Elliot's Reviews > White Noise

White Noise by Don DeLillo
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Apr 04, 07

Recommended for: People experiencing feelings of detachment or dread
Read in November, 2001

This is probably my favorite novel of all time, so I was a bit frustrated when a friend I recommended it to didn't like it enough to finish it. I think that you have to feel a bit isolated (but be maintaining your sense of humor) in order to enjoy this book. For me, it perfectly articulated the end-of-the-millennium dread I was experiencing (and periodically continue to experience). The themes that resonate with me the most are the quantifying of mortality (to be able to see your statistical odds of living/dying, to be able to take a drug that will quell your fear of death), and the detached way we witness awesome/horrific spectacles. The description of the man-made disaster in this book mirrored how I felt while watching 9/11 unfold on TV: there was no moral judgment, or even much emotion at first. Just awe. Delillo's narrator never passes judgment on other characters or their actions, or himself. He's just able to recognize everyday things (his wife's image on television, massive chemical spills, numbers on a sheet of paper indicating his immanent demise) as significant. The prose is very poetic throughout the book, and the way Delillo leaves corporate slogans and brand names out of context, just hanging there, captures some feeling I have about contemporary commercial life.
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