Monday, September 01, 2014

Quiet Flows the Don

Libra is quintessential DeLillo - terse-without-being-minimalist, exquisitely paced, wonderfully evocative without being overly descriptive; and very powerfully unsettling, although NF believes he has not quite understood the book on a satisfactory level yet, that more readings perhaps are required to understand why the book moves him the way it does.

Having become somewhat familiar with DeLillo's oeuvre now (White Noise, Underworld, Point Omega and now, Libra) NF has begun to appreciate the infrastructure of his worldview - that of technology, mass media and political violence arrogating to themselves, the role of mediating our narrative; our collective, worldwide conversation - a role played in the past by writers and intellectuals like Dickens or Tolstoy. NF has come to feel that it is DeLillo's powerful influence, much more than that of the wordy and maximalist Pynchon's, that pervades the pages of William Gibson, sharing as they both do, their desire to channel the emergent effect of technology's impact on human societies. (Gibson's insistence however, is more cosmopolitan and hard-tech obsessed, while DeLillo's theater is more literary, soft-tech Americana.)

NF also had a chance to read his autobiography, albeit a mere seven word one, courtesy the wonderful Brain Pickings of Maria Popova. (For other seven word autobiographies including those by William Gibson and Daniel Kahneman, visit here.) Here it is, typifying the simplicity and depth of his expression:

      Bronx boy
             why he is here.

DeLillo also participated in a BBC documentary about his work (though it seems surprising that someone who's so averse to publicity will have starred in it so prominently). In it, the writer comments about the themes that attract him, the strange coincidence that links him to Lee Harvey Oswald (spoiler: The Bronx) among other musings and reenactment of scenes from his fiction. Watch it here:

NF's playlist now features Ratner's Star, Mao II and Cosmopolis next and enjoins those with an excess of time, to give DeLillo a try!

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