Cbj's Reviews > Americana

Americana by Don DeLillo
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's review
Aug 20, 11

bookshelves: tired-of-modern-life
Read from August 10 to 20, 2011

"This is the only country in the world that has funny violence."

AMERICANA begins with a new years eve party attended by the main character David and his date B.G.Haines. Over the course of the boring and stifling party, David mulls on the essence of Western civilization (which is to separate from your partner and meet exciting people at a party and then tell each other how boring it was at the end of the night), cringes at how you have to laugh at jokes directed at your race and ancestry, makes a plan for a cross country trip across America with an American-Indian woman, loses his date and spits phlegm into an ice tray in frustration. That's the first chapter. It's a great start. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel never really measures up to the first chapter.

David is a television executive working in the special artistic division of a TV network. He is the youngest and seems to have a bright career ahead of him. But he is sick of the lies and hypocrisy that are a part of the life at a TV network. Moreover, his show is close to getting cancelled.

David takes a cross country trip across America with three of his buddies. He is supposed to reach an Indian reservation to shoot a documentary for his network. But he never turns up. Instead, he shoots a documentary in a small American town. But David's disillusionment and frustration grows as he penetrates deeper into small town America. A visit to a small colony of Indians and whites offers some redemption (Anything's better than working for the death machine, the white girl in the colony tells him). The chapters after David leaves his job were tedious. The parts about his childhood and early adolescence were nice. But I really didn't understand how it was all connected to his later life.

Overall, this was a very frustrating read with small rewarding bits in between. I cannot say I got all of it. Many of the dream sequences went completely over my head. I liked it enough to want to read more of De Lilio.

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Reading Progress

08/10/2011 page 66
08/14/2011 page 213
46.92% "I read Michel Houellebecq's WHATEVER around a month ago. I don't know if you could compare a French and an American writer. Anyway, AMERICANA is about a television executive who is incredibly bored and disillusioned with his job and the hypocrisy of his colleagues. Both novels begin with a stifling party. David, the protagonist of AMERICANA is nothing like Michel in WHATEVER, though. More when I'm finished."
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