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3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,246 Ratings  ·  220 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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Underworld by Don DeLilloWhite Noise by Don DeLilloLibra by Don DeLilloGreat Jones Street by Don DeLilloMao II by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo ranked
13th out of 15 books — 26 voters
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Books not many people know
8th out of 50 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Feb 02, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Here is a song for this review. I like the original better, but this cover isn't too shabby either:

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
Nov 19, 2014 Alexandra rated it did not like it
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
Sep 25, 2008 Kyle rated it really liked it
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
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
Nate D
Mar 19, 2009 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
Jun 07, 2013 Rayroy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970-present, prose
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
Aug 30, 2013 WordsBeyondBorders rated it liked it
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
Sep 14, 2012 Kaitlin rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 10, 2014 Phil rated it liked it
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
Alan Chen
Aug 29, 2014 Alan Chen rated it liked it
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
Titus Burley
Jan 02, 2012 Titus Burley rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2009 Lacey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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
Vincent Louis
Oct 06, 2010 Vincent Louis rated it really liked it
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
Christine Palau
Oct 23, 2009 Christine Palau rated it it was ok
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
Michael Alexander
May 26, 2010 Michael Alexander rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2016 J. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pensai che forse in quella metropoli la folla era davvero essenziale all'individuo, perché senza di essa non c'era nulla contro cui rivolgere la propria rabbia, mancava l'eco del proprio dolore, si dissolveva ogni prova concreta dell'esistenza di persone ancora più sole al mondo.

Io non ce l'ho fatta. So che è ingiusto, so che è come barare, ma io mi rifiuto di andare avanti nella lettura di questo libro. Esperienza traumatica, non tanto per il contenuto - che anzi, mi aveva attratto non poco - q
Jul 11, 2007 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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.
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.
A great poke at Madison Avenue!

From the beginning of DeLillo's career and a must read for his fans.
Drew Lerman
Nov 01, 2015 Drew Lerman rated it it was amazing
I'm happy to say I finished this book yesterday, the day before my 28th birthday. Thus I remained younger than David Bell throughout my reading. Or at least, the David Bell of the book's main narrative.

This book took me twelve years to read. I started it when I was sixteen or so and put it down, bored by page fifty. No doubt about it, this is a boring book. There's no plot, really, if by plot we mean causally-connected events, and I think that's part of the point. I picked it up earlier this yea
Marc Nash
Dec 22, 2012 Marc Nash rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2007 Deb rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 28, 2009 Clay rated it liked it
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
Charles Adkinson

I wanted to just make that one word my review, but it needs to be said that parts of this book were more than readable, and DeLillo is extremely talented even judging him solely on this novel. I just can't get away from those last 150 pages, which I read in about 2 days because I knew if I didn't blaze through them I'd still be reading this book, and that thought terrified me. The only thing worse than a bad student film is reading about someone making a bad student film. Bell talks about w
Brad Martinez
May 08, 2015 Brad Martinez rated it it was ok
The first 125 pages aside (which portend DeLillo's later balance of deft storytelling, uniquely American characters and a mastery of language), this is a pretentious, muddled and tedious disaster. Oh well. Even Hall and Oates' debut was a messy pile of inconsistency (see: "Whole Oats").
Feb 04, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Danny Daley
Jul 28, 2015 Danny Daley rated it liked it
The great novelist Delillo's first book, Americana is a jump start to many of themes he holds dear. It fits in with a rather long, but appropriate tradition of using the novel to critique American society.

The critiques are apt, and the prose absolutely phenomenal for a first novel. David Bell, the anti-hero, is an interesting study. I loved the references to literature and international cinema, and many of the quotes in the book are perfect for reflection on the subject matter. I loved "America
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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
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“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” 52 likes
“Talent is everything. If you've got talent, nothing else matters. You can screw up your personal life something terrible. So what. If you've got talent, it's there in reserve. Anybody who has talent they know they have it and that's it. It's what makes you what you are. It tells you you're you. Talent is everything; sanity is nothing. I'm convinced of it. I think I had something once. I showed promise, didn't I? But I was too sane. I couldn't make the leap out of my own soul into the soul of the universe. That's the leap they all made. From Blake to Rimbaud. I don't write anything but checks. I read science fiction. I go on business trips to South Bend and Rochester. The one in Minnesota. Not Rochester, New York. Rochester, Minnesota. I couldn't make the leap.” 20 likes
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