), you can put that shit in big, capital letters. A point so full of Truth that you don't need more than one sentence for it to be recognized. Maybe two if it's super complicated.
"Our culture is full of superfluous information" is not a good point. It's the first half of what might be a good point. "Our culture is growing more adept at distracting us" is the first half of what might be a good point- and worthy of being the entire theme of a 900 page novel.
Then again, brevity is like poison to humanities academia. So maybe I'm dumb for expecting anything different.
I always thought art's role wasn't to create new truths, but to describe them effectively. Take Anne Beattie's Chilly Scenes of Winter, which is about a guy who got dumped and is now living in stagnancy -- this is hardly a profound, breakthrough concept that teaches you the depths of existence. However, it conveys the protagonist's life so well and clearly that it brings the reader into its own world on its own terms
The point of the book then isn't "Our culture is full of superfluous information," but "this is what it's like to live in a culture full of superfluous information," drawing your attention to things you hadn't noticed
You could be completely right that the book doesn't do this effectively. I wouldn't know, I haven't read it lol
But I think it is important to think about the role of literature and what it's meant to do/tell its intended audience
Read IJ, Broom of the System, point omega and Angel Esmeralda, all in the last year ( and more, if someone keeping score & is compensating lack of life with reading books) I think delilo is "dry"the writing is great, but it lacks something. Also have the feeling he tries to be relevant/predicting the future, which he fails at. Just started Miss Wyoming by Coupland, feels like YA after delilo ( not trying to be edgy, just my opinion)