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White Noise

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  60,740 Ratings  ·  3,231 Reviews
First published in 1985, White Noise won the National Book Award. It is now regarded as a classic of postmodern literature. Jack Gladney is a pioneering professor in the field of Hitler Studies at the bucolic Midwestern College-on-the-Hill. Married five times, he has a brood of children and stepchildren with his current wife, Babette. Over the course of an absurd, tragic y ...more
Paperback, Picador 40th Anniversary Edition, 375 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Picador (first published 1985)
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Oct 08, 2007 amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for people who take pills for a reason
My first Don DeLillo. Not for people who use the word postulate. My experience was almost entirely ruined by the used copy I received which had notes in the margins. It says "Help" when Jack Gladney talks about Hitler on multiple pages (Has this person never heard of Hitler?), it says "sheesh" when his son, Heinrich, goes into a long-winded ramble about brain chemistry and how he couldn't know what he really wants. The best of all the marginal note stupidity from anonymous though, is the discuss ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 07, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ooh look! It's a can. Looks like it might have worms inside. Let's open it up again.

Updated (i.e. "final") review: March 30th, 2008

So. I had read three quarters of this and decided to chuck it, but last night my compulsive side won over, and I went ahead and finished it. I still can't wrap my mind around the notion that I should somehow regard it as a "great book of the 20th century", and none of the 19 comments in this thread to date really addresses why I should. So, I am asking for enlighte
May 07, 2013 Jenn(ifer) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: believers
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the sentry to the island of misfit toys

If I had it my way, as soon as you clicked on my review this song would blare from your speakers: (and the video is amazing; I would rather you watch it than read my nonsensical ramblings)


This book smells like napalm. It sounds like air being slowly released from a balloon. It tastes like ashes of the American dream.

I wander the city, invisible earmuffs blocking out the sounds, eyes glued to pages, smile glued to my face. People look at me as
Oct 13, 2013 Dorothea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hipster nihilists
Recommended to Dorothea by: My Dad!
Reading White Noise by Don DeLillo is the literary equivalent of 18 paranoid hours of non-stop channel surfing while chain-smoking and nursing a migraine in a smoggy, over-crowded city. On meth.

Do you want to know why this is one of the most important books of the 20th century? Because it's a good example of the postmodern simulacra, absurdist philosophy that plagued the latter half of the 20th century and still plagues us today. I felt bleak and empty for several days after reading this book, a
Apr 09, 2012 B0nnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“What if death is nothing but sound....electrical noise….you hear it forever…sound all around…uniform, white.”
white noise
Think about that. Death: white noise. A metaphor for the substance of nothingness.

However you wish to describe it, death casts a large black shadow on us. It covers human beings but not animals - because animals are not afraid of death. Get rid of that shadow, problem solved…

What if there were a pill that that fixes the fear-of-death part of the brain and cures you of this "condi
Ian GalaDali
100 Words in Search of a Precis (For Those of Us Who Prefer the Short Form of Stimulation)

At its heart, “White Noise” is a comic dramatization of the fear of death.

In modern consumer society, we are only fulfilled if our shopping bags are filled full.

We do it in crowds. It must be right, if we’re all doing it. It’s part of the natural order. It’s “ordernary”.

It’s a collective delusion, “a convenient fantasy, the worst kind of self-delusion,” designed to distract us from our incapacitation in t
Stephen M
Dec 29, 2011 Stephen M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: obras-maestras
After getting through this book for a third time, I'm still blown away by it. Although the social satire becomes more obvious on multiple readings, there are more than enough mind-blowing moments to make it worthwhile. I still have a few questions.

What does Wilder crying at the end mean? Is that him finally speaking? Or is it some semblance of hope?

Is Dylar real? Is it a placebo?

What happens to Mr. Gray at the end? At one moment he is about to die, then the next it cuts away to an argument about
Jonathan Ashleigh
This book should be read by everyone who is planning on dying. The teenage boy is the best character and he isn't given enough attention, but still, this book is well worth anyone's time. Don DeLillo helped inspire the likes of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk. For that, I am thankful he and this book exist.
Apr 07, 2010 Megha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I am having a very difficult time trying to decide if White Noise is actually an intelligent work which I completely failed to understand. Or is it just one of those novels which try to sound all smart and deep and profound, but do not actually make much sense.

The characters are all strange, the dialogue and prose is weird. It is perhaps not rare for authors to create characters that are unsentimental, and totally incapable of having a normal conversation. But I find it difficult to appreciate s
Jan 24, 2010 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100, classic-lit
A few years back, shortly after Katrina had her way with New Orleans, Time magazine did a cover story about how Americans prepare and cope with disasters. And we don’t do well with them. The story pointed out that while Americans love to obsess about all the potentially horrible things that can happen, we refuse to take actions to prevent or minimize their impact because we don’t want to admit that they’re really possible.

That’s why Americans will freak out if you try to spend a few hundred mill
Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I saw to my consternation that I'd given two stars to this smirkfest yet stuck it on my Finally Threw it At the Wall shelf. This is a contradiction. So : One Star For You, Mr DeLillo. Fuck off.
Rakhi Dalal
Jun 22, 2014 Rakhi Dalal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: compelling
Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed.

-----------R.W.Emerson, Nature

White noise compellingly carries with it an inexorable clamour which seems to characterize the kind of lives that are lived today: a fear, panic or anxiety; of death, things terrible or
Feb 23, 2008 Christy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers being raised in suburbia who totally hate it/their parents
Recommended to Christy by: Someone who thought confronting consumerism was shocking.
I noticed there is a "Don Delillo's White Noise: A Reader's Guide" out there. I find that funny, but also somewhat offensive.

I'll come right out a say that I don't like Delillo, and am shocked by people who claim that he is a "good writer." Is being a good author the same as being a good writer? Shouldn't an author have something worthwhile to say, and shouldn't he be able to keep us interested while doing so? His characters are terribly one-note, his dialogue painfully contrived. I've decided t
Apr 09, 2008 Marco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: smart people who don't get fat on American Idol.
This is probably the most accessible of Delillo's works, the one which I could pull off my shelf, dust off it's weathered skin, and hand to you, saying, "This is what the master does best." Or something a little less Masterpiece Theatre-y, but you get my drift.

It also contains a single line that probably sums up his entire literary career: "All plots move deathward."

Wikipedia talks about the book being a "absurdist family drama combined with academic satire." Yeah, that's a good start. Really,
MJ Nicholls
Sep 29, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
So White Noise seems to divide people entirely on matters of literary style, which is understandable. Once you accept the skewed reality of Delillo’s world, which isn’t particularly hard to do, you can take pleasure from the “unrealistic” dialogue and the surrealistic happenings as they happen, surrealistically. Otherwise, this is a straightforward book “about death”—theme-wise, this about as simple as they come. Delillo’s style for me was incredibly original, utterly engrossing and extremely fu ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like how my mom still calls me if there is bad weather nearby, or if I'm out driving on a holiday where the roads could be filled with people who had too much to drink.

It's like when the grocery store parking lots stay full when snow is on the way because people think they may be stuck inside their house forever.

It's like how the news can report on how Coke can kill you so you start drinking Diet Coke, but then the artificial sweetener can give you cancer so you try to just drink water, bu
B the BookAddict
Sep 03, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: This Day in Literary History thread in AAB group
Shelves: bingo-challenge

White Noise is Don DeLillo’s eighth novel and was written in 1985. Set at a Midwestern college, it follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies. Jack has been married five times to four different women and is bringing up a brood of children and stepchildren with his current wife, Babette. The couple share a morbid fear of death and frequently lay in bed discussing which one of them wants to die first. A chemical spill, an
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
I put this book on my 2009 Literary Resolutions List, which comprises 15 books culled from Time's List of the 100 Greatest Novels since 1920. I thought it was a novelization of that movie where Michael Keaton hears dead people. I was wrong.

I really didn't like this book. It annoyed, irritated, and grated on me.

The book follows Jack Gladney, who is a professor of Hitler Studies (a throwaway joke that is stretched throughout the entire book) at an eastern college. He's on his fourth marriage to
Violet wells
“The world is full of abandoned meanings.”
White Noise takes place in a realm one small step removed from an easily recognisable reality – or “just outside the range of human apprehension”, as DeLillo puts it. On face value none of its characters or events are quite credible – the characters are too eloquent, the scenes too stage managed. Why, for example, would people choose to go out in the open on foot to escape from a toxic cloud? Why not get in their cars or simply stay barricaded in their
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Sep 03, 2009 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Who Think About Death-Anxiety and Technology and Entertainment
Shelves: fiction
DeLillo is pretty quotable. Here's a few from White Noise:

"How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from ea
Nov 23, 2014 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usa
E’ molto difficile commentare questo libro. Parlare della trama banalizzerebbe il romanzo, ricchissimo di riflessioni sociologiche e anche filosofiche che si esprimono soprattutto nei dialoghi tra i protagonisti, sempre profondi pur nella quotidianità in cui si svolgono, quella di una famiglia americana. Ogni parola è precisa e incisiva come se avesse una sua propria ragion d’essere: per questo la lettura richiede cura ed attenzione particolari, ed è sempre per questo motivo che non è possibile ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Rayroy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part One: Discovery in a National Book Store

Some books have such profound impacts on the reader, that it changes the way the reader thinks, the reader remembers the book crystal clear in his head years later, and the reader will never be the same anymore. That book for me is Don DeLillo's “White Noise”, unlike anything I read at the time and I became obsessed a little with it.

As best as I can estimate at the moment it was eight years ago that I found myself in the fiction section of Barnes a
Sep 28, 2008 Rose rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hipsters
Recommended to Rose by: 1001 books
I'm so happy that I finally reached a point in this book where I could accept that I wasn't going to finish it. I stuck with it for a long time because I'd heard good things and because I actually enjoyed it a lot at the beginning. But after the toxic event, it's just really stupid.

Few writers could make a massive, deadly toxic gas leak boring. But somehow, I feel the Don DeLillo has done it here. Such an interesting thing to read about - potential for some serious action and dread! But there w
Feb 13, 2016 Chris_P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I shopped for immediate needs and distant contingencies. I shopped for its own sake, looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no intention of buying, then buying it.(...)I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed. Brightness settled around me.(...)The more money I spent, the less important it seemed. I was bigger than these sums. These sums poured off my skin like so much rain. These sums in fact c
Camille Stein
Dec 22, 2015 Camille Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Michael Cho's Sketchbook: Penguin Classics - Don DeLillo's White Noise Book Jacket Art -

—A eso se reduce todo al final — dijo—. Nos pasamos la vida despidiéndonos de los demás. Pero, ¿cómo despedirnos de nosotros mismos?


Resulta admirable cómo DeLillo aborda la realidad: de forma frívola en ocasiones; a veces como si se tratara de algo sobrenatural, dotado de una textura interna y escondida cuya clave resulta en apariencia ininteligible. Si hay algo de lo que no carece est
Nelson Zagalo
Demorei a escrever sobre este livro porque me obrigou a alguma reflexão mais elaborada, já que por um lado sentia que estava perante um trabalho de escrita e aprofundamento cultural de relevo, mas por outro sentia muitas reticências face à essência daquilo que nos queria dizer o seu autor. Li várias críticas de quando saiu em 1985, li mais algumas à edição comemorativa dos 25 anos de 2010, mas não consegui extrair muito mais do que aquilo que tinham sido as minhas impressões positivas, encontrei ...more
I originally read this book in 2006 and rated it three stars. I re-read it now for my book club (which seems to just have me re-reading books all the time, wassup wit dat) and I have to say I am having the worst time deciding between three stars again and five stars now.

Let me explain why.

I remembered very little about this book before I started re-reading it. When it came up in book club I was like "Oh, yeah, I remember that... there's... a thing about... a station wagon? And another thing?" So
Sentimental Surrealist
If you're looking for a traditionally Great Book, with fluid prose and beautiful descriptions and naturalistic dialog and likable characters who you come to root for, you might want to mediate your relationship with White Noise with a ten-foot pole, because let me tell you: this book is seriously weird. It flagrantly violates some rules of good writing, although we mustn't misunderstand: DeLillo has too much talent to blow all of them off. See, no matter what your reader's instincts might tell y ...more
Jul 19, 2008 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every so often you string together a series of stale intellectual months, your mind descending almost imperceptibly into fog as insights slip from sight before you ever quite see them and meanings merge with the things they're meant to make clear, and it may even begin to seem useless to bother with any cognition that concerns itself with more than the next paycheck, lay or meal – until you bumble into a book like White Noise and find yourself suddenly jarred back to something like clarity and e ...more
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On Paths Unknown: * 1. WHITE NOISE by Don de Lillo. Chapters 1-10. 66 22 May 02, 2016 07:51AM  
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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 about Don DeLillo...

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“No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.” 225 likes
“I've got death inside me. It's just a question of whether or not I can outlive it.” 183 likes
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