Americana
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Americana

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  2,588 ratings  ·  183 reviews
At twenty-eight, David Bell is the American dream come true. He has fought his way to the top, surviving office purges and scandals to become a top television executive. David's world is made up of the images that flicker across America's screens, the fantasies that enthrall America's imagination. And then the dream--and the dream-making--become a nightmare. At the height...more
Paperback, 454 pages
Published August 10th 1993 by Actes Sud (first published 1971)
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Greg
Here is a song for this review. I like the original better, but this cover isn't too shabby either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX7QAn...

I'm going to throw out an idea. Maybe it's not really a good one, or true or maybe it's something that's obvious, which all of the above are probably the case for most of my ideas but here it goes: when you get right down to it, America is a country without history. Instead we're a nation of stories and myths. We have the stories of the founding fathers that...more
Kyle
Just really unbelievable that he can get away with so blatant and heavy a freudian plot point. Along with the iron-fisted relationships drawn between flashback and present action. All of it. The disastrous last act, the disastrous bookend premise of the narrator's presence. And still, STILL, a book everyone should read, especially everyone who wants to write a novel, because here is a masterful author's uniquely unmasterful first stab, since esteemed as a masterpiece for its sheer unmasterfulnes...more
Alexandra
Americana von Don de Lillo - eine Enttäuschung Leider ein typisch amerikanscher episch breiter "Roman", komplett ohne Aussage, Tiefgang, Verstand, voll mit Gedankensprüngen und sinnlosen Hintergrundgeschichten, eines nach dem anderen. So wie die freundliche klischeehafte oberflächliche amerikanische Lady, die völlig geistlos aber höflich permanent vor sich hinplappert, nur um die Stille, vor der sie sich so fürchtet, mit sinnfreien Phrasen und Gschichtln zu füllen.Und das nennen die Kritiker dan...more
Lisa
AmericanaI’ve had mixed success with award-winning American author Don DeLillo. I abandoned the first one I tried (The Body Artist) but I was very impressed by Falling Man (see my review) even though it’s a challenging book to read. I picked up Americana (1971) when I stumbled on it at the library because I have just bought a copy of award-winning Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah from the Africa Book Club - and I wanted to see if she drew at all on DeLillo’s novel with a similar so...more
Sentimental Surrealist
It seems that this has only entered the pop culture discourse as a sort of proto-American Psycho, based around the idea that its first segment is about the shallow nature of corporate America and the personality-free drones that make their fortunes within the confines of that system. I don't quite agree with that, because I think it ignores two key interlocking facets of this novel. For one, the "office politics" segment only lasts about a hundred pages, before David Bell (who most would hold as...more
Rayroy
Delillo writes about image and death and it seems that most of his characters are fascinated by war and terrorism, whether it’s David Bell from Americana or Gary Harkness of End Zone. At times it’s as if Delillo is writing thru a video camera and there’s a sense of excellent cinematography in all of Delillo’s work. Americana is Don Delillo’s first novel and I loved it but felt that the third part was lacking something, it didn’t do a lot for me and felt the other three parts were much better. I...more
WordsBeyondBorders
Don Dellilo's works have been described as novels of ideas and I agree with that. Several of his novels have an idea/concept/contemporary social more as the base and the characters in the novel serve as props for that. (It could be consumerism/threat of nuclear warfare in 'White Noise', power of the mob/television in 'Mao II'. )However this is not to give an impression that Dellilo is trying to shove things down the readers throat, not at all. On the other hand, it seems to me like he has someth...more
Jeff Jackson
DeLillo's debut contains the seeds of his better future novels and the remnants of typical American fiction that he would forever leave behind. The first section is an absurdist office comedy that's eerily close to "Mad Men." The second section reads like a remix of Updike or Cheever. The third is an examination of stasis and begins DeLillo's ongoing fascination with artists, representations of reality, and extreme works of art. The final section reads like "Two Lane Blacktop" scripted by Robert...more
Phil
It's been ages since I read any DeLillo and so going back and reading his first book was an odd experience. Clearly I wasn't going to get something on the scale of Underworld which, at least in memory, is an amazing book but I was hoping for something as good as White Noise. For some reason this didn't quite get there for me. The writing style is consistently good and hits brilliant heights in places - I loved the sections on the main character's pal who does talk radio in a complete monologue i...more
Adam
DeLillo's debut novel is all about the real (hyperreal) stuff of America and Americana: its image(s). He still hadn't worked out the magnificent prose style of most of his later work but this book's got it's own mojo working. The major themes of this novel were revisited, in various different ways, in many (most?) of DeLillo's later work, but this novel really tears into Americana. It's like Two-Lane Blacktop and David Lynch collided head-on with, well, Don DeLillo. It's a nightmare, and nightma...more
Titus Burley
Americana is a brilliant book - akin in its imagery rich rants to Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. It is experimental satire of high order; a book written in a more blessed time when a major publisher would risk printing a first novel that follows none of the predictable maxims of storytelling. It is a novel without villain unless that villain is at times the narrator, David Bell, himself. Bell in essence goes on a physical cross-country quest to remedy a growing disenchantment with his world...more
Lacey
I really wanted to like this book. I remember when I read DeLillo's book "Libra" that I had been completely enamored with his prose. It was a really good book, and he had a penchant for detail that was completely unmatched. And the prose in Americana is good, but I just didn't like it as much. It's not DeLillo's best.

There are a lot of good things I can say about the book. I did love his repetition of icons and ideas that really are associated with Americana: the cheap hotel room, the idea of fe...more
Vincent Louis
Exquisite. Prescient. An incredible debut from the best living American novelist. Like Mad Men's Don Draper, DeLillo's David Bell doesn't know who he is, and like Draper he is largely a fiction to himself and the world (though not as ostensibly as Draper). His journey of discovery tears him down while holding a mirror up to ourselves, our culture. The whole novel, for me, was a prequel to a single anecdotal story related by a secondary character (Sullivan) toward the end. What a writer DeLillo i...more
Nate D
I once saw this book referenced (I no longer recall by who) as an example of the First Novels Are Most Quintessential principle. Not necessarily best, but just the most like the body of work they open. The idea has some merit, especially in this case: DeLillo has always grappled with the meaning of modernity in American life, through any number of lenses, but only in this first and aptly named version did he just plunge in head-on, laying out thematic territory we would return to again and again...more
Michael Alexander
Call me a bad person, but this is my favorite DeLillo. I get what he does with the hyper-flat parodically-inane dialogue in the White Noise period, and some of his jokes are genuinely funny, but I never really get into his mature work. This, however, has all the seams showing: him trying to write a kinda countercultural post-Beat novel with a dollop of his later style while parodying life in an advertising firm. Throw in some parodies of "real America" and a weird indie film and serve chilled. L...more
Kaitlin
White Noise is one of my favorites. This didn't do it for me. It's dated and was almost painful to read; all the characters are self-absorbed and one-sided. It's written almost as stream of consciousness, but grates because it's trying too hard to prove something.

I am planning to read Libra soon because the concept is just too interesting. I wish I'd passed on this one though.
Alan Chen
I'm a fan of Delillo and really enjoyed how the book began but it got too absurd as the the novel progressed. While absurdism is a trademark of Delillo and postmodern lit, the way it manifested in this novel did not resonate with me. The book is in four parts, with three parts of about the same length and an extremely short fourth. Book begins with David Bell as a narcissistic broadcasting executive and his meditations on the indulgent corporate world that he flourishes in. He's over 6 ft tall,...more
Arwen56
Mi sono stufata. E molto anche. Questo era il mio primo approccio a DeLillo. Ed è andato decisamente male. Ci riproverò in futuro, con un altro libro. Sperando che, col tempo, come scrittore sia migliorato. Perché qui, in questo suo primo romanzo, fa veramente venire il latte alle ginocchia.
Jim
A great poke at Madison Avenue!

From the beginning of DeLillo's career and a must read for his fans.
Marc Nash
Delillo's debut novel from the early 1970s. You can see the rudiments of some of what he went on to develop in his more famous later novels. The astonishing word explosions are here a plenty " he was laughing in an exaggerated manner, overdoing it, creating the laugh as if with ceramics". There are some wonderful free-form streams of consciousness, part poetry, part jazz, particularly in the ravings of a radio disc jockey.

But for all that, the book does not quite hold together. Unusually for Del...more
Deb
Sep 20, 2007 Deb rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of rambling narrative like McCarthy
My first experience with Don DeLillo was good. I'm not certain I'd be ready for anything else of his for a while-- that's a nice way of saying one of his books might be enough. But I'm usually very adamant about finishing what I start. And it was good, just not great. I'm moving on to short stories by Graham Greene, I think--- or at least until the new Richard Russo comes out, which is very soon and I can't wait. May go try to see him at the Harvard Book Store event in a few weeks- any takers? M...more
Clay
As the titles of his books make clear (Americana, Underworld, Cosmopolis) Don Delillo has Great American Novel (GAN) ambitions. Americana, Delillo’s debut, tells the familiar (hackneyed? banal?) story of David Bell, a young, successful, and yet - surprise! - disillusioned television executive in New York. At 28 David felt like “all of us at the network existed only on videotape,” and so to escape the media-scape-cum-Platonic-cave, David takes off in search of Real America, which is located somew...more
Christine Palau
If "Mad Men" were to continue on for another five/ten years, or worse, do a spin-off, "Americana" would be its jumping of the shark. I really wanted to like this book. But I just couldn't connect. David wasn't doing it for me. There is a great line though, (thus two stars and not one), "The whole country's going to puke blood when they read it." I wish I had that sort of visceral reaction to "Americana." Seriously, the fictional novel Brand was referring to, "Coitus Interruptus," sounded like a...more
Christina
DeLillo's first book. True to its name in countless ways, including 1) the distinctly American description of the main character's office life (David Bell, a TV executive), with many amusing exchanges with the secretaries and his boss, mainly at the first part of the book; and 2)the way David Bell describes his life as "lived in the movies," imagining it in a idyllic Hollywood way. The book changes dramatically when Bell goes on a roadtrip with his friends in a camper to middle America, where he...more
Luís Miguel
DeLillo é um escritor obrigatório, este o seu primeiro livro, seria este de leitura obrigatória? Quis lê-lo por pensar que tratava uma odisseia pelos EUA, idílica e livre, com muita descrição dos wide open spaces - não é. David Bell é um executivo do mundo da TV e torna-se o veículo perfeito para DeLillo criticar a superficialidade desse meio. Numa primeira parte, a vida de David passa-nos diante dos olhos como se de um anúncio televisivo se tratasse: apelativa, colorida e única. Seguidamente, D...more
Conor
Feb 10, 2014 Conor rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
DeLillo was thirty-five when this was published in 1971. Gives me hope in a way, being the spry young buck twenty-two year old I am now.
He tackles a lot for his first novel. Maybe too much, so that the final result lacks the focus to make it a truly great novel. It’s hit and miss, but the prose is, for a first novel, crisp and maybe even poetic. Whatever that means. People say that of DeLillo’s writing, and I suppose it is. He has something of a minimalist style. Leaves a lot of the flourishes...more
Trevor
I read this years ago, and quite liked it - though it is not really his best book. There a wonderful part in it where the writer is making a film and has written the script on the walks of the motel room he is in and gets the actor to read the script as he uses the camera to either film the actor or pan the text on the walls.

His books are filled with incredibly strong images that stay with your for years and years.
Chris
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Krok Zero
DeLillo's debut is clearly the work of a genius in chrysalis, before he found discipline or focus. It feels very much like a novel borne of the sixties intellectual zeigeist (as opposed to the sixties popular zeitgeist, which is far more familiar to us now). I recommend it to hardcore DD fans, but it's kind of a slog, and probably not worthwhile for anyone else.
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American...more
More about Don DeLillo...
White Noise Underworld Libra Cosmopolis Falling Man

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“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” 36 likes
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