Fantastic writing -- layered, dimensional, and not too tightly controlled. I can't remember where I heard it, but the titular story took something likFantastic writing -- layered, dimensional, and not too tightly controlled. I can't remember where I heard it, but the titular story took something like a decade (or six years or some lengthy amount of time) to write. But obviously good things come out of patience. Some of the stories ("Fialta" in particular) would alternatively annoy me and wow me, with try-hard sentiment followed by beautiful, poetic, well-earned prose in the next paragraph. It's all basically set on campuses or in the homes and minds of intellectuals, places already picked over by so many writers since that territory is so close to their lives. But, Rebecca Lee earns her place in that world with Bobcat. ...more
The best stories were "Blight," "Pet Milk," and "Hot Ice" because they were the most direct and affecting. I'm sure some might disagree, but I found "The best stories were "Blight," "Pet Milk," and "Hot Ice" because they were the most direct and affecting. I'm sure some might disagree, but I found "Nighthawks" tedious and overwrought--like a way too long prose poem in story form. The short interludes between stories were all great....more
I have a complex relationship with postmodernism. The period's trademark irony and satirical humor can be a bit of a downer sometimes, but the subjectI have a complex relationship with postmodernism. The period's trademark irony and satirical humor can be a bit of a downer sometimes, but the subjects tackled by writers like DeLillo are important to me. That being said, White Noise was great. DeLillo's prose was delectable, and the first 100 pages contained some of the most beautiful--if foreboding--musings on the American family I've ever read. I tore through the second part of the book, where an "airborne toxic event" makes mortality into an overbearing reality for the main character, Jack Gladney.
It's in the last third of the novel that I started to be put off a bit by the dark humor and irony so characteristic of postmodernists. It worked in many regards, critiquing consumerism and materialism, as well as pointing out our culture's obsessive fear of death. When it comes to some of the powerful scenes, such as the color and noise of a grocery store, I am reminded of a quote by David Foster Wallace:
If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.
There were of course other takeaways from the book, especially given its current of fearing death, lapping on every other page.
That DFW quote is from a commencement address he delivered, but it also brings to mind one of my favorite Books: Infinite Jest. The difference between David Foster Wallace's take on some of the same subjects in Infinite Jest and DeLillo's in White Noise are several: prose style, structure, and placement in the greater context of postmodernism vs. 'metamodernism.' It comes down to the fact that writers like Wallace have injected sincerity into their characters and plots, whereas I was left cold, numb after finishing White Noise. That's not to say the book was bad; it was great, but having read another writer who in many ways responded to DeLillo in his own writing makes it hard for me to rate White Noise five stars. And I feel awful always comparing what I read to my experience reading Infinite Jest but perhaps that speaks to how much that novel affected me and how well it responded to postmodern themes of the mid to late twentieth century.
If none of that mattered to you, at least read White Noise to see how masterfully DeLillo can string words together....more
I am among those readers of McCarthy who found him because of THE ROAD and its critical acclaim, so it stands to reason that I would like his other woI am among those readers of McCarthy who found him because of THE ROAD and its critical acclaim, so it stands to reason that I would like his other work, even those books associated more with the western genre. ALL THE PRETTY HORSES was published the same year I was born. I loved it. The book dances the line between genre fiction and literary fiction, and that's great considering I sometimes abhor the literary condescension and pyrotechnics in so-called literary fiction. The book deals with questions of country, faith, fate, love, individualism, and more. It does so through the lens of characters I liked, a rugged and actively-involved setting, and a prose style which I found refreshingly simple but laced with deep, and sometimes biblical, subtext. ...more
This book exceeded my expectations. I had never read Phillip K. Dick--or any science fiction, for that matter--and went into the book thinking that itThis book exceeded my expectations. I had never read Phillip K. Dick--or any science fiction, for that matter--and went into the book thinking that it would be limited by having to adhere to genre fiction. Also, I have never seen Bladerunner, so I really went into this blindly.
The book was great because it dealt in the world of genre fiction--androids, fake animals, post nuclear war emigration to Mars, and all the rest--yet its themes were complex and really made me think. The constant battle between reality and illusion is the preeminent theme of the novel, yet Dick doesn't necessarily take a stance on it. And despite his saying in interviews after its publication that, essentially, he loathed the androids because of their lack of empathy, his own writing contradicts that view, at times. It's complex and confusing and makes you think longer than it takes to pass your eyes over the text. The last book that I can really remember making me do that was David Foster Wallace's INFINITE JEST, which is of course a much longer and more difficult to parse text. But some of the themes of authenticity and of what it means to be human, to be connected to the world around us, cross over between both books. For that reason and its quick, easy-to-read style, I give DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? 4 stars, and will likely explore science fiction and Dick's work more....more
I was detached while reading it, which is the point. The first thirty pages have some great characterization. And it made me laugh and cringe throughoI was detached while reading it, which is the point. The first thirty pages have some great characterization. And it made me laugh and cringe throughout....more