Brent Legault's Reviews > Players

Players by Don DeLillo
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Nov 16, 07

Recommended for: secret-smilers, newlyweds
Read in October, 2007

I almost put this book down after I read its first paragraph because it used the phrase "self-realizing." I don't like that kind of mumbo-jumbo. But I read on thinking that Delillo could be sending up his decade, his time, the 1970's in this case, when the novel was published. Perhaps, I thought, he's just showing us what fools say, what fools do.

But after finishing it, I'm not sure what Delillo thinks. But I know what I think. And I think that this novel, like all of his books that I've read, alternates between brilliant and insipid. There are many, many lines, particularly in the narrative, that made me wince from their beauty. Many lines I wish I'd written myself. But much of his dialogue is deadly. Deadly like this:

"Good luck."
"Get into the grass."
"It has things."
"Come on, Laws, sink in, be one, merge."
"Be one with the grass."
"The earth, the ground."
"Earth, creature, touch."
"Blend," she said.
"Air, trees."
"Feel wind."
"Birds, fly, look."
"Wing, beak."
"Sounds they make, calling."

That sort of made me want to quit the book again. Or at least, it made me want to leap over all those quotation marks, get to something worth getting to.

There were times in the novel that I thought I was reading a practice run for Libra. All the talk of Castro and Cuba and Oswald and New Orleans and Camp Street. I thought I was reading a prologue for something else. In fact, throughout most of the novel, I felt disconnected, more so than I normally feel while I'm looking at words on a page in a book. I was like one of the main characters who ". . .hadn't been able to feel wholly engaged. It was happening around him somehow. He was slipping right through."

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I know what you're saying about the dialogue. I feel he used this form effectively in Ratner's Star with Billy's quotes, but I've found it incredibly frustrating in some of his other novels. I suppose it works in Ratner's Star (for me) because it's coming out of an antisocial child genius' mouth. Either way, I don't know if I have laughed so hard or remembered so long a one-liner from a book as when Billy says "I see you're growing a beard."


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