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White Noise

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"White Noise" tells the story of Jack Gladney and his wife Babette who are both afraid of death. Jack is head of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. His colleague Murray runs a seminar on car crashes. Together they ponder the instances of celebrity death from Elvis to Marilyn to Hitler. Through the brilliant and often very funny dialogue between Jack and Murray, DeLillo exposes our common obsessions with mortality and delineates Jack and Babette's touching relationship and their biggest fear - who will die first?

310 pages, Paperback

First published January 21, 1985

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About the author

Don DeLillo

94 books5,623 followers
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 Book Award (Underworld, 1998).

DeLillo's sixteenth novel, Point Omega, was published in February, 2010.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,414 reviews
Profile Image for amber.
42 reviews54 followers
October 9, 2007
My first Don DeLillo. Not for people who use the word postulate. My experience was almost entirely ruined by the used copy I received which had notes in the margins. It says "Help" when Jack Gladney talks about Hitler on multiple pages (Has this person never heard of Hitler?), it says "sheesh" when his son, Heinrich, goes into a long-winded ramble about brain chemistry and how he couldn't know what he really wants. The best of all the marginal note stupidity from anonymous though, is the discussion the Gladney's have on the way to the mall, chapter 17. The family is making idle small talk, trying to remember the name of the "...surfer movie I saw once where they travel all over the world." They go back and forth incorrectly guessing the title, before getting swept away into another discussion. This reader wrote "never ending summer" underneath the last guess. YOU ASSHOLE. Who the hell were you trying to impress here? You knew the real name of the movie so you thought you would write it down in the margin? These are fictional characters, not your dumb-ass modern lit class. And the jackass got the name of the movie wrong - it's ENDLESS SUMMER, you dumb fuck. Good book.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
July 21, 2020
I had this babysitter named Bernice who also was the postmistress of our wind swept Kansas town. My mom would drop me off at the post office which I'm pretty sure using the post office as a day care may have been against regulation, but this was small town America. Bernice was ultra-religious and obsessed with death. She had me convinced that she had a pact with GOD that when her time came she would ascend on a cloud in the same manner as Jesus Christ.


She told me if I prayed fervently I too would receive this magnanimous non-death and get my own cloud ride to heaven.

It was only a matter of weeks later that I robbed the post office.

My first felony at 4.

Bernice was taking an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom and while she was distracted I filled my pockets with every coin from the wooden box cash register and walked the 1/4 of mile home to my house. I was building a town on the kitchen table: a church(cathedral),post office, gas station, and grocery store, all the buildings I knew existed in my rather constricted universe. My building material was these wonderful cylindrical metal pieces that I had liberated from the post office.

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I was new to this criminal life and didn't realize the first place they look for you after committing a crime is at your house. Yep, I was nabbed. The adults were really excited about something. I gave them my best innocent look.


I got the waggle of the finger and the furrowed brow from Bernice. She leaned over and whispered in my ear "you just lost your cloud". Okay all the yelling and the threats had bounced off me like marshmallow bullets, but those five words started the water works, and guilt wrapped in a furry fear blanket was born.

Jack and Babette Gladney are an odd, but loving couple, with odd, hyper-intelligent children. Jack has found a niche teaching a class on Hitler at the university and Babette reads tabloids to blind people. Their lives are going well except for a gnawing, growing fear of death that starts to create cracks in the stability of their relationship and put strain on the family unit. They are afraid of death, but they are also afraid of dying last. Each wants to depart before the other. Then an airborne toxic event comes to town:


Not that one.


This one.

They are forced to evacuate their home and Jack becomes exposed to the deadly toxic cloud changing his fears from not knowing when or how he is going to die, to having a realized version of his death that starts with a kernel of fear and grows into a corn field of panic. (It is too bad he didn't know Bernice. Her cloud theory might have calmed him down.) He talks to experts. Jack thinks about what it means to be dead.

"The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of dead? They are also in the ground, of course, asleep and crumbling. Perhaps we are what they dream."

Babette answers an ad in the newspaper for an experimental drug that will chemically alter a person's perception of death. It will make you forget you are going to die. She starts to experience memory loss and erratic behavior. Jack keeps asking questions and the kids keep wanting answers and finally she confesses. This is the moment in the book where Delillo gives me a solid punch to the kidneys. Babette's level of betrayal, which also adds more strings to the plot, was so unexpected I just didn't see it coming. Once Jack learns the truth about the pills, even knowing the side effects, he wants those pills. He wants to forget. He finds a pill and takes it to his friend Winnie to be analysed. She tells him it is a remarkable piece of engineering, but....

"I think what you do, Jack, is forget the medicine in the tablet. There is no medicine, obviously."
She was right. They were all right. Go on with my life, raise my kids, teach my students.
"I'm still sad, Winnie, but you've given my sadness a richness and depth it has never known before."
She turned away, blushing.
I said, "You're more than a fair-weather friend--you're a true enemy."
She turned exceedingly red.
I said, "Brilliant people never think of the lives they smash, being brilliant."

Jack lurches onward after the magic pill and becomes more and more unstable as he spends more and more time in his own mind obsessed about a future death rather than living in the present.

The dialogue between the Gladney family is worth the price of admission to the book. The kids are intently searching for truths and the adults are desperately trying to sidestep the truth. I could have added 50 great one liners to this review, but part of the reason I don't watch comedic movies is the trailers always give away the best lines. I vacillated on the scoring for this book. I was at 3 stars about half way through the book then jumped to five stars. I went to bed thinking four stars. I woke up this morning and have decided, for now, to stick with five stars. The book is full of little gems, pockets of philosophy that left me with lingering doubts about my own beliefs. Understanding a character like Jack goes a long way towards understanding...well everything. I adore my mind and at the same time I fear it. I don't want it to turn on me because frankly it knows too much about me.

"That's what it all comes down to in the end," he said. "A person spends his life saying good-bye to other people. How does he say good-bye to himself?"

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,425 reviews3,385 followers
October 10, 2021
It is nice to live in the land of plenty – food is merchandise, technology is merchandise, health is merchandise, education is merchandise, culture is merchandise… And everything is mass-produced and second-rate… And you can’t consume it all.
Heinrich’s hairline is beginning to recede. I wonder about this. Did his mother consume some kind of gene-piercing substance when she was pregnant? Am I at fault somehow? Have I raised him, unwittingly, in the vicinity of a chemical dump site, in the path of air currents that carry industrial wastes capable of producing scalp degeneration, glorious sunsets? (People say the sunsets around here were not nearly so stunning thirty or forty years ago.) Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death.

Consuming becomes living… And consuming too much turns one’s thoughts into an annoying white noise… And then thanatomania and thanatophobia start creeping in… And there is nowhere to run in the land of plenty.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
855 reviews5,881 followers
January 16, 2023
All plots tend to move deathward,’ lectures Jack Gladney, the Hitler studies teacher central to Don DeLillo’s White Noise, ‘this is the nature of plots.’ This comic masterpiece of postmodern anxieties does indeed move towards death—the meta-statement as much a Chekov’s gun as the actual gun Gladney is given—yet the whole wild ride is permeated and beleaguered by thought of the inevitability of death. Just like all of us. Though originally titled Panasonic, the title White Noise is a nod to the constant white noise of society that chirps, hums and whirs to the cacophonous tune of industry, entertainment and consumerism that numb our minds to our mortality salience, DeLillo interrogate our aversion to death in a culture where consumerism has practically become the new religion and steers it into the chaos of disaster emergency. White Noise hits harder than it did when I first read it over a decade ago and the novel feels just as urgent and relevant as ever, especially with a global pandemic now resonating through society. DeLillo’s love for language and philosophical investigations come alive in this humorous and insightful National Book Award winning novel, making for a scathing criticism that finds the pulse on US consumerist society and our trepidations of our own death and decay.

Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death.

Published in 1985, White Noise came out just a year before the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster and amidst an increasingly technology anxious world. ‘The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear,’ DeLillo writes, and as technology plays an increasing role in every aspect of society from medicine to communication there are always the fears that what we create may be our undoing. White Noise is a book jittering with anxieties, from the pre-eminent Hitler expert’s imposter syndrome over not being able to speak German to the experimental drug, Dylar, which claims to remove your fears and obsessive thoughts about death, and DeLillo brilliantly depicts a death avoidance society that has plunged itself into consumerism and symbolic living to stave off the creeping reality of death and finality as an form of terror management theory. But with each step we take to push away death, it still comes. ‘Every advance in knowledge and technique is matched by a new kind of death, a new strain. Death adapts, like a viral agent.’ What a great line, honestly.

No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.

Much of the novel, told through Jack often in dramatic fashion that dips into something akin to what his classroom lectures would sound like, investigates the different ‘white noises’ of the book and how death is always a major fulcrum for our psychological responses in the world. There is the idea that death makes life precious, questioning if ‘anything you do in this life would have beauty and meaning without the knowledge you carry of a final line, a border or limit,’ but also the rebuttal that ‘what good is a preciousness based on fear and anxiety?’ He and his fifth wife, Babette, often discuss who they hope dies first, weighing out if their fear or loneliness overrides their fear of death, and acknowledging the inevitability that their many children will grow up and out of the house. Family, in a way, is a sort of white noise too. Or any sort of group to belong in.
To become a crowd is to keep out death. To break off from a crowd is to risk death as an individual, to face dying alone. Crowds came for this reason above all others. They were there to be a crowd.

Jack is all too aware of this as the leading Hitler scholar, arguing ‘Hitler was larger that death,’ which points to how authoritarianism rises out of fears and anxieties. Fear of the unknown, the Other, collapse, etc., all drives people towards a group mentality. When a sudden accident occurs in their town—The Airborne Toxic Event—leaving a great dark cloud over town like an unavoidable symbol of death, thoughts of mortality reach a fever pitch.

I feel sad for people and the queer part we play in our own disasters.

According to Trauma Management Theory, mortality salience (the awareness of one’s death) wedded to death anxiety in incidents like this (or, say, global COVID) causes people to solidify their worldview and react in ways they feel will defend their social groups. To become a crowd, as Jack says, to boost self-esteem which TMT states reduces mortality salience. It is an existential terror of death, coupled with feeling a lack of control against the inevitable, that causes people to then react in ways to try and assert control over some aspect of their life. The higher the fear of death/lack of control, the more people try to push it out or scapegoat it, blaming others, or reacting violently. This is especially true of people who have an overinflated desire to be controlling (think of the men two weeks into the COVID pandemic so overcome with fears of their own mortality they broke into my State’s capitol building armed for murder). This idea also exists in John Steinbeck’s theory of the phalanx about crowd mentality. The idea is that being reactionary is an attempt to assert control on a situation that feels beyond you, and in White Noise attempts to control or assuage death are everywhere from the rampant consumerism to the Dylar drug. Think of the crowds, the groups, the solidifying of ideologies we’ve seen in the past few years in reaction to, or grifting off of, a global pandemic. Even I found myself reacting, such as really launching back into running at this time. As someone that loves reading for subtext, in my mind in longer runs I would chide myself “what are you running from, eh? Is it ?” We all find our soothing methods and self-medicating behaviors.

It is surely possible to be awed by a thing that threatens your life, to see it as a cosmic force, so much larger than yourself, more powerful, created by elemental and wilful rhythms.

But there is also a general sense of trying to assert control in the general uncertainty of the world. With the Airborne Toxic Event there is the uncertainty of what to do and what is even happening. ‘In a crisis the true facts are whatever other people say they are,’ DeLillo writes, ‘no one’s knowledge is less secure than your own.’ Had this been written today that would feel very on the nose amidst the past years where grifting off misinformation and gaslighting increased the uncertainties of truth. White Noise also touches on distrust of authority, who are often as uncertain as everyone else but tasked with upholding a false certainty. There is a brilliant dark humor in aspects such as SIMUVAC running simulation evacuations though it is a real evacuation.
It seems that danger assigns to public voices the responsibility of a rhythm, as if in metrical units there is a coherence we can use to balance whatever senseless and furious event is about to come rushing around our heads.

This makes me think of our current age of social media where, sure, it is great everyone gets a voice but the element of social media algorithms boosting voices based more on popularity (and paid content) can make it difficult to parse out which voices have actual authority on subjects or are even worth listening to. You have to sift through the static sometimes wondering “is this actually a bad take?” Or “is this even accurate?” and then there is the capitalist aspects of society where opinions are valued most due to profitability (even social profitability such as reinforcing one’s own world view) only increasing the maelstrom of bad faith framing. We live in a white noise of opinions crackling in social media static where the loudest opinions are those attempting to discredit others and often motivated by self-preservation over “truth”.

I love the uncertainty of the effects from the disaster that DeLillo instills, such as Jack receiving a timeline towards death that seems indistinguishable from a timeline of death by aging. It just becomes a lingering idea just like the already regular thoughts of inevitable death. Another aspect I truly appreciate is how DeLillo keys into how uncertainty leads to art:
The toxic event had released a spirit of imagination. People spun tales, others listened spellbound. There was a growing respect for the vivid rumor, the most chilling tale… We began to marvel at our own ability to manufacture awe.

We pass on stories, write songs or poems that capture the current mood and moment, and these are the artifacts of a disaster that become the footholds to scale an understanding of a culture in a place and time in hindsight. But above all, it is all ways we compensate for control in the face of uncertainty.

This accounts for the philosophical tone the novel takes, one part earnest philosophical investigation and another part lampooning academic seriousness. Jack and his colleague friend Murray engage in circuitous discourses on a wide variety of topics throughout the book with a certainty only a learned academic can muster, though the certainty of their conclusions is vague. Though they are able to leap into the ways ‘everything is concealed in symbolism, hidden by veils of mystery and layers of cultural material.’ This opens the narrative up for incredible observations, however, with gorgeous passages on everything from the cultural signifiers in supermarkets to a co-lecture on Elvis and Hitler’s relationships with their mothers. Take Murray’s explanation of supermarkets for example:
Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.

The simulation of religious experience colors the novel in many ways, such as Jack’s daughter saying brand names—Toyota Celica—in her sleep ‘like the name of an ancient power in the sky.’ Consumerism has replaced God in America and even the nuns don’t believe but put up a front because ‘the nonbelievers need the believers. They are desperate to have someone believe,’ and even mocks Jack for thinking anyone would sanely believe in a god. It is the burden of worry people impose on status figures like nuns, doctors and even politicians, handing them the reigns of reality to grapple with death as a way of avoiding it. Consuming, however, becomes the biggest short-cut to a sense of self-esteem that would stave off mortality salience, such as the following on the effects of purchasing:
I began to grow in value and self regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed. Brightness settled around me.

It becomes a stand-in for real life, like tv plots and literature become a stand-in for life to put the death on the screen or the page, in the aisle and behind the counters.

This is, perhaps, where I find DeLillo to be at his finest: discussing issues of phenomenology and language. We see much of the world as a symbolic replica of what Martin Heidegger termed dasein, or the thing-in-and-of-itself. Early in the novel, Jack and Murray visit ‘the most photographed bridge’ where they observe nobody sees the actual bridge, only the spectacle of it and ‘[t]hey are taking pictures of taking pictures.’ They exist in Guy Debord’s society of the spectacle. Which is why symbolism is so central to the novel as a sense of control. Jack mentions of Babette all the ways that are ‘the point of Babette,’ constructing a literary reality over the true, chaotic reality that is life (and also attempting to assert a sense of control). Which is much of what literature is, carefully constructing a world of ideas we can control and cast death as a character as opposed to a real force that strikes without warning.

The ultimate form of control against death, it seems, is violence. ‘The killer, in theory, attempts to defeat his own death by killing others. He buys time, he buys life.’ Jack receives a gun from his father-in-law (there are some great anxieties of masculinity here, with Jack feeling lesser due to his inability for household repairs that Vernon finds second nature) and, as all plots move deathward, it is no surprise this culminates into a violent confrontation with the man sleeping with his wife in a way that seem adjacent to a similar climax in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Here we witness a major side-effect of Dylar is to interpret words literally, being unable to tell signifier from the signified, and shouting ‘ plunging aircraft’ causes his target to react as if there is in fact a plane crash occurring. This is a clever nod to the idea that society moving into the spectacle to cover reality erodes our ability to differentiate between symbol and actuality.

May the days be aimless. Let the seasons drift. Do not advance the action according to a plan.

Ultimately, we are left to question if all narrative in life merely moves towards death or if narrative is a way to ‘seek shape and control’ our lives during our limited time. Should we drift and let things come as they may, knowing the cliff of death will be here eventually? Or should we plot and plunge towards death. White Noise is a fabulous book and a deserving winner of the National Book Award (DeLillo, known for a distaste for public fame accepted the award in person saying ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t be here tonight, but I thank you all for coming.’). Comedic and insightful, with a penchant for the pretentious as part of the gag, White Noise has a lasting power that seems all the more relevant in a modern age of social media (symbolic of ‘authentic’ communication?), late-stage capitalism, misinformation and a literal global pandemic. It is an excellent look at the wear mortality salience drives people into empty symbols or consumerism or religion and into crowd mentality like authoritarianism to abate the loss of control against the reality of finality. DeLillo knocks it out of the park in White Noise with a smart and flowing prose that soars through the stratosphere in order to carry the heady philosophical investigations and this is certainly a book worth revisiting again and again.


How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?
Profile Image for Dorothea.
120 reviews49 followers
October 13, 2013
Reading White Noise by Don DeLillo is the literary equivalent of 18 paranoid hours of non-stop channel surfing while chain-smoking and nursing a migraine in a smoggy, over-crowded city. On meth.

Do you want to know why this is one of the most important books of the 20th century? Because it's a good example of the postmodern simulacra, absurdist philosophy that plagued the latter half of the 20th century and still plagues us today. I felt bleak and empty for several days after reading this book, and I'm still recovering.

It had a lot of potential. It could have been a great commentary on life in a media-saturated society that worships safety and bright colors in the temples of grocery stores, a society that will suffocate in the toxic by-products of its own vain materialistic pleasures, conveniences and distractions.

But a great commentary would have been too meaningful and after all, this is the age of negation and disorder wherein everything is turned inside out, and to live fully without fear is to kill freely without hesitation. This is the age of futility wherein the best artists have to be indifferent or even hostile to supreme coherence and only depictions of anti-heroism will be praised and given National Book Awards.

DeLillo is a talented writer, but he wasted his talent in this work and missed an important opportunity to demand change. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset with his depiction of a dystopic American setting. The Toxic Airborne Event was brilliant, timely and necessary, but he never asks his readers to take even a cursory look at the causes and consequences of our toxin-producing lifestyle. And it was right there! I also take issue with his demonic proposal that there is liberation to be found in murder, that there is no immortality, that important "psychic data" can be gleamed from commercials and television programs.

Yeah, I know, it's only fiction, yeah I know, he meant something else entirely, turn it inside out and upside down and this is what he really meant, have a Coke and a Dylar and put a bullet in my head, it's opposite era!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews34.1k followers
May 1, 2017
So......I finally read this.....enjoyed it. I found myself comparing this book to a new family TV series with Eugene Levy called 'Schitt's Creek'. The most entertaining-FUNNY show, I've seen in years.
The dialogue is hilarious in both 'White Noise' and 'Schitt's Creek' between the parents and kids.
Jack Gladney's friend, Murray cracked me up! He reminded me of one of the characters on 'Schitt's Creek'.
Most of this book was comical to me.
From the beginning--I was shaking my head....
"What? REALLY? Jack has been married 4 'times'? What woman in their right mind would marry a man who has been married 3 times before her? Jack's wife, Babette, had to be a little bonkers to marry Jack. Reading for the blind was a perfect job for her - she could relate to blindness - first hand.
It was also funny that Jack worried about not being able the speak German even though he created a special program at the college where he teaches on Hitler studies.

Funny lines -- page after page. Did I read this book right? Was it ok to laugh as much as I did?? I mean I know there seemed to be so much fear of death....but somehow... I found it more comical - than serious.

I thought it was an easy FUN READ.... a 'mild' satire... fear of death, digital frontier justice, capitalism- capitalist bashing in sorts....consumerism....
Love the wise-ass - savvy hip kids...
Preposterous Fun!

DeLillo professionals?..... did I read it wrong?
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,304 followers
March 30, 2008
Ooh look! It's a can. Looks like it might have worms inside. Let's open it up again.

Updated (i.e. "final") review: March 30th, 2008

So. I had read three quarters of this and decided to chuck it, but last night my compulsive side won over, and I went ahead and finished it. I still can't wrap my mind around the notion that I should somehow regard it as a "great book of the 20th century", and none of the 19 comments in this thread to date really addresses why I should. So, I am asking for enlightenment.

To sum up my three main difficulties with the book:

(a) dialog that is clunky to the point of unreadability. It's so dreadful that I'm quite willing to believe it's deliberately implausible. But - assuming it's not just laziness and a tin ear - why would an author make such a choice? What's the point? Giving DeLillo the benefit of the doubt, and assuming he could have written believable dialog, what is the point of not using his gifts to the best of his ability, instead irritating the reader with substandard rubbishy 'conversations' that draw attention to their own lack of believability?
(b) "satire" whose effect is similar to assaulting the reader with a blunt instrument. Whether it's the repeated use of such tired and obvious devices as the random scattering of consumer product names throughout the text, or having his protagonist lead the department of "Hitler Studies", there's nothing remotely smart about it. This kind of heavy-handed bludgeoning is the hallmark of a very inferior writer. It insults the intelligence. Authors are generally praised for demonstrating subtlety and wit - why should DeLillo be given a pass?
(c) The lousy dialog is symptomatic of a related problem - the characters are thinly developed, cartoonishly described, to the point of caricature. Not to mention aspects of the plot that don't even bother to approximate reality (did you know that just rolling up your car window will create a hermetic seal, preventing any and all gas exchange with the outside world?). Again, hardly qualities we associate with good writing.

So I'm left with the question - why is DeLillo given a pass? At best, (if one believes he is capable of writing well) in this book he's being incredibly lazy and just phoning it in. Another possibility is that he's genuinely incompetent and actually mistakes his cartoonish efforts here for genuine wit. Either way, why should he be held to a lower critical standard?

Because that's what seems to happen with this book. People acknowledge that it is poorly written, with characters that border on caricature, that it's hard to read, then go ahead and give it 4 or 5 stars anyway. Why?

my original comments start here

OK. I'm 50 pages into this award-winning effort and there's something I just don't get. Why is this book stuffed with such gratingly implausible* dialog throughout? It's so unspeakably bad, I have to think it's deliberate. But why? What would be the point? DeLillo has already made the questionable choice to filter the entire story through the voice of a first-person narrator who was already irritating by page 2 and isn't getting any more likeable. If none of the characters has a believable voice, why should I read on?

*: entered as supporting evidence -

I've bought these peanuts before. They're round, cubical, pockmarked, seamed. Broken peanuts. A lot of dust at the bottom of the jar. But they taste good. Most of all I like the packages themselves. You were right, Jack. This is the last avant-garde. Bold new forms. The power to shock.

"Your wife's hair is a living wonder."
"Yes, it is."
"She has important hair."
"I think I know what you mean".

"Whatever's best for you."
"I want you to choose. It's sexier that way."
"One person chooses, the other reads. Don't we want a balance, a sort of give-and-take? Isn't that what makes it sexy?"
"A tautness, a suspense. First-rate. I will choose."

There's not a human being on the planet who would say the boldfaced stuff. Ever.

Further examples - even more egregious - can be found (famously) in B.R. Myers's "A Reader's Manifesto".

So why does this not bother all you readers who gave 5 stars to this book? Just askin'
Profile Image for Justin (Look Alive Books).
278 reviews2,259 followers
August 20, 2015
It's like how my mom still calls me if there is bad weather nearby, or if I'm out driving on a holiday where the roads could be filled with people who had too much to drink.

It's like when the grocery store parking lots stay full when snow is on the way because people think they may be stuck inside their house forever.

It's like how the news can report on how Coke can kill you so you start drinking Diet Coke, but then the artificial sweetener can give you cancer so you try to just drink water, but there could be bacteria in it unless you use a filter.

I loved this book.

It took me a long time to read it, not because I didn't like it, but because I wanted to savor it, take my time with it, underline quotes, let the dialogue marinate a little bit.

So, I should tell you that you can't go into the book looking for a thriller or an apocalyptic dystopian novel. The plot isn't going to suck you in and keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. It's the conversations between the characters, the wonderful way the sentences are structured, the jump from one scene to another, the commentary behind it all. That's what you're getting into.

The book hits on death, the media, fear, consumerism, and more. It was written a little while ago, but it didn't seem all that dated to me. From the first few pages I knew I had stumbled upon something special. Halfway through I was ready to tell the world to read it.

At the end, I put the book down on my lap, put my hands up to the sides of my head, fingertips pressed gently into my hair, then pulled my hands away while making the sound of an explosion quietly with my lips.

My mind was blown.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews147 followers
December 31, 2022
POP CULTURE UPDATE: Hey, it's a movie now! I was pretty satisfied; if anything it stayed TOO faithful to the book and I feel the style would be off-putting for anyone going in cold, like it wouldn't stand as a movie on its own cinematic merit.

Anyhow, for the curious here's my first impressions.


Car crash speech out of order
No barn!
Books on occult? (Played up more?)
Face in sheet? (jumpscared me good)
Lots of actual dialogue, but shortened
Shell logo was cool
gas station power?
Screen shadow puppets in evac shelter?
Gun from Murray, not Baba's dad?
(Murray still says the gun speech)
Lost bunny?
Wilder says "again"? Car in river, launch/jump?

No plane near-crash survivor speech
"Isn't fear news?" rant - same?

No snake pit kid
Babette shot? Babette at the hospital too?
No tricycle ride!
No kids training as simulation survivors

Act 3 gets funny. The surfer's sentimental treatment, the doctor's sing-song cadence.
Babette's confession & his reaction felt too like Driver's other work, out of character for Gladney but a striking performance.

Draws a clearer parallel with Mr Gray's disconnected TV dialogue and the kids' constant trivia - he is more pitiable in movie, but the "he was there the whole time" detail is not in the book and felt unnecessary

*Danny Elfman did the music!

Lady doctor role shortened - lose a lot of depth, just expository for Dylar
Generic brands only in end credits


Think of how much information, in the form of radio energy, there is flying through the air, all around us, all over the world, right now and all the time...Trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions of separate little bits of electronic information flying around the world through the air at all times. Think of that. Think of how busy the air is. Now realize this: A hundred years ago there was none. Nothing. Silence.
–George Carlin

"Is this true? Why did I say it? What does it mean?" (26)

I knew precious little about White Noise going in. I knew it was considered Don DeLillo's breakout novel, but since I also knew precious little about Don DeLillo going in that didn't really prepare me much. Well, DeLillo got a big laugh out of me literally on page one: "The women crisp and alert, in diet trim, knowing people's names. Their husbands content to measure out the time, distant but ungrudging, accomplished in parenthood, something about them suggesting massive insurance coverage." Delightful! I prepared myself for a laugh-out-loud satiric comedy lambasting American culture. And I got that, but also so much more. The 80s are so often criticized, with the 20/20 clarity of highsight, as being overly and overtly materialistic. DeLillo goes straight to the heart of the matter and lays bare the essential question for any culture and any individual, and not just those of great material wealth: what's it all FOR? Can we even tell what's valuable anymore, amid all the fevered babbling of this society?

DeLillo presents a family numbed by oversaturation of info and a world made docile with endless communication: "The smoke alarm went off in the hallway upstairs, either to let us know the battery had just died or because the house was on fire. We finished our lunch in silence." (8) There is an impressive and highly commendable network of threads linking scene to scene. Whenever narrator Jack's eye catches something, it's synthetic. Plastic, prepackaged, mass-produced and mass-marketed clutter infiltrates the scenery. Wherever anyone goes, there is a buzz of sound and a cacophonous flow of needless information. Everyone is presenting something, everyone is an audience member to someone else's presentation. DeLillo delivers these observations more as idle musings than targeted satire, a kind of directionless ennui. It all creates a subtle, creeping tension and a mood of paranoia and anxiety. It's highly evocative writing, like DeLillo is tickling at your lizard brain while he distracts your conscious attention elsewhere.

What's particularly dread-inducing is how the characters profess fervently the belief that this is the right thing to do, that intimacy means total and constant openness, that there is no such thing as oversharing. Jack avers early on, thinking of how he and his wife have made their marriage work: "No detail must be left out..." (30) Nothing. No detail. Not from any story, in any conversation, about any topic. But we, on the outside looking in and especially now 30+ years into the future, we can feel how exhausting this lifestyle is and can spot the deadly creeping poison of supersaturation and its ugly consequences long before any metaphor erupts to point directly towards it.

There's something very interesting as well in the structure: short, punchy, bursting chapters that advance in chugging pulses like a locomotive, like links snapping together in a chain, like the counting off of rosary beads. It was exhausting for me to read more than 10 or 20 pages in a sitting. I had to break it up and take time to let myself calm down, only to find when I picked the book up again it had continued to tick, diabolical and relentless like a time bomb. Like a chainsaw just puttering, idle, waiting for me to rev it back up again.

Act Two, DeLillo abruptly throws this template away and we simply sit with the family in one location. Still bombarded with information from a thousand channels, we have a sickening sense of motion even when the characters stay in one place. And then, just as abruptly, Act Three begins and everything is the same as Act One again, except now it's different altogether.

4.5 stars out of 5. Extremely memorable with something verging on greatness that seems frustratingly forever on the tip of DeLillo's tongue. I wish I could split the rating and give it a 4 thematically but a 5 for style. Sometimes a sentence would rise up seemingly out of nowhere and take my breath away. It's seriously that good, on a small scale. I have critiques of how everything hangs together in a bigger picture sense, and how belabored the point gets at certain stages, but I will remember this book for a lifetime.



My son has started watching "unboxing" videos. I cannot conceive of the appeal. I return to this book, now a slightly seasoned father, seeking to reassure myself: the kids are all right. The kids are all right. Even when I do not understand where they're heading, the kids are all right.

I understand this now to be a novel of anxiety. I was born the year this book was published. That must make me Wilder, the barely verbal tricycle rider. And now it is me who looks ahead toward an uncertain future while my own past grows strange, unfamiliar. But I am all right. I am all right. I am all right. My parents were all right, and I am all right, and the kids are all right.

Toyota Celica, help us all.


Brief thoughts after a 3rd reading:

Blunt and self-evident as everything is, there are in fact subtleties to uncover, various nuances in themes that reveal themselves in different settings and contexts. But still, I like the blunt stuff best.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
April 27, 2022
White Noise, (1985), Don DeLillo

White Noise is the eighth novel by Don DeLillo, published by Viking Press in 1985. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. White Noise is an example of postmodern literature.

White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies (though he hasn't taken German lessons until this year). He has been married five times to four women and rears a brood of children and stepchildren (Heinrich, Denise, Steffie, Wilder) with his current wife, Babette.

Jack and Babette are both extremely afraid of death; they frequently wonder which of them will be the first to die. The first part of White Noise, called "Waves and Radiation", is a chronicle of contemporary family life combined with academic satire.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «برفک»؛ «سر و صدای سفید»؛ «نویز سفید»؛ نویسنده: دان دلیلو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه جولای سال2016میلادی

عنوان: نویز سفید؛ نویسنده: دان دلیلو؛ مترجم نوشین ریشهری؛ تهران، نشر نغمه زندگی، سال1390؛ چاپ دیگر سال1393؛ در447ص؛ شابک9789642882946؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: سر و صدای سفید؛ نویسنده: دان دلیلو؛ مترجم محمدصادق رئیسی؛ تهران، روزگار، سال1392؛ در368ص؛ شابک9789643744779؛

عنوان: برفک؛ نویسنده: دان دلیلو؛ مترجم پیمان خاکسار؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، سال1394؛ در337ص؛ شابک9786002295538؛

س��ک سیاه و طنز، در کتابی که جایزه ی بهترین کتاب ملی سال1985میلادی، در «ایالات متحده آمریکا» را از آن خود کرده است؛ «برفک» کتابی است که مجله‌ ی «تایم» آن را در فهرست صد رمان برتر انگلیسی‌ زبان منتشر شده بین سال‌های1923میلادی تا سال2005میلادی آورده است؛ «برفک» در لیست یکهزارویک کتابیکه پیش از درگذشت باید آنها را خواند «گاردین» نیز، حضور دارد؛ در سال انتشارش «جایزه‌ ی ملی کتاب آمریکا» را دریافت کرد؛ در سال2006میلادی، «نیویورک‌ تایمز» با نظرسنجی از صدها نویسنده، و منتقد، و ویراستار، درخواست کرد تا بهترین آثار بیست و پنج سال بگذشته‌ در «آمریکا» را برگزینند؛ کتاب «برفک�� اثر دان دلیلو» یکی از آنها بود؛

داستان زندگی مردی است که پنج بار ازدواج ناموفق داشته است؛ دو زن او در کار جاسوسی بودند، با یک نفر دو بار ازدواج میکند؛ از هر کدام فرزندانی دارد، که چند تن از آنها با مادرانشان، و مابقی با «جَک» زندگی میکنند؛ عنوان «برفک»، برای حضور مردی است، که «جک»، در پایان ماجرای این داستان، از حضورش با خبر میشود، اما چون از چهره اش یادی و خبری ندارد، عنوان «برفک» را، برای او برمیگزیند؛ داستان شاید شبیه زندگی یک استاد دانشگاه همچو ...؛ یا دیگران شاید باشد؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,152 reviews1,690 followers
March 21, 2021

Ken Botto: Fort Winnebago, 1986.

L’incipit mi ha colpito, è molto bello:
Le station wagon arrivarono a mezzogiorno, lunga fila lucente che attraversò il settore occidentale del campus.
Ho pensato subito a un funerale, per esempio come all’inizio di The Big Chill. Un attimo dopo ho invece scoperto che questa scena, anche dal vago sapore western (le carovane erano composte da wagon) raccontava l’inizio di un nuovo anno scolastico, i genitori che accompagnano i figli al college, pacchi scatole e valigie scaricate, un’umanità che si separa, si saluta, ma anche che s’incontra per la prima volta.

Ken Botto: Big Burger, 1994.

Jack o J.A.K e Babette o Baba sono sposati e vivono insieme a una nidiata di figli di varia età nati da matrimoni diversi che hanno preceduto il loro. Incluso il più piccolo, Wilder, che ha solo tre anni, e un vocabolario che non supera le venticinque parole, e al supermercato vuole sempre stare seduto nel carrello della spesa, anche se qualche volta sbaglia carrello e genitore: Wilder è figlio del precedente matrimonio di Babette, e nel finale mi ha tenuto col fiato sospeso.
Le madri e i padri da cui hanno divorziato vivono chi amministrando un ashram nel Montana, chi raccogliendo fondi per gli incidenti nucleari, chi lavorando part-time per la CIA, chi da diplomatico con la passione di nascondersi nella giungla, chi facendo ricerche o trivellazioni nell’Australia occidentale. È la globalizzazione?
Uno schemino posto all’inizio del libro con l’albero familiare e le freccette per collegare chi a chi avrebbe giovato: difficile capire chi è il secondo genitore di ciascun minorenne, o perché Jack sposa due volte la stessa donna, perché il tal figlio vive col tal genitore e non con l’altro…

Anche questa e le immagini che seguono sono opera di Ken Botto.

Jack insegna all’università, è capo del dipartimento di studi hitleriani, disciplina da lui fondata, ma non parla una parola di tedesco.
Il college mi verrebbe da collocarlo nel New England, o forse più a sud. Ma invece apprendo (non però da DeLillo che nel romanzo non specifica mai) trovarsi nel Midwest.
Jack è l’io narrante, la prima persona che chiacchiera e racconta, e ritengo possa rientrare nella categoria cosiddetta di narratori inaffidabili. D’altronde, è talmente ossessionato dalla morte – al punto da svegliarsi di notte in preda a sudori e affanno - preoccupato di allungare la vita come e comunque, che per me risulta in ogni caso inaffidabile. Inattendibile.
Anche perché la sua voce, il suo io è portato alla satira – e queste circa quattrocento pagine sono una magnifica gloriosa insuperabile satira sulla società americana, e occidentale (capitalista?) – all’humour, a suscitare il sorriso: ma è una voce che conosce l’emozione, sa regolarla evitando picchi di pathos, ma sa comunque suscitarla e stimolarla.

Mi chiedo se l’amore tra Jack e Babette - la sua quarta moglie ma quinto matrimonio – amore con buona attrazione fisica e frequente incontro sessuale – sia basato sulla reciproca paura della morte. Perché, dopo aver appreso imparato e capito, ma non giustificato, la paura della morte che accompagna lui, ci si imbatte in quella di lei, ben più dirompente irrefrenabile incontrollabile. Paura della morte “in prima istanza”.
E lei è perfino più giovane e in salute di Jack .
Il che la dice lunga su questo incubo a occhi chiusi e aperti che accompagna i giorni e gli anni di alcuni esseri umani (tutti? È parte della condizione umana? Dissento).

Jack nel campus si traveste con tonaca da preside e occhiali scuri, come se volesse nascondersi dalla morte che lo ossessiona. Ha scelto una vita tranquilla in una città di provincia col suo college locale che favorisce la routine, al riparo dagli eventi della vita, al riparo del corpo ampio e accogliente di Babette, al riparo del nucleo familiare, con la speranza forse che la vita lo ignori, non si accorga di lui. La vita che, si sa, termina con la morte: la sua scelta di vita ritirata, di, per così dire, una vita senza vita, è conseguenza della sua ossessiva paura della morte.

Satira della società americana e di quel life style, dicevo: le televisioni sembrano ovunque sempre accese, DeLillo inserisce brani di voci che escono dall’apparecchio con effetto straniante. Aggiunge anche quelle della radio. Sono parte del rumore bianco. Che diventa imperante nelle molte scene al supermercato, luogo che finisce con l’identificarsi come simbolo di quell’America. Prodotti e marche nominate, presenti, una dittatura impietosa delle merci, del consumismo.
Non mancano avvistamenti bizzarri, UFO, la gente sembra propensa al delirio: cos’altro è, in fondo, quell’andare a vedere il tramonto dal cavalcavia sull’autostrada? Luogo dove si raduna molta gente, anche in sedia a rotelle, grandi e piccini, ad ammirare i colori del sole calante, che “l’evento tossico aereo” - quello che ha riempito la cittadina di gente in tute e caschi dall’aspetto minaccioso sparsi a rilevare perdite e contaminazione, quello che ha portato all’evacuazione di massa prima di riappropriarsi della vita di prima – ha reso acuti e intensificati. Bella rilettura

Bella rilettura, a distanza di oltre vent’anni - la prima volta in originale, ora in buona traduzione -seconda lettura che mi ha restituito il sapore di un romanzo diventato ormai un ‘classico’.

Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,049 followers
November 5, 2015
“The world is full of abandoned meanings.”
White Noise takes place in a realm one small step removed from an easily recognisable reality – or “just outside the range of human apprehension”, as DeLillo puts it. On face value none of its characters or events are quite credible – the characters are too eloquent, the scenes too stage managed. Why, for example, would people choose to go out in the open on foot to escape from a toxic cloud? Why not get in their cars or simply stay barricaded in their homes? So DeLillo can give us an image of a nomad biblical exodus because Delillo wants to strip down humanity to its rudiments in this novel – the fear of death and subsequent gullibility it induces to submit to all kinds of generalised information that will keep us safe. He wants to show us how information is used to cower us into a herd mentality. The Hitler warning always stalking the outer corridors of the novel. “Put on a uniform and feel bigger, stronger, safer''.

White Noise, on the surface, is DeLillo’s most orthodox novel. First person narrative. Straightforward chronology. Mainly domestic setting. Lots of humour. The novel’s white noise is the endless stream of (mis)information we are subjected to in our lives. Data has a viral role in this novel. Data that rarely translates into wisdom. The narrator Jack Gladney’s oldest son articulates this theme brilliantly: “What can we do to make life easier for the Stone Agers? Can we make a refrigerator? Can we even explain how it works? What is electricity? What is light? We experience these things every day of our lives but what good does it do if we find ourselves hurled back in time and we can’t even tell people the basic principles much less actually make something that would improve conditions. Name one thing you could make. Could you make a simple wooden match that you could strike on a rock to make a flame? We think we’re so great and modern. Moon landings, artificial hearts. But what if you were hurled into a time warp. If a Stone Ager asked you what a nucleotide is, could you tell him? How do we make carbon paper? What is glass? If you came awake tomorrow in the Middle Ages and there was an epidemic raging, what could you do to stop it, knowing what you know about the progress of medicines and diseases? Here it is practically the twenty-first century and you’ve read hundreds of books and magazines and seen a hundred TV shows about science and medicine. Could you tell those people one little crucial thing that might save a million and a half lives?”

Children, still unencumbered by fear of death, are better (and more mysterious) filters of information in the novel than the fear-stricken adults. The adults are both blinded and deafened by the wall of white noise of ubiquitous multimedia information because “the deeper we delve into the nature of things, the looser our structure may seem to become.” The children therefore often have to resist what passes as wisdom in the parents. “The family is the cradle of the world's misinformation.”

As he becomes much more intimate with the advent of his own death Gladney begins finally to glean wisdom from information. “The air was rich with extrasensory material. Nearer to death, nearer to second sight. I continued to advance in consciousness. Things glowed, a secret life rising out of them.”
White Noise, not quite the masterpiece that is Underworld, is a brilliant achievement, his second best novel.
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews951 followers
May 7, 2013

If I had it my way, as soon as you clicked on my review this song would blare from your speakers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N3N1M... (and the video is amazing; I would rather you watch it than read my nonsensical ramblings)


This book smells like napalm. It sounds like air being slowly released from a balloon. It tastes like ashes of the American dream.

I wander the city, invisible earmuffs blocking out the sounds, eyes glued to pages, smile glued to my face. People look at me as if they want to know my secrets. I promise not to tell. Closer. Let me whisper in your ear. I’ll only give you glimpses...

Heinrich Gerhardt Gladney is a cynic. I want to get inside his head. We’re all suffering from brain fade.

The airborne toxic event. Cool name for a band? These guys thought so. Not if you look like that it's not.


Fear of death. Fear of life. Consumerism. Commercialism. Communism. Toyota Celica. Murray is a comic genius. No frills. The pills won’t save you. Orest Mercator. Going for the record. Snakes bite.

Elvis versus Hitler. How about a hybrid? Might look like this:


Where were you when James Dean died? Dylar. The most photographed barn in America. Babette has very important hair. Car crash seminars. Déjà vu. Ask the big important questions. Pointless conversations.

Strip malls. Cable tv.

Sex and death. Death. Life. Death.

"et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

In the midst of life we are in death et cetera.


Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,200 followers
December 31, 2022
March, 2018:
On a second read, I think I got another 2-3% of it than last time. I adore this book.

January, 2016:
I really enjoyed this, but I don't completely understand it yet. I've got about 95% of it, but that last 5% I think may only come after some rereading, and maybe 20 additional years of life experience. It feels like a book you could read several times over a life and always find a different meaning. Heavily metaphorical, very philosophical, clever. Death, consumerism, fear, modern life, existentialism, nihilism, etc.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,195 reviews9,473 followers
November 24, 2012
I saw to my consternation that I'd given two stars to this smirkfest yet stuck it on my Finally Threw it At the Wall shelf. This is a contradiction. So : One Star For You, Mr DeLillo. Fuck off.
Profile Image for Megha.
79 reviews1,074 followers
April 7, 2010
I am having a very difficult time trying to decide if White Noise is actually an intelligent work which I completely failed to understand. Or is it just one of those novels which try to sound all smart and deep and profound, but do not actually make much sense.

The characters are all strange, the dialogue and prose is weird. It is perhaps not rare for authors to create characters that are unsentimental, and totally incapable of having a normal conversation. But I find it difficult to appreciate such a use of artistic license if it doesn't make any point at all and serves no purpose.
On top of being obscure, the prose lacks fluidity. There are abrupt scene changes and needless interruptions of scenes. In several places, DeLillo interrupts a dialogue to throw in a bunch of brand names, unrelated to the scene, and then carries on with the dialogue again.
I think one of the things that I was very disappointed with was that DeLillo did not convincingly explain the transformation of an ordinary man (well, ordinary in DeLillio's universe) into a murderer, which is specially disappointing for a novel which revolves(or pretends to) quite a bit around human psychology.

I gave it three stars because for first 100 pages or so, Don DeLillo did succeed in making me think that he was building up to something really good. However, by the time I finished the book, I was so numbed by the absurd dialogue that I had already forgotten what it was that I had liked initially.

Few examples of meaninglessness:

"He looks like a man who finds dead bodies erotic." (This one takes the cake.)

"The point of rooms is that they are inside. No one should go into a room unless he understands this. People behave one way in rooms, another way in streets, parks and airports. To enter a room is to agree on a certain kind of behavior that takes place in rooms. This is the standard, as opposed to parking lots and beaches. It is the point of the rooms. No one should enter a room not knowing the point......" (What will I ever do without these words of wisdom!)
Profile Image for Matt.
918 reviews28.3k followers
April 26, 2016
I put this book on my 2009 Literary Resolutions List, which comprises 15 books culled from Time's List of the 100 Greatest Novels since 1920. I thought it was a novelization of that movie where Michael Keaton hears dead people. I was wrong.

I really didn't like this book. It annoyed, irritated, and grated on me.

The book follows Jack Gladney, who is a professor of Hitler Studies (a throwaway joke that is stretched throughout the entire book) at an eastern college. He's on his fourth marriage to Babette, and they have a mixed family with children from various marriages. The children are all precocious and utterly preposterous, and speak in television-gleaned soundbites. They come across as robots; think Haley Joel Osment in A.I.. This might have been purporseful; I don't care.

There is an "airborne toxic event" caused by a train accident that forces the Gladneys to evacuate their home for a short period. According to the book flap, this was supposed to be a central event in the novel, but this novel has no center. It just sort of meanders on, a supposdedly razor-sharp satire of our consumer-driven culture.

I initially enjoyed the book, and indeed, the opening chapter describing the line of station wagons pulling up to college at the end of summer is timeless. Written in the 80s, it is still perceptive today. However, the book gets more tiresome as it goes on. There are countless trips to the grocery store, where DeLillo's characters, including the insufferable Murray, can wonder zombie-like down the endless aisles, exchanging self-important banalities with each other. I guess the grocery store is some sort of symbol for our rampant consumerism?

The dialogue is too cute, and at times, wretched. For instance, Murray - who I wish death upon - says crap like: "Your wife has important hair." Blech.

There are some clever bits. For instance, the Gladney family engages in a conversation in which each member of the family parrots some information they've heard, but all the facts they reguritate are wrong in some fashion. It's a situation that neatly prefigures Wikipedia and the internet age, where everyone is an expert, and everyone is full of s**t. The second or third time DeLillo comes back to this same set-up, though, it wears thin.

I really hated, hated, how Jack and Babette persisted in addressing each other in the third person.

Jack: "This is not the purpose of Babette."
Babette: "This is not the purpose of Jack."
ME: Drinks the bottle with the skull and crossbones label.

It should be noted that I am predisposed to dislike satire. When it's done well, it can be funny and insightful; however, due to the nature of satire, it can never really be transformational. The characters aren't really people so much as mouthpieces for the author. The didacticism turns Jack and Babette and Murray (damn him to hell)into theme-spouting robots. I didn't care for them at all. Well, that's not true; I sort of wanted them all to die, so the book would end, and I could read something else.

My hesitation with reviewing this book comes from the inevitable fear that I've missed the entire point. This book is well-regarded and has been well-reviewed. Maybe I'm what's wrong, and not White Noise. Considering it was written by the Great DeLillo, this is quite possible. I think I do get it, though. It's a postmodern critique of our culture, with freshman philosophy masquerading as deep insight.

While acknowledging the imperfections of our "hypermediated" culture, I think it's a little elitist and obnoxious to totally decry it. DeLillo's many ciphers - er, characters - speak in a sort of code which they have taken from television, radio, the tabloids, etc. He points out the negatives of our overly wired, tapped-in lives. To which I say, in the language of our times, whatever. To be sure, there is a certain worrying narcissism in our culture, in which people want everything "on demand" and tailored to their personal tastes (to the point, at times, where no one else matters). It also seems impossible for a person to walk 25 feet without simultaneously listening to their iPod, talking on a Blue Tooth, and Googling on a Blackberry. Still, there are great benefits. I like living in a wired, tapped-in culture. I like that I can go on the internet and read The Histories of Herodotus, or watch The History Channel and see how they built the Eisenhower Interstate System. We live in a world where the most ordinary person has an entire universe of knowledge right at their fingertips, waiting to be explored. Certainly, there is a lot of "white noise" that comes with this often-unfiltered universe, but better that it's there, to be sifted through, than completely unavailable.
November 18, 2017
Ο «Λευκός θόρυβος» είναι ένας θρήνος για την συντριπτική προοπτική του θανάτου, την καταρρέουσα σύγχρονη κοινωνία και τον παραλογισμό του σύμπαντος του συγγραφέα.

Ξεκίνησα θετικά, με ζωηρό ενδιαφέρον για την εξέλιξη και συναισθηματικά μουδιασμένη, παρόλο που η φλυαρία, η επανάληψη και η τάση για διδαχή με κατέβαλαν αρνητικά.
Στην πορεία αντιλήφθηκα πως το επαναλαμβανόμενο θέμα που θα έπρεπε να με αγγίξει και να με προβληματίσει, ίσως και να με εντυπωσιάσει, ήταν πως ο κάθε άνθρωπος ζει τη ζωή του με τον τρόμο του θανάτου και ολα τα υπόλοιπα είναι απλώς ..«Λευκός θόρυβος».

Υπάρχει μια αποστασιοποίηση συναισθηματική, μια εμπνευσμένη τεχνική που δημιουργεί τεχνητά γεγονότα και καταστάσεις. Το στήσιμο της ιστορίας αλλού είναι αξιοθαύμαστο και αλλού γεμάτο σχόλια και παραλογισμούς, περιττολογίες και υπερβολές για την εμπορική παγίδα του κέρδους, τις αντιφάσεις της ζωής και τα βαθύτερα νοήματα,πάντα ασαφή και διφορούμενα.

Ο ήρωας μας είναι καθηγητής πανεπιστημίου ειδικευμένος στις «χιτλερικές σπουδές». Ο ίδιος επινόησε αυτό το τμήμα σπουδών που είχε μεγάλη επιτυχία ως πεδίο ακαδημαϊκής έρευνας.

Μάλλον εδώ ξεκινά η αρρώστεια του πρωταγωνιστή μας. Ο«Αγώνας»του Χίτλερ μπαίνει με επιδεξιότητα στα προγράμματα κοινωνικής επιστήμης, γίνεται αποδεκτός και καταλήγει να εξομοιωθεί με τον καθηγητή σε ένα αδιανόητο επίπεδο συναισθηματικού παγώματος, αδράνειας και στωικά ψυχρής αντιμετώπισης για τα πάντα, εκτός απο τον εγωκεντρικό φόβο του θανάτου.

/ Ότι υπάρχει και κατάλληλη αμφίεση για να προσδίδει κύρος και εξουσία σε έναν δάσκαλο χιτλερικών συμβολισμών με αποτελείωσε\

Η σύζυγος του - επίσης πάσχει απο θανατοφοβία - είναι η τέταρτη ή η πέμπτη στη σειρά των νόμιμων συντρόφων του και τα παιδιά τους είναι όλα καρποί απο προηγούμενους έρωτες.
Όλα τα μέλη της οικογένειας είναι αντίγραφα και μεταμφιέσεις του πατέρα με πιστότητα και αμεσότητα άψογη.
Τα παιδιά είναι ώριμα, σοφά και σαφέστατες ολοκληρωμένες προσωπικότητες που δεν χάνουν ευκαιρία να αμφισβητούν τους γονείς τους, οι οποίοι το δέχονται με σεβασμό και απόλυτη επιείκεια.
Άλλωστε το μόνο που απασχολεί το ζευγάρι στην Αμερική της υποκρισίας του 20ου αιώνα είναι ο φόβος του θανάτου τους. Τα υπόλοιπα ειναι ασήμαντα και επιφανειακά.

Εκνευριστικοί και οι μακροσκελείς διάλογοι του ζευγαριού για το ποιος θα πεθάνει πρώτος και πως θα βελτιωθεί η κατάσταση.

Απαράδεκτο να ακούς και να προσπαθείς να κατανοήσεις σκεπτικό γονέων που τρέμουν το θάνατο τους. Η ταπεινή μου άποψη ως άνθρωπος κι ως μητέρα είναι πως απόγνωση, τρόμο, πανικό, λαχτάρα και αγωνία αισθάνονται οι γονείς πρωταρχικά και ξεκάθαρα για τα παιδιά τους, όχι για τους εαυτούς τους.

•Απο κει και πέρα υπάρχουν πολλές σκηνές όπου τα ανθρώπινα ένστικτα παρουσιάζονται κυρίαρχα με έντονο λυρισμό και βαθιά συγκίνηση. Επίσης, αξιοσημείωτη η προσπάθεια του συγγραφέα για την τοξικότητα σε όλα τα επίπεδα της ζωής. Συγκυριακά και ουσιαστικά. Εντυπωσιακές και ανεξίτηλες περιγραφές πολλών καταστάσεων θλιβερής ή σατιρικής πνευματικής και διαπροσωπικής-κοινωνικής απόγνωσης.

•Βαρετά μηνύματα που έπαψαν απο πολύ παλιά να απασχολούν τον σύγχρονο άνθρωπο.
Ψευδό-βαθιές ιδέες για το τί εννοείται ή υπονοείται, συνομωτικά σενάρια καταστροφής, κομμάτια άσχετης αντισταθμιστικής κουλτούρας που διαταράσσονται συνεχώς απο διαφημίσεις, τηλεόραση και εφημερίδες.

Ένας καταναλωτικός παράδεισος τα φωτεινά σούπερ μάρκετ που υποδηλώνουν σιγουριά, χαρά και άνεση μακριά απο την πραγματικότητα.
Το σούπερ χάπι των βιοψυχολόγων κατά της θνητής υπόστασης. Πολιτικές, φιλοσοφικές δηλώσεις εγχώριας κατανάλωσης που αγωνίζονται να δημιουργήσουν γενναιόδωρες καταστάσεις για το απρόβλεπτο και το αναπόδραστο.

Υπονόμευση προσδοκιών του αναγνώστη με έξυπνο τρόπο ώστε να μην μαντεύει τι θα διαδραματιστεί και ξαφνικές συστροφές προς κατευθύνσεις αντιπαραγωγικές για την ιστορία στο σύνολο της.

Ενα τμήμα καθηγητών ποπ κουλτούρας, ψώνια ως θρησκευτική εμπειρία και ενώ ο θάνατος καιροφυλακτεί πάνω απο τα κεφάλια των ηρώων πέφτουν τα εμπορικά σήματα ανάμεσα στις παραγράφους. Σίγουρα περνάει μηνύματα εδώ, μα τίποτα που να μην έχουμε ακούσει πριν.

Εν κατακλείδι, γνωρίζουμε ότι είμαστε καταναλωτές θύματα. Κατανοούμε πως δεν υπάρχει γνήσια πνευματικότητα, αλλά στην τελική γιατί αυτό να είναι μέγιστο θέμα;
Οι κοινωνίες είχαν και θα έχουν σοβαρότερα προβλήματα στο πέρασμα της Ιστορίας του κόσμου. Είναι αφελές και υπερβολικά δραματικό να παρακινούμαστε για δράση σαν να έχουμε χάσει την ανθρωπιά μας λόγω της σύγχρονης οικονομίας και του πολιτισμού.
Ίσως να αποτελεί πολύ καλό αναγνωστικό υλικό για δευτεροετείς φοιτητές φιλοσοφίας που καλούνται να ξεπεράσουν τους εαυτούς τους και να αναπτύξουν ιδέες γύρω απο την παθολογία της καταστρεπτικής σύγχρονης κοινωνίας.

Καλή ανάγνωση.

Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,824 followers
January 24, 2010
A few years back, shortly after Katrina had her way with New Orleans, Time magazine did a cover story about how Americans prepare and cope with disasters. And we don’t do well with them. The story pointed out that while Americans love to obsess about all the potentially horrible things that can happen, we refuse to take actions to prevent or minimize their impact because we don’t want to admit that they’re really possible.

That’s why Americans will freak out if you try to spend a few hundred million dollars of tax money on something like shoring up the levees in New Orleans or making stricter building codes for hurricanes in Florida despite the fact that doing so would have saved many lives and countless billions in rebuilding costs before Hurricanes Katrina or Andrew. (My favorite recent example of this is when the Republicans tried to turn a few million dollars for a volcano eruption early warning program into an example of Obama’s wasteful spending, yet when an actual volcano eruption occurred in Sarah Palin country shortly after that and early warning was credited with saving lives, you never heard about it again. Oh, you wacky right wingers!)

On a more personal level, your average American will obsess endlessly about their weight, their cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, swine flu, bird flu, etc., but most will do so as they still don’t exercise, eat poorly, avoid regular physicals that might provide early detection of a life-threatening illness or get vaccinated. Or people will refuse to evacuate an area where potentially devastating storms are headed.

I kept thinking about that Time story while reading White Noise. The book itself lives up to it’s billing as a post-modern masterpiece with a black, absurd sense of humor, and it’s got layer after layer of themes. But it was DeLillo’s masterful presentation of how people worry themselves to death about death while still trying to deny that it's ever going to happen that I found really engaging.

The story revolves around Jack Gladney, a professor at a small college who created a department and academic field of studying Hitler. Jack and his wife Babette have a typical nuclear family circa 1985, with several divorces and a large group of children from their previous marriages, and their kids seem a lot more adult than the parents in a lot of ways. Jack spends most of his time getting into surreal discussions with his children and colleagues about a number of trivial subjects, but their suburban tranquility is eventually disturbed when a train accident leads to an ‘airborne toxic event’, and the entire community is forced to flee.

After the event, Jack learns that he may have been exposed to potentially fatal doses of the toxins, but it’s uncertain when the effects may start. This leads to both Jack and Babette admitting to each other that they’ve both got an intense fear of death. In Babette’s case, she’s taken extreme measures and been keeping some pretty serious secrets to deal with her phobia.

Even though both Jack and Barbette believe they’ve got a larger than normal dread of death, the lengths they go to in admitting potentially lethal problems are hilarious in a demented way. After the train accident, the kids are watching the toxic cloud grow larger from their view of the train yard and try to alert Jack that there may be trouble. Jack refuses to admit that it’s even possible that middle-class people such as themselves will be victims of an industrial accident. Only the poor people who live around train yards and factories have to worry about such things Jack assures the children even as the cloud grows larger.

So they sit down to dinner instead of packing up the car and getting to a safe distance. When emergency vehicles go down the street and use loudspeakers to tell everyone to evacuate, and the kids again urge that they should leave, Jack and Babette want to debate whether the guy on the loudspeaker said that they should leave NOW or whether they still have time. Surely, he would have told them to run immediately if there was any real danger, wouldn’t he?

Later, when Jack is talking to a doctor about his blood test results, he insists on lying about his health habits, claiming that he eats well, exercises, doesn’t drink, etc. as the doctor is trying to explain what they’ve found. Even though the results of a chemical test are sitting in an envelope in front of him, Jack’s irrationality makes him lie to the doctor as if pretending to live a healthy lifestyle will change the outcome. It’s a terrific scene of both bargaining and denial.

There’s also great satire about academic careers, suburban American consumer culture, family life, media and a couple of hundred other things. It’s a treasure trove of dark deadpan humor with brilliant writing.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
860 reviews2,187 followers
March 2, 2012
100 Words in Search of a Precis (For Those of Us Who Prefer the Short Form of Stimulation)

At its heart, “White Noise” is a comic dramatization of the fear of death.

In modern consumer society, we are only fulfilled if our shopping bags are filled full.

We do it in crowds. It must be right, if we’re all doing it. It’s part of the natural order. It’s “ordernary”.

It’s a collective delusion, “a convenient fantasy, the worst kind of self-delusion,” designed to distract us from our incapacitation in the face of death.

Instead, DeLillo urges us to regard life with wonder and awe, and just get on with it, appreciating each day as it comes, sunrise followed by sunset.

My Review

My more formal review as at 23 January, 2012 is here:


In the Ring with Deadly Don DeLillo

Compere: Yes folks, welcome to Gym Combat, Nottingham’s premier gym and home to Saturday Night Fight Night. Tonight …what…what…

Spontaneous applause breaks out as former undefeated Commonwealth & IBO Welterweight World Champion, Jav Khalik, enters the ring.

Compere: Jav, why don’t you tell us…who’ve we got on tonight?

Jav: Tony, a very special friend of mine, local boy, Paul “Southpaw” Bryant…

Compere: Fresh from last month’s second round TKO of Brett “Western and Easton” Ellis…

Jav: Wasn’t that a fight, Tony?

Compere: I’ll say, Jav… Southpaw totally smashed that American Psycho.

Jav: Annihilated him.

Compere: Got what he deserved, ended up how he started, a bloody nihilist pornographer.

Jav laughs, but stops when Southpaw Bryant slides gracefully through the ropes into his corner. A woman in a Batgirl costume runs up to the ring and thrusts an autograph book at him.

Batgirl: Southpaw, write something for me.

Southpaw’s manager unscrews the top of an inkwell and hands him a quill. Southpaw dips his quill and writes down, Southpaw 909.

Batgirl: What’s this?

Southpaw: My room number.

Many women in the crowd wriggle, whoop and whistle excitedly.
Batgirl swoons and drops the autograph book as Southpaw’s manager catches her in his arms.
In the mayhem, the autograph book is passed hurriedly back from hand to hand towards the back of the crowd, until the last man to hold it feels a gloved hand wrench it from his clasp.
He looks up and sees a slight, scowling grey-haired man in a metallic cape.
He has just entered the gym from his limousine outside, followed by his manager and a sliver of twilight sun.
The audience can see him too, on the screen.
The compere senses the arrival of Southpaw’s opponent and looks nervously at Jav. He lifts the microphone to his lips…

Compere: Ladies and gentlemen, you might not know this man, but he is a true heavyweight, some say the heavyweight champion of the Word…

Jav: He’s no fall guy…

Compere: No mere falling man…

Jav: He doesn’t pull any punches…

Compere: He doesn’t push any rivers…

The audience looks around quizzically.

Jav: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Southpaw’s nemesis, Deadly Don De Lillo.

The audience looks around quizzically again, still.

Southpaw (sensing their dilemma): “White Noise”.

Suddenly, there is a wave of recognition in the crowd.

The audience (as one): Wanker!

Batgirl (who has lifted herself up on one elbow): Post-modernist!

The audience (as one): Post-modernist wanker!

Deadly Don lifts one leg over the top rope and then another and then another, and suddenly the bell has rung and the fight has started.

Round One:

Southpaw (bouncing around, poking his chin out): Give me your best, De Lillo, come on.

Deadly Don: Another postmodern sunset, rich in romantic imagery.

Southpaw: Describe it, paint me a picture!

Deadly Don: Why try to describe it?

Deadly Don feints at Southpaw with his scribbly left hand.

Deadly Don: It’s enough to say that everything in our field of vision seemed to exist in order to gather the light of this event.

Southpaw: In the dark, who can see his face?

Deadly Don (moving closer): What did you say?

Southpaw: In the dark, who can reach him?

Deadly Don: I can tell by the lines you’re reciting…

Southpaw: In the darkness, the shadows move.

Deadly Don: It’s not a movie…

Southpaw: In the darkness, the game is real.

Southpaw spots a patch of jaw between Deadly Don’s gloves and lands a left hook on it.
Deadly Don falls pugilistically and slides back across the canvas.

Southpaw: Shoot out the lights.

Round One is awarded to Southpaw.

Round Two:

Southpaw: Ready for another blow against the empire, another shock to the system?

Deadly Don: Ha! The system is invisible, which makes it all the more impressive, all the more disquieting to deal with.

Southpaw: Nice prose…

He hits the side of Deadly Don’s face with a solid left hook. Deadly Don stumbles, but regains his footing.

Deadly Don: But we were in accord, at least for now.

Southpaw (determined to finish his assessment): …shame about the plot.

Deadly Don: All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots.

Southpaw: In that case, think of me as an incendiary plot device.

Southpaw swings carelessly, misses and receives a short, sharp jab to the right temple for his effort. Tears fill his eyes and a ringing fills an adjacent stinging ear, until his good ear senses the jingle jangle of a distant bell.

Deadly Don (speaking over his shoulder on the way to his corner): Can you hear them now? The networks, the circuits, the streams, the harmonies.

Round Two is awarded narrowly to Deadly Don.

Round Three:

Southpaw (cocky at the start of the last round): Prepare to die, De Lillo.

Southpaw takes a careless swing and misses.

Deadly Don (making a guffaw sound): Guffaw.

Southpaw (still staggering): You’re history, De Lillo, bloody history.

Deadly Don adjusts his gloves, makes to take them off, then thinks better of it.

Deadly Don: Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death.

Deadly Don jabs at Southpaw’s good ear. Southpaw loses his sense of balance and falls sideways. He whispers something on his back that De Lillo can’t hear.

Deadly Don (leaning over the suffering Southpaw): What did you say?

Southpaw: What if death is nothing but sound?

Deadly Don (appreciative of the line of questioning): Electrical noise.

Southpaw: You hear it forever. Sound all around. How awful.

Deadly Don (reaching closer to the expiring man’s face, looking into his dullard eyes): Uniform, white.

Southpaw closes his eyes, Deadly Don twists his head in an attempt to detect Southpaw’s last breath, only the Englishman conjures up one last gasp of strength and head butts Deadly Don’s left eye socket, which still attached to the rest of his head, collapses on Southpaw’s chest.
The referee kneels beside them, counting, before long deciding that the fight belongs to Southpaw.

While all are still low on the canvas, Jav joins them.
He too kneels, and places his microphone on the canvas, where it starts to generate feedback.
For a moment, it blends with the sound of the bell in Southpaw’s ear.
Only as the bell dies, the feedback intensifies.

Southpaw (turns around groggily and demands): Turn off that fuckin' white noise, will ya?
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,378 reviews2,253 followers
May 22, 2022
Brilliant! A top-notch social satire about the fear of death and how it effects ones life - a life being consumed by the modern world, becoming paranoid about everything we hear and are told through radio/TV. And the airborne toxic event that's thrown into the mix only adds to the darkly comical and paranoid behaviour of the Gladney family involved. And this is where the heart of the story lies - a family going through a crisis, that leads to some pretty over-the-top behaviour, as during their college town exodus Jack is momentarily exposed to the noxious air - an exposure which would alter his life expectancy. The chemical cloud may disperse, but the stranglehold fear of death -the white noise - goes marching on and paralyzes Jack and wife Babette both. The dialogue here is damn right superb! - the best I've come across in a DeLillo novel probably. The family moments - like the squabbling between parents and siblings it is at times just hilarious, and had me thinking of an abundance of American sitcoms. In a way, once entering the second half of the book, it's like DeLillo is throwing TV - channel-surfing - right at you through a book. From the news, to sci-fi, to the movie channel, to a sitcom. On a more serious level, despite it being for the most part a humorous read, DeLillo always sticks close to basic human instincts - like the evocation of loneliness before death shown by Jack & Babette which really was quite touching. One of DeLillo's more straightforward reads, it was the first DeLillo I read. Almost on a par with Libra and Underworld which are still my fave two novels.
Profile Image for B0nnie.
136 reviews49 followers
April 9, 2012
“What if death is nothing but sound....electrical noise….you hear it forever…sound all around…uniform, white.”
white noise
Think about that. Death: white noise. A metaphor for the substance of nothingness.

However you wish to describe it, death casts a large black shadow on us. It covers human beings but not animals - because animals are not afraid of death. Get rid of that shadow, problem solved…

What if there were a pill that that fixes the fear-of-death part of the brain and cures you of this "condition"? Would you take it?

If you need help in deciding, read White Noise. It is about death, the fear of dying, the meaningless white noise in our lives. And Hitler.
“There’s something about German names, the German language, German things. I don’t know what it is exactly. It’s just there. In the middle of it all is Hitler, of course.”
“He was on again last night.”
“He’s always on. We couldn’t have television without him.”

And it is very, very funny.

The giddiness just builds and builds, interrupted now and then by the sound of your own laughter. Each time, startled, you look up from the book and remember you are alone. That you were reading. And the black shadow that follows you around all the time is still there.

Here's a hint about that pill: “Fear is self-awareness raised to a higher level.” Every solution has consequences.

The main character Jack Gladney would be at home in a Saul Bellow novel. In fact Saul Bellow seemed ever present - his wit and 20th century angst, his way of tossing in philosophic discourse and intellectual musings, his deeply flawed characters that you love anyway. The very raw inner musings give them a sense of vulnerability that you identify with.
“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise.”

White Noise, written in 1984 (published in 1985), brings Orwell to mind. But the real Orwellian streak is that Delillo was so in tune with where contemporary society was going, he all but predicts events of the 21st century - with his references to plane crashes, manmade disasters, our artificial high-tech, miracle drug society.

Even if none of the above interests you, just read this novel because DeLillo can build a haunting image of something very simple:

"the sparse traffic washes past, a remote and steady murmur around our sleep, as of dead souls babbling at the edge of a dream."
Profile Image for مجیدی‌ام.
213 reviews109 followers
March 30, 2021
یکبار دیگه نشر چشمه، یکبار دیگه پیمان خاکسار و یکبار دیگه یک کتاب فوق‌العاده.

برفک، کتابی نسبتا بلند و طولانیه، که در نگاه اول ممکنه پیش خودمون بگیم سخت به پایان خواهد رسید، ولی کتاب از همون صفحات اولش مخاطب رو جذب می‌کنه.

کتاب، شامل سه بخش هست، که محور زمانی (تایم‌لاین) دقیقی از این سه بخش نداریم، ولی من اگر بخوام به سلیقه‌ی خودم دسته‌بندی کنم، (طوری که داستان رو لو نداده باشم) اینطور میگم:
بخش اول: پیش از اتفاق افتادن
بخش دوم: حین اتفاق افتادن
بخش سوم: پس از اتفاق افتادن
حالا اینکه این اتفاق چی هست رو، خودتون با خوندن کتاب کشف می‌کنید، من عادت به لو دادن داستان کتاب‌ها ندارم! :)

بخش اول کتاب، روشن، رنگارنگ، کمی شاد و یجورایی روزمره‌اس... مخاطب با خوندنش حس خوبی پیدا می‌کنه.
بخش دوم، خواننده اس��رس رو تجربه می‌کنه، اتفاقاتی میافته که خواننده رو دچار تشویش می‌کنه.
و بخش سوم، خاکستری‌ترین بخش کتابه! بخشی که افسرده‌اس، ناراحته، گنگه، اگزيسانسياليستیه!
در بخش سوم، کتاب، پست مدرن بودنش رو به اوج میرسونه و مخاطب قشنگ اون تیرگی رو حس می‌کنه.

در هر سه بخش کتاب، جملات، پاراگراف‌ها و حتی صفحات ارزشمندی از بحث‌های فلسفی بین شخصیت‌های داستان هست، که میشه ازشون درس‌هایی گرفت.
بحث‌هایی در مورد ترس از مرگ، در مورد تنهایی بعد از ازدست‌دادن شریک زندگی.
جالب اینکه تمام این حرف‌ها، در سوپرمارکت‌ها بین شخصیت‌ها رد و بدل میشن! در راهروهای دانشگاه! یا پشت میز نهارخوری داخل خونه!

هرچند خود داستان کمی تیکه تیکه هست و انسجام نداره، اما خوب، رمان پست مدرن همینه دیگه!
خبری از توصیفات زیبا درمورد خیابون‌های بارون خورده نیست.
خبری از توصیف‌های ظاهری قهرمانان داستان نیست.
خبری از چندین و چند صفحه نوشتن در مورد درختان زیزفون و سرو و چمن‌های شبنم گرفته نیست.
حتی به قول دوستانی که برای این کتاب نقد نوشتن، خبری هم از شخصیت پردازی‌های پیگیرانه نیست!
شخصیت‌های داستان رو کم کم و در حد نیاز می‌شناسیم، اون هم در سیر تکاملی داستان!

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آخرسر يک سوال باقی می‌مونه، آدم تمام عمرش با بقيه خداحافظی می‌كنه، ولی با خودش چه‌طوری بايد خداحافظی كنه؟
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,563 followers
April 27, 2020
Two waves of strangeness collide in this ultra-wacky, Edward Albeeesque yarn of radiation via ultraconsumerism. There's the Gladney clan: a bunch of misfits straight out of Wes Anderson. Then there is the undertow of dread carried like a fog through wires and the air itself... something that interests the likes of filmmaker Cronenberg.

There is an obvious wit in the minutiae over-explained by the Gladneys. These Americans are as eccentric as they get, which is why the plot doesn't get old. The father is a professor of the very popular Hitler studies at a college in a college town. The children are all idiot savants. The mother is a weirdo. This imparts plenty of literary liberty to DeLillo.

I think that while this work is original, plenty of other stories (about alien invasions, paranoia born of technology, etc.) resemble it. I love the play/movie BUG because, similarly, it too relies on the claustrophobia inherent in the interactions with humanity and the delusions that one brain equals the world entire. Unlike "Bug," the characters here are too strange to be endearing. No, this is not required reading. (However) Yes, the atmosphere is well conceived and almost everything said and done can be open to reader's interpretation. It's precisely one of those books...
Profile Image for sAmAnE.
498 reviews84 followers
March 7, 2022
خوندن این کتاب برام تجربه‌ی جالبی بود. برخلاف نظر خود نویسنده کتاب پست مدرن بود. ترجمه هم خوب بود و خوندنش خیلی خوب پیش میره. اصلا خسته کننده نبود. موضوع رمان پیرامون مرگ، پوچ گرایی، رسانه و مصرف‌گراییه.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,053 reviews529 followers
January 15, 2023
“The vast and terrible depth.”
“Of course,” he said.
“The inexhaustibility.”
“I understand.”
“The whole huge nameless thing.”
“Yes, absolutely.”
“The massive darkness.”
“Certainly, certainly.”
“The whole terrible endless hugeness.”
“I know exactly what you mean.”

Despite my ‘review to come’ only appending the above quote from the novel, I see it has already garnered an alarming number of likes (40 now as I get around to marshalling my thoughts). I hope this means Goodreaders are big fans of Don DeLillo and appreciate it whenever someone picks up one of his titles.

My intention was only to review the book after seeing the Noah Baumbach adaptation on Netflix, which intrigued me with its quirky trailer that seemed to combine heavy-lifting dialogue with a kind of big budget sensibility and some silly slapstick. Then I decided to read the book first, which was published in 1985 (I could be mistaken, but my edition says 1984), and is largely acknowledged to be the grandaddy of postmodern novels.

If you have read any of DeLillo’s later fare (I hate to grace them with the epithet of ‘novels’), it is striking how much balls-to-the-wall fun the author was having with ‘White Noise’ and sticking it to popular culture, academia, and literature in general.

It is truly a madcap ride, with characters spouting dialogue as if they were a combination of philosophers, politicians and sociologists, radios (yes, radios!) blaring cryptic messages in the background that are dropped into the text willy-nilly, together with lots of brand names and advertising slogans, and wild tonal shifts. And all sputtering towards an ambiguous ending likely to infuriate readers as much as it disappoints them. Ah, postmodernism!

I first encountered DeLillo with ‘Underworld’ (1997), still one of the greatest books I have ever read. He followed this 827-page American epic with the scant 128-page ‘The Body Artist’ in 2001, beginning a period of literary experimentation and stylistic devolution that shows no sign of ending. Or imploding. I suppose it is a logical extension of his postmodern phase. But it sure ain’t fun for the reader. I defy anyone to read a book like ‘Zero K’ (2016) without so much eye-rolling it appears they are having an epileptic fit.

While I wasn’t a fan of ‘Cosmopolis’ (2003) as a book, largely due to the deliberately flat and wooden dialogue (who the fuck talks like that in real life?), the 2012 David Cronenberg movie, which retains most of the book’s dialogue, actually works. So, a strong argument could be made that DeLillo has been embarking on a long-term experiment to distil the novel itself into a kind of multivalent ‘white noise’ that highly intuitive and deeply weird directors like Cronenberg (whose latest move ‘Crimes of the Future’ was my personal favourite of 2022) gravitate to like bees to nectar.

Cronenberg also successfully adapted J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel ‘Crash’ in 1996, searing the essence of Ballardian into the minds of everyone who saw that visual mind-fuck. One thing about DeLillo’s writing is that, to my knowledge, he has never been afforded his own adjective. Which is probably best for our sanity. Of course, Steven Spielberg turned Ballard’s 1984 autobiography ‘Empire of the Sun’ into a notable schmaltz-fest in 1987.

So, my hesitation to watch ‘White Noise’ the movie is whether it is a Spielberg or Cronenberg type of adaptation. Does director fuse with writer (like Brundlefly?) to put some glorious new beast onto the screen, or is it a tepid misfire that woefully echoes the derangement and subversive subtext of the original?

The airborne toxic event that features so prominently in the trailer is the title of the long about 50-page middle section that reads likes something from a totally different novel and seems curiously detached from the rest of the book, even though its aftermath looms over everything that follows.

I was reminded of another book about an airborne toxic event, ‘Floating Dragon’ (1982) by the late great Peter Straub. This kind of manifestation of an external beyond-our-control human-made event as an existential threat and crisis must have been part of the socio-political zeitgeist at the time. Oh, and Airborne Toxic Event is also the name of an LA rock band established in 2006.

What ‘White Noise’ tells me is that I have to begin reading DeLillo pre-‘Underworld’ to understand him better. And that writers are not obligated to write anything to necessarily please (or placate) their readers. DeLillo has been remarkably steadfast and uncompromising in following and being true to his Muse.

And no, I have not yet watched the movie.
Profile Image for Javier.
217 reviews128 followers
June 12, 2022
Cuando hace un par de años me trasladé a vivir al campo, me asombró lo ruidoso —como en la novela de Bohumil Hrabal— que puede ser el silencio. Ahora, recientemente de vuelta en un entorno más urbano, el ruido de fondo de la civilización me resulta ensordecedor. Pero, cuando uno se acostumbra, detrás de la cacofonía de voces, músicas y tráfico, si se escucha con atención, se puede oír el mensaje: “consume, consume.”
Desde aquel infausto día a principios del siglo XX en que a un humilde emigrante judío de origen austriaco afincado en los Estados Unidos llamado Edward Bernays se le ocurrió aplicar las novedosas teorías de su tío —un tal Freud— al mundo de la publicidad, el consumismo se ha convertido en rasgo principal de la sociedad occidental.
El propio DeLillo, antes de dedicarse a la literatura, trabajó en una agencia de publicidad y, aunque no tardó mucho tiempo en comprender que aquello no era para él, sin duda aprendió lo suficiente sobre los mecanismos de la sociedad de consumo como para recelar de por vida del poder del consumismo, una desconfianza que queda patente en sus obras, especialmente en White Noise.
La novela, como nuestras vidas, parece girar únicamente en torno al concepto de sociedad de consumo, pero la narración es difusa como el sonido del título. En el texto, el ruido de fondo lo forman digresiones no relacionadas con la trama, conversaciones intrascendentes, y por supuesto la omnipresente televisión, emitiendo sin parar mensajes inconexos en segundo plano. La prosa de DeLillo, densa, compacta, plagada de referencias, es perfecta para reproducir ese murmullo homogéneo e indiferenciado.
I realized the place was awash in noise. The toneless systems, the jangle and skid of carts, the loudspeaker and coffee-making machines, the cries of children. And over it all, or under it all, a dull and unlocatable roar, as of some form of swarming life just outside the range of human apprehension.

¿Y la trama? El protagonista y narrador, Jack Gladney, es catedrático en la Universidad de una pequeña ciudad norteamericana. Con una visión más comercial —y esta es una primera referencia al tema del consumismo— que académica, ha promovido la creación de una cátedra en Estudios sobre Hitler, con la que ha llegado a cosechar un notable éxito. Jack está casado con Babette, una mujer sencilla, sólida, hogareña, que no tiene secretos para él, y vive con una pequeña multitud de hijos —bastante más despiertos y competentes que los adultos— de diferentes matrimonios anteriores. Jack es, en resumen, algo a medio camino entre el paradigma y la caricatura del varón norteamericano, maduro, de clase media acomodada; el típico engranaje de la maquinaria consumista.
It seemed to me that Babette and I, in the mass and variety of our purchases, in the sheer plenitude those crowded bags suggested, the weight and size and number, the familiar package designs and vivid lettering, the giant sizes, the family bargain packs with Day-Glo sale stickers, in the sense of replenishment we felt, the sense of well-being, the security and contentment these products brought to some snug home in our souls — it seemed we had achieved a fullness of being that is not known to people who need less, expect less, who plan their lives around lonely walks in the evening.

La mayoría de la novela la forman digresiones e hilos narrativos —escritos con riqueza y fluidez asombrosas— vagamente relacionados entre sí, pero dos acontecimientos dan estructura a la narración a la vez que precipitan la descomposición del paraíso particular de Jack: un derrame de un producto químico altamente tóxico —o no, nadie lo tiene realmente claro— que desencadena la evacuación masiva de la ciudad y el descubrimiento de que Babette está tomando una medicación misteriosa.
“Because we’re suffering from brain fade. We need an occasional catastrophe to break up the incessant bombardment of information.”

Ambos acontecimientos, en realidad, son la forma que tiene DeLillo de confrontar la burbuja en la que viven los protagonistas, donde nada malo puede llegar a suceder, con su único miedo: el miedo a morir.
En realidad, no es el único; Jack, además de sentir terror ante el prospecto de su propia desaparición —esa muerte moderna: impersonal, limpia, tecnológica—, vive atenazado por el temor de ser desenmascarado como un impostor; el especialista en Hitler que no habla una palabra de alemán, el marido perfecto incapaz de retener una mujer a su lado, el erudito que no consigue entender el mundo que le rodea…
La obsesión por racionalizar la realidad es otro de los temas de White Noise. Jack, a pesar de su pose intelectual, se ha rendido hace tiempo y se conforma con repetir las teorías de otros. Por ejemplo, las de su amigo y colega Murray Siskind, excomentarista deportivo reconvertido en profesor universitario quien, siguiendo el ejemplo de Jack, quiere crear una cátedra sobre Elvis. Murray, que dedica todo su tiempo a tratar de comprender qué hay detrás de la sociedad de consumo, ha identificado los dos lugares donde mejor se puede investigar; los principales generadores de ruido de fondo: la televisión —evidentemente— y el supermercado, con su inagotable abundancia perfectamente ordenada en pasillos paralelos: un templo moderno donde uno puede alcanzar un completo sentimiento de trascendencia adorando a los dioses del dinero.
Pero todo intento es inútil; la verdad, si es que existe, es relativa y lo auténtico y lo artificial se confunden hasta fundirse en una misma materia.
Por ejemplo, Murray lleva a Jack a visitar una de las principales atracciones turísticas de la zona, el Granero Más Fotografiado de América. Allí, delante de un granero absolutamente convencional rodeado de cientos de personas armados con sus cámaras, Murray le explica que la construcción no tiene nada de especial y que lo único que lo hace atractivo es el hecho de ser fotografiado por miles de turistas.
“Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”
Another silence ensued.
“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.

Es una reflexión tan esclarecedora como triste sobre cómo asignamos valor a lo que nos rodea. Y por si quedaba alguna duda de que vivimos una gran farsa, ahí están los chicos de SIMUVAC —un organismo dedicado a organizar simulacros de catástrofes— encantados por poder participar en la evacuación tras el vertido tóxico —no para aportar su experiencia en pasados simulacros, sino para mejorar, a partir de un evento real, futuros ejercicios. Es mundo de cartón piedra, el magnífico decorado de una película sin argumento.
Si todo es falso, si es imposible conocer la verdad, y además nos da pavor descubrirla y que se trate de una revelación terrible, solo nos queda conectar los puntos —acontecimientos, imágenes, fechas, datos aleatorios— con la esperanza de que aparezca un dibujo que desvele el sentido, si no de la vida, al menos de la información con que nos bombardean los medios.
Pero nos encontramos más a gusto protegidos por el ensordecedor ruido de fondo que nos impide oír lo que no queremos escuchar. Esa marea de productos y de información que ahoga nuestros sentidos no es sino una espesa cortina tras la que ocultar la angustia que nos produce nuestra mortalidad, siempre al acecho. Aunque quizá la propia muerte es ruido de fondo absoluto, un estado de eterna indefinición. En todo caso, ¿significa eso que el miedo a morir está justificado o que, por el contrario, no hay nada que temer?
“I think it’s a mistake to lose one’s sense of death, even one’s fear of death. Isn’t death the boundary we need? Doesn’t it give a precious texture to life, a sense of definition? You have to ask yourself whether anything you do in this life would have beauty and meaning without the knowledge you carry of a final line, a border or limit.” (…)
“It’s almost as though our fear is what brings it on. If we could learn not to be afraid, we could live forever.”

¿Y si toda esta estructura que hemos montado para ocultarnos de la muerte, o de la verdad, o de lo que sea que nos aterroriza, fuese la verdadera causa de nuestra angustia? Quizá el miedo a morir es peor que la propia muerte y, huyendo de ella, huimos de la vida.
Profile Image for Stephen M.
137 reviews603 followers
December 29, 2011
After getting through this book for a third time, I'm still blown away by it. Although the social satire becomes more obvious on multiple readings, there are more than enough mind-blowing moments to make it worthwhile. I still have a few questions.

What does Wilder crying at the end mean? Is that him finally speaking? Or is it some semblance of hope?

Is Dylar real? Is it a placebo?

What happens to Mr. Gray at the end? At one moment he is about to die, then the next it cuts away to an argument about religion.

There are too many quotes to insert here. But these are a few of my favorite:

“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”

“We finally agreed that I should invent an extra initial and call myself J.A.K. Gladney, a tag I wore like a borrowed suit… So Hitler gave me something to grow into and develop toward, tentative as I have sometimes been in the effort. The glasses with thick black heavy frames and dark lenses were my own idea, an alternative to the bushy beard that my wife of the period didn’t want me to grow…I am the false character that follows the name around”

"The smoke alarm went off in the hallway upstairs, either to let us know the battery had just died or because the house was on fire. We finished out lunch in silence

"I want to believe [Atilla the Hun] lay in his tent, wrapped in animal skins, as in some internationally financed movie epic, and said brave cruel things to his aides and retainers. No weakening of the spirit. No sense of the irony of human existence, that we are the highest form of life on earth and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die."

Don Delillo is a genius.

Although it can be a bit fatalistic, it is a brutal satire about the modern life. All the characters are products of the desensitization of the information age. All tragedies are new clippings. The television flattens out the character's ability to properly distinguish between the horrible and the ordinary. Even the television screen becomes a symbol for this. The flatness of the screen represents the flatness of every character. Jack is an unemotional shell, until the end where it all blows up. The description of what happens at the end is haunting. Since so much of the book dwells on the fear of death, it is lost in the abstract. Delillo purposely channels all the worries and fear into strange and oblique dialogue. But at the end, death is thrown in Jack's face. It is horrifying. When death becomes a real and tangible thing for the characters, so it does for the reader, it is written so realistically. That's how good Delillo is.

But mostly what gets me about this book is Delillo's ability to blend hundreds of different philosophies into single moments in the book. It is the perfect distillation of the post-modern condition, to live under the weight of the thousands of different ideas and philosophies all crashing down into the present moment. It is difficult to find any meaning out of the hodge-podge of modern life. Not only that, but the characters endure hundreds of meaningless facts and bits of tabloid information; studies show this, no studies show that. How can one possibly handle all these things coming in at once? Delillo's answer is brain fade. The brain fade causes everyone to dumb down everything. The only way to process so much of the information being thrown at us is to compartmentalize it all, sort it into manageable figures. It all desensitizes us to the emotional and moral attention that reality ought to have.

It is amazing that this was written in 1985. All these problems have only been amplified in light of the information age and the internet. I would say that some of things he writes seems obvious or understood only because we are so seeped in such a culture. But like I said, this is the pessimistic way to look at it.

Here's my contribution to the The Big Audio Project: http://soundcloud.com/stephenmirabito...
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,256 reviews451 followers
April 23, 2019
It is my practice to review a book immediately after reading it, if I can. That way it's fresh in my mind and I'm also writing while I'm still under the influence of the book and my feelings about it. Right now, I am so awed and affected by this book that if I tried to compress its meaning into a few paragraphs, it would just come out as gibberish. So I will tell you instead why it's 5 stars and why it will go onto my favorites list.
This novel was written 35 years ago, and is even more relevant today than it would have been then. I laughed a lot at the dialogue and the family situations, then sat back and thought "Wow". I started out highlighting sentences, then had to quit, because there were just too many great lines. I loved everything about a book I wasn't even sure I wanted to read at first. The conclusion silenced my brain for a few minutes, when I realized what a remarkable feat this author had accomplished.

5 stars not because it left me with a warm feeling or a sense of having learned something. In fact, it confused me in many places and left me wondering what, in fact, I actually do know. 5 stars because every page had me thinking in new ways, along new paths, more so than any book I can remember in the last few years. More importantly, 5 stars because it changed the way I look at our world. That's what classic literature should do.

Thank you, Laura!
Profile Image for Jonathan Ashleigh.
Author 1 book118 followers
March 14, 2016
This book should be read by everyone who is planning on dying. The teenage boy is the best character and he isn't given enough attention, but still, this book is well worth anyone's time. Don DeLillo helped inspire the likes of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk. For that, I am thankful he and this book exist.
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