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The Names

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  3,007 Ratings  ·  225 Reviews
Set against the backdrop of a lush and exotic Greece, The Names is considered the book which began to drive "sharply upward the size of his readership" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Among the cast of DeLillo's bizarre yet fully realized characters in The Names are Kathryn, the narrator's estranged wife; their son, the six-year-old novelist; Owen, the scientist; and the ...more
Published March 13th 1987 by Picador (first published September 12th 1982)
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Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 Violet wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were times in this novel when I wished DeLillo did plots. The Names is set up, brilliantly, like a thriller. An American in Athens with a shadowy job, a risk analyst for a company that insures multinational companies against the hazards of political upheaval, and part of an international subculture of equally shadowy executive figures benefiting from middle eastern turmoil hears about the existence of a death cult in the region of Greece where his separated wife and son are temporarily liv ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Designated Driver

Have you ever got the impression that, when an author started a book, they had no idea where it would go or how it would end?

That they would just slide into the front seat and let the book take over?

This is not such a book.

Instead, I got the impression that DeLillo was so firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat here that he wouldn’t have got out if a crew of firemen arrived to rescue him from his burning vehicle.

It was win or die, so he had to pull out all stops.

When he started,
Dec 29, 2010 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore delillo fans
Don DeLillo gets major points for style. Seriously, he's one of the all-time greatest American prose stylists; his knack for catching the rhythms of (educated, disaffected) speech is uncanny, as is his always-apt use of the interrogative-with-no-question-mark, which I've not seen effectively used in most writing but hear in speech every day. And he always picks good themes, if you want to call them that: technology, language, consumerism, intellectualism, violence, etc.

So why is it that he so ra
Steven  Godin
Apr 09, 2016 Steven Godin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american
An intelligent, mature and often quite complexing work from DeLillo who I am a fan, this is set mostly in Greece which centres on an American risk analyst staying in Athens who is slowly drawn to the workings of a mysterious 'language cult' who are obsessed with ancient alphabets and seem to be behind a number of unexplained murders. While described as an exotic thriller it's so much more than that, and tends to sway away from any conventional plot to focus more on deep and precise character stu ...more
Mar 29, 2012 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I can't figure out what to write about this book. This review does have a soundtrack though, it's a Leonard Cohen song, listen to it here.

With the exception of The Players, I feel like I'm through with what I think of as the 'early Delillo'. Next up is White Noise, which I feel is vastly overrated but which I'm going to give another try, and then there is Libra, a departure from what I normally think of Delillo but a pretty awesome historical novel and then his novel about a Pynchon-like author
Dec 07, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who want to know the world in its noisy entirety
Recommended to John by: many other writers & readers
This man's got all sorts of work to celebrate. Start w/ GREAT JONES STREET, DeLillo's vision of the banality that suffocates the famous, more pertinently American rock royalty, & continue right through to FALLING MAN, his fable of 9/11 & an America in which every tower is a deck of cards. Too long, my Goodreads space has languished w/out him, & I've got to go w/ this early-80s novel, a well-night flawless performance, the initial breakthrough to his creative peak. THE NAMES astounds ...more
Dec 19, 2016 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
There is a quote from the New York Times on the back cover of my edition of this book: "Delillo verbally examines every state of consciousness from eroticism to tourism, from the idea of America as conceived by the rest of the world to the idea of the rest of the world as conceived by America, from mysticism to fanaticism."

The book focuses on a group of Americans. They are not in America. They are in Greece and make frequent trips to other parts of the world. The only pre-requisite for where the
A fairly impressive bait & switch, insofar as it begins as though it were domestic meditation (e.g., “What she and I needed was a way to be together without feeling there were issues we had to confront, the bloody leftovers of eleven years. We weren’t the kind of people to have haggard dialogues on marriage” (20)), but then develops through a weird set of cultic murders (“The alphabet itself. They were interested in letters, written symbols” (30)) into an espionage thriller of sorts.

Very muc
Scott Gates
Mar 26, 2008 Scott Gates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A shaved head would do wonders for this group.”

Parts of The Names read like a tract of linguistic idealism. One of the characters, Owen Brademas, (who is obsessed with alphabets, the shape of words, and a cult that kills people based on their initials’ matching place names) posits that ancient structures were erected, tombs built, in order to have a place for the words. “The river of language is God,” he says, which is pretty close to Nietzsche’s “Without grammar, God is not possible” (or was i
Matt Tomic
Nov 19, 2016 Matt Tomic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Names is an underrated gem, lost in the shuffle of the epic grand theme books by DeLillo that followed. The opening scene is written so well my jaw dropped to the floor and I literally shook my head and laughed out loud at the pure swagger and command of the prose.

The plot is a conundrum. It seems to whisper at something bigger, but never comes right out to say it. Characters flit in and out of the story. They're boozy, jet set expats, who deal with the constant risk that comes with doing bu
May 03, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I tried with this one, I really did. I think I dove into DeLillo with the wrong book.

The premise is intriguing. An estranged American/Canadian couple raising their son in Greece. There's mysterious murders. There's "cultured world travelling" friends who pop in and out to have wine fuelled discussions about world events and political upheaval. The protagonist is removed, detached, sad, always thinking, thinking... The descriptions of Athens and the Greek Islands are spot on, it really captures
Ricardo Lourenço
Jul 31, 2010 Ricardo Lourenço rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sétimo romance de DeLillo, precedendo a publicação de Ruído Branco, que impulsionou a sua ascensão no panorama literário internacional, Os Nomes, apesar das críticas favoráveis, continua a ser um título imerecidamente menosprezado dada a sua qualidade, mas também por se desprender da crítica à sociedade americana pela qual o autor é reconhecido, para nos apresentar uma meditação política e espiritual do início da década de 80.

"When I work," he goes on, "I'm just translating the world around me i
Robert Jacoby
Jul 08, 2012 Robert Jacoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a caveat: I read poetry, novels, and short stories for both pleasure and work: to enjoy the writer's use of language and to learn how the writer did what he or she did, and to take away from the experience lessons for myself in my own work. As a writer, I give this novel 5 stars; as a reader, I give it 3 stars.

As a writer I stand in awe of DeLillo's use of language. He is constantly surprising you with his quirky and inventive use of words and phrases.

As a reader, be prepared to find n
Jul 26, 2012 D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i've tried and failed several times to put into words the fullness of my admiration for this author. then:

Luís C.
I go everywhere twice. The first one to have a false impression, and the second time to strengthen it.
Dec 20, 2007 Spiros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Graham Greene and THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET
I came back to this book for a couple of reasons; first, because I am about the lose my "Staff Favorite" pick at work (feckless customers who don't realize what a wonderful book Kurosawa's SOMETHING LIKE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY truly is!) and am thinking about using this as a replacement, and secondly, because I recently read YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, which, however flawed it is as a novel, shares some of the linguistic concerns that inform DeLillo's novel.
Set in the period just before and during the 1979 r
Vit Babenco
Jan 15, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Citizens of the globe, expatriates, failed marriages, mismatched unions… The Names begins like a story by John Cheever
“Nothing sticks to us but smoke in our hair and clothes. It is dead time. It never happened until it happens again. Then it never happened.”
Everyone becomes a perennial tourist, an inadvertent traveler and life goes on in continuous transition…
“This is where I want to be. History. It’s in the air. Events are linking all these countries. What do we talk about over dinner, all of
Oct 10, 2014 Sookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
There you are sitting with your handful of friends and acquaintances you managed to scavenge in a foreign country, drinking local wine and talking about the politics of your own country. You experience alienation from your country after being away for so long and still feel foreign where you have currently planted your roots in. Its a weird limbo to be in. Add traveling to the mix, you are living out of suitcases and hotel rooms, dangling conversations in airport bars, flirting while changing la ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
i Novemila nomi di Dio e il peso della Conoscenza

James è un analista di rischio in Medio Oriente negli anni settanta, non che si stesse meglio di adesso, era solo l'inizio di quel che c'è ora, ha una serie di amici che fanno i banchieri, gli imprenditori e altre cose vaghe, sono tutti insieme al momento in Grecia, con le mogli che fanno vento e polvere per distrarre gli spiati dall'attenzione degli spioni e viceversa...vanno a cena, chiacchierano domanda più frequente che
Feb 28, 2014 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
This is the first Delillo novel I've read that I think I've actually enjoyed. His obsessions with American history and American mythology can be so cornily portentous that a lot of the time it seems like the only thing he wants to convince you of is his how important his books are. But somehow this novel, which is set almost entirely in the eastern Mediterranean, in a world of early 1980's American expats idly wandering around pictaresque Greek islands and middle eastern desert ruins half-follow ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started off liking the book, but about halfway through I was bored and annoyed by the characters' distanced, anthropological view of themselves and each other. Every connection explored was done so through intense analysis, but seemed to lack true feeling. It became really hard to care about any of the characters since they seemed so blase, even when discussing emotional ties. That combined with a meandering plot that was based more on mood and worldly observations than a narrative arc, made t ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Clifford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
The Names by Don DeLillo is a fascinating but somewhat fuzzy book. Set primarily in Greece, it tells the story of James Axton, an American who develops risk analyses, those odd-sounding reports used by international investors and insurers. When the book was published in 1982, would readers have suspected that Axton worked for the CIA? It was the first thing I thought of.

But Axton's work is only a part of this intricate story about language, alphabets, secrecy, and cultural identity.

See the rest
Thank you Mr. Graye for recommending this book as my next Don DeLillo read, as I navigate thru his body of work, this being my fourth. There are few authors who have received the gift of perfecting every sentence laid down, absolutely right in the place they belong, throughout the length of the entire novel. Of course DeLillo is one of these artists, and he doesn't disappoint here. Sheer perfection throughout.

Honestly, uhhh, well, no, never mind. Some things are better left unsaid, left to the
Sep 22, 2015 Andrea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DeLillo's writing is so pretentious. He disregards plot in order to create art, which is a noble effort to make but leaves many readers, including me, wanting more. The rape scene was also extremely distasteful and added nothing to the plot, only establishing the main character as a misogynist asshole. Necessary? No. I've heard that White Noise is better, but after reading The Names, I don't want to read any more of DeLillo's work unless academics compel me (which was the case for this one).
Mar 06, 2007 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of beauty, loss, pain and barest hope.
Mao II and The Names are tours de force of elliptical language, bracingly visceral imagery and the post-art centered world where terrorism is the new means to the hearts and minds of the masses. A deep melancholy stains every page and the climaxes are at once hushed, claustrophobic and explosively open. I'm not sure if my contradictory reviews make me or Delillo more Buck Mulligan, but either way, it's all here.
Dec 21, 2007 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book's sole flaw - (if you discount its lack of popular "entertainment value") - is the device of the murders among DeLillo's otherwise brilliant political commentary and incisive investigation into relationships, "Americana" and language itself. The murders, and the ensuing speculative dialogue surrounding them, however, clank and clunk through the novel's otherwise perfect structure and superior phrasing.
Amante Libri
Jul 11, 2016 Amante Libri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'ho trovato complesso, un thriller atipico in cui l'adrenalina non scorre per le vicende raccontate, ma per i picchi alti che raggiungono la narrazione, lo stile, il linguaggio.
Un esempio di come un bel libro può essere tale grazie (quasi) esclusivamente alla bravura dello scrittore. DeLillo è bravissimo!

I nomi
Don DeLillo
Traduzione: Amalia Pistilli
Editore: Einaudi
Pag: 393
Voto: 4/5
Dec 10, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This has to be the densest DeLillo novel I've read. There's a large cast of characters, multiple plot-lines, and some serious theoretical/thematic stuff going on, all in under 350 pages. The one thing DeLillo gets criticized for the most, it seems, is that he's prone to letting style run rampant, leaving his novels empty and vapid. I've never really felt this way about any of his books, though this one seemed to come the closest. All the characters are kept at a great distance from the reader, e ...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicada en

Uno de los criterios más usados hoy en día (y de los que más desconfío) a la hora de recomendar un libro es ese vocablo, tan descriptivo y a la vez manido, que se incluye en frases como: “este libro te engancha desde el primer momento y ya no lo puedes dejar“; sí, el vocablo al que me refiero es “enganchar”.

No ya por las connotaciones asociadas a la adicción que pueda tener, sino porque este grado de “enganche” suele ser inversamente proporcio
Jan 23, 2008 Schuyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I struggled with this book. And if anyone loves DeLillo's lesser works, it's me, but this one (of the 10 DeLillo novels I've read) was by far the most abstract, confusing, and for the most part, boring of his works. Kinda empty feeling too. All the reviews and blurbs I've read talk about The Names being the novel that launched his literary career but I'm not seeing it. That being said, DeLillo followed The Names with four stunning works, White Noise (1985), Libra (1988), Mao II (1991), and Under ...more
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Constant Reader 17 71 Jan 19, 2013 08:32PM  
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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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“How I would enjoy being told the novel is dead. How liberating to work in the margins, outside a central perception. You are the ghoul of literature.” 395 likes
“I've come to think of Europe as a hardcover book, America as the paperback version.” 14 likes
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