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End Zone

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,956 ratings  ·  186 reviews
At Logos College in West Texas, huge young men, vacuum-packed into shoulder pads and shiny helmets, play football with intense passion. During an uncharacteristic winning season, the perplexed and distracted running back Gary Harkness has periodic fits of nuclear glee; he is fueled and shielded by his fear of and fascination with nuclear conflict. Among oddly afflicted and ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published January 7th 1986 by Penguin Books (first published 1972)
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"The language game is so to say something unpredictable. I mean, it is not based on grounds. It is not reasonable (or unreasonable). It is there—like our life" - Wittgenstein

Once in Jr. High, I was playing a game of rugby (or as close to a game of rugby as you can get weighing 95lbs at a small private school in Provo, UT) and was totally blindsided during the 'game'. There was a moment after I pulled my face out of the dirt where I tasted both blood and clarity. Everything seemed at once to poss
Nick Wellings
Splendid book, near perfect in places.

Sterile declarative verbal utterances imitate speech and unfurl as prettily as perfect football plays. However, meaning teeters on the edge of blank tautology that in the end declares only the unsaid: the core of modern angst that is Delillo's abiding theme in most of his books. This is speech that does violence to language as the footballers of Harkness' college do violence to each other both on and off field.

In places the novel is hilarious. The football g
Cathy Shive
football is not warfare. warfare is warfare and history is the placement of bodies.
End Zone is a very funny novel about Gary Harkness, outsider football player at a small school in the middle of nowhere. Lots of stiltedly strange characters and dialog that switches from grunting to philosophy from line to line. Characters do things like memorize lists of random German words for classes on 'the untellable' and have names like Zapalac or Azamanian.
You get great exchanges like this:

"'Right,' I said. 'Right, right, right.'
'Awright. Aw-right, Gary boy.'
'Right, right, right.'
Perhaps this is a little bit difficult to explain, but trapped within this novel of frustratingly psuedo-intellectual conversations, for instance, regarding the nature of nihilism, is a very real attempt to understand, the posturing of language fitting well to convey the ideas and the attitudes, the wanderings and the self-inflated egos and poorly thought out convictions that plague the youth of the world. It is a novel about finding the self, and it is, even more so, about the fear of losing it ...more
Written over a decade before White Noise, it's a whole lot of DeLillo ideas in their embryonic forms. Nuclear war, metaphor upon metaphor, America as incoherent fever dream, sort of humor that really isn't humor. The only problem is that as a young writer, he tried to condense these things into a fairly short book. They need to be given breathing room. As in White Noise, or, better yet, Underworld, which is a great and magisterial tome. But hey, it's early work, and it's got some of that wonderf ...more
I picked this up for 75 cents in a used clothing store in central Tucson, not having read anything by DeLillo since Underworld, and found that I'd been missing DeLillo's fierce intelligence and strange, incantatory poetic vision. But what really surprised me was his humor. As when reading Underworld, I was continually struck by the stylist's able hand with complex concepts, but here, perhaps because of the book's size, or maybe because it is the work of an author who still hadn't assumed his pos ...more
Distinctive and darkly humorous look at the intersection of football and thermonuclear war and the rituals and neuroses of both. DeLillo's distinctive and lovely prose style also benefits the book - this early work shows some of the techniques he would develop much later.
Alan Chen
It's hard to summarize DeLillo's works or even to talk about what they're about because the plot is rarely the most interesting part of the novel. The novel encompasses football, nuclear weapons, homesickness, loneliness, war, and what I find most engaging, a young person trying to find himself through the exploration of the world around him and discussion of ideas. Harkness is a talented football player that has been kicked out of two schools already because he acts out or breaks down after a c ...more
Jack Waters
Infinite variables at play interact with slightly enough displacement to alter trajectories, plans, ordered assumption.

So then, football. War. The human search for meaning.

Regardless of planned action, injurious results are to be expected. Nonetheless, it leaves witnesses aghast.

Spit intended to hit the ground instead of pants; a triply-converged-tackle killing a footballer; a set of pale legs distended from a wrecked auto. The effects churn the affected state; are you altered, or is the course
Have you ever been reading a book and been kind of lost? I mean, you understand what’s going on and who the different characters are, but you’re lost as to the purpose of the book? I felt that way about Don DeLillo’s End Zone. I understood the basic plot - a small West Texas college football team’s season, as told by one of the running backs, who is obsessed with nuclear war - but pages and pages of rambling monologues and dialogues went by and I didn’t get anything out of them. I felt as though ...more
Nicholas Pell

I can never decide if this or Libra are my favorite Delillo novel. I know, I know. I'm an idiot for picking this slim and sleepy tome (about football) from an oeuvre that includes big, heavy books like Underworld.

Unlike most people, I was instantly intrigued by this tale of football as a metaphor for nuclear war. Delillo, of course, makes the tape run both ways. Nuclear war is also a metaphor for football. Gary Harkness is the perfect Delillo antihero, and the rest of h
Siendo bastante generoso, se queda con tres estrellas. No ha funcionado conmigo y no solo por el mero hecho de que el 80% del libro verse sobre partidos de fútbol americano, entrenamientos y estrategia. Me hubiera dado igual que la alegoría sobre la Guerra Fría, término que aparece una sola vez en todo el texto, hubiera sido sobre el ajedrez, también sería válido como metáfora de la época.

Es extraño analizar el libro que a mí me hubiera gustado leer; el problema principal es la proporción dedica
Starts great- DeLillo wanders without much plot and the whole book falls apart. Sort of like a cake made badly. Still a cake, but needs more structure.
this is a total guy book.
Jim Rybicki
If you scroll through the goodread reviews, you'll see that the consensus is that the ending is unsatisfying. It has an off-putting theoretical feel, and despite my efforts to like it I haven't come around.

But that's the bad. The good is that the book is extremely funny and full of brilliant vingettes, like the chapter on the game Bang You're Dead. Delillo often pairs words in unexpected ways that I enjoy. He is my favorite writter when it comes to expressing the vague but powerful feeling of e
This was my first DeLillo so I'm not completely sure I "got" it all, but I loved the themes he presented and the things it made me think about as I was reading. The entire middle section detailing one single football game was hard to get through as I know nothing about the sport and it really went right over my head. Despite that lengthy passage and how much Gary needs football, I didn't get the sense the book was about the sport at all. If anything, having a football team seemed like a convenie ...more
Ana Mardoll
End Zone / 0-14-008568-8

In this incredible allegory between football, war, and destruction, "End Zone" wonderfully fleshes out the classic Delillo obsession with mass death and world devastation. His characters wear shirts with mushroom clouds festooned on the front, they brood over board games that focus around apocalypse scenarios, and they meditate in the desert on the nature of death, the meaninglessness of life, and pain of existence. The football analogy is apt and carefully exploited, but
Sentimental Surrealist
I kinda feel like DeLillo runs his typically crazyass premise - football as a metaphor for war - into the ground a little here, but then the sort-of famous line about football not being a metaphor for war because war is a metaphor for war is one of those brilliant acts of subversion only DeLillo could pull... in the man's typical style, it's pretty much impossible to tell if he's fucking with us, pulling his whole premise out from under our feet and asking us to look elsewhere for the answer, or ...more
How do you rate this book? It's 250 pages of pretentious, beautiful, clever, and funny text. It also might be the worst football story ever and good luck bonding with the characters - they are all testosterone and philosophy.

It earns three stars simply on the basis of DeLillo's writing. Grab an extra highlighter or pack of stickies, because there are lots of passages you're going to want to mark.

The fourth star comes from the clever way that he merges football and war. He explicitly denies the o
I never would have gone so far as to even open what was ostensibly a sports novel if it hadn't been written by Don DeLillo. My initial skepticism quickly vanished as I returned to the familiar prose of one of my favorite authors from whom I've been away too long, dabbling in "the classics" and largely falling asleep to them. While End Zone is far from DeLillo's best, it ranks highly with the rest of his 70's and 80's output. If you're like me and just don't understand the appeal of sports, you m ...more
Alfonso D'agostino
Mi è capitato, anche piuttosto frequentemente, di leggere critiche più o meno velate ad questa o quella casa editrice per la pubblicazione di un’ora giovanile di un autore di successo. Con la tastiera sporcata da una certa supponenza e da un atteggiamento al limite dello snob, tali pubblicazioni venivano bollate come semplici “operazioni commerciali”, dimenticando – tra le altre cose – che una casa editrice é anche un’impresa, è come tale deve puntare al raggiungimento di un utile che ne garanti ...more
I have read a number of The Don’s books and enjoyed nearly all of them (The Names was a bit obtuse). I came to this one through another book I was reading. In fact, that is how I choose my books now, for the most part; if a book is mentioned in one I am reading, I will get hold of it and, in turn, read it. A sort of journey without maps, the shape of which can only be discerned with hindsight. Occasionally I will try something new, just to break free from what could otherwise become an ever-decr ...more

" Clever, playful and funny" says the review. I found it depressing, strange and black.
Also as the narrator wrote at the beginning of Part 2 , "The spectator ,at this point , is certain to wonder whether he must endure a football game" --- no she did not! Thirty pages of any football game is too much for anyone let alone someone who knows nothing of this code of football, which by the way seemed to be exaggerated in its focus on violence.
Lenny Wick
This is a terrific book.

It took me a while to settle into what makes DeLillo great and I think I'm finally there, after failing to get into Mao II twice over the years, Running Dog, parts of Americana and Players, Cosmopolis, and listening to Underworld on audio cassette years ago. I leave out White Noise which feels its own thing.

It wasn't until Great Jones Street , although it's a bit of a mess of a novel, that I really understood what he was doing, that how I was sliding along the rim of eac
"End Zone" is the story of an American college football-player with a nuclear war obsession and a way with words which makes him appear totally detached from his own life. If I were at all familiar with American football, I might have been able to distinguish the parodic from the pretentious -- as it is, in this word-dense novel which says almost nothing, I'm left feeling that DeLillo has tried to be too clever, and has missed the mark for once.
Angelo Ricci
Esce in libreria End Zone è subito la sensazione è quella di avere davanti agli occhi il tassello di un mosaico narrativo ormai imponente al cui compimento editoriale assistiamo negli anni come in una marcia a ritroso della intera creazione dello scrittore nuovayorkese, marcia a ritroso che si compie con la pubblicazione dei suoi primi libri (l'anno scorso la mirabile silloge di racconti L'angelo Esmeralda) e che assume ormai affascinanti caratteri simbolici che rimandano allo stesso sviluppo a ...more
I liked it more than all the critics. It isn't serious at all and in that manner I think it stands out among his collection. In its overt metaphor it may have captured the sentiment of American Society better than White Noise. Maybe. Just a thought at least.
Emilio PÆsano
feverish chorea of (seemingly) arbitrarily chosen moments in americana; football, cold war, science fiction, higher education... perhaps insightful if "process" interests you
I really loved this book. Having recently read The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace, and not enjoyed it, and now reading this: wow, are they similar. It seems as though David Foster Wallace must have deliberately imitated Don Delillo. The style of the dialog is similar and even some of the exact events, such as characters gaining or losing a lot of weight as part of a stated plan to change or control their identities. But this felt very authentic, and I found it very funny as well as ...more
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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...
White Noise Underworld Libra Cosmopolis Falling Man

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“There’s a kind of theology at work here. The bombs are a kind of god. As his power grows, our fear naturally increases. I get as apprehensive as anyone else, maybe more so. We have too many bombs. They have too many bombs. There’s a kind of theology of fear that comes out of this. We begin to capitulate to the overwhelming presence. It’s so powerful. It dwarfs us so much. We say let the god have his way. He’s so much more powerful than we are. Let it happen, whatever he ordains. It used to be that the gods punished men by using the forces of nature against them or by arousing them to take up their weapons and destroy each other. Now god is the force of nature itself, the fusion of tritium and deuterium. Now he’s the weapon. So maybe this time we went too far in creating a being of omnipotent power. All this hardware. Fantastic stockpiles of hardware. The big danger is that we’ll surrender to the sense of inevitability and start flinging mud all over the planet.” 3 likes
“Fee-uck, man. This game is still on. I get that sixty-two yet. I get his ass and whip it into shape. Damnright. I get that shitpiss sixty-two and beat his black ass into the ground."
"He’s white," I said.
"I know he’s white. They’re all white. Everybody’s white. Black fucks.”
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