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White Noise

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  78,157 ratings  ·  4,405 reviews
A brilliant satire of mass culture and the numbing effects of technology, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America. Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by their love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-nam ...more
Paperback, Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century, 320 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  78,157 ratings  ·  4,405 reviews

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Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: for people who take pills for a reason
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 discuss ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elyse Walters
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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? REAL
Feb 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 enlighte
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, bu
May 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hipster nihilists
Recommended to Dorothea by: My Dad!
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, a
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: believers
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the sentry to the island of misfit toys

If I had it my way, as soon as you clicked on my review this song would blare from your speakers: (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
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο   Αμ
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 το
Kevin Kelsey
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,
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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 t
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 "condi
Ahmad Sharabiani
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 (H
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 100, classic-lit
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 mill
Stephen M
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: obras-maestras
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
Paul Bryant
Oct 12, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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.
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews
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 s
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic-novels
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
Feb 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Teenagers being raised in suburbia who totally hate it/their parents
Recommended to Christy by: Someone who thought confronting consumerism was shocking.
I noticed there is a "Don Delillo's White Noise: A Reader's Guide" out there. I find that funny, but also somewhat offensive.

I'll come right out a say that I don't like Delillo, and am shocked by people who claim that he is a "good writer." Is being a good author the same as being a good writer? Shouldn't an author have something worthwhile to say, and shouldn't he be able to keep us interested while doing so? His characters are terribly one-note, his dialogue painfully contrived. I've decided t
Rakhi Dalal
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: compelling
Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed.

-----------R.W.Emerson, Nature

White noise compellingly carries with it an inexorable clamour which seems to characterize the kind of lives that are lived today: a fear, panic or anxiety; of death, things terrible or
B the BookAddict
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: This Day in Literary History thread in AAB group
Shelves: bingo-challenge
White Noise is Don DeLillo’s eighth novel and was written in 1985. Set at a Midwestern college, it follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies. He is currently married to his fifth wife and is bringing up a brood of children and stepchildren with said wife, Babette. The couple share a morbid fear of death and frequently lay in bed discussing which one of them wants to die first. A chemical spill, an Airborne Toxic Event, ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nord-america

La vita "durante" la vita

Non posso negare di avere faticato un po' nella comprensione (sempre che li abbia compresi...) di ogni libro di Delillo che ho letto.

Questo Rumore bianco, del 1985, è un romanzo relativamente semplice e piacevole da leggere a un primo livello, anche se ci si accorge quasi subito che le situazioni descritte sono semplicemente assurde e quasi comiche.

Genitori meno assennati dei loro figlioletti, esimii studiosi di Hitler che non conoscono il tedesco (e che non studiano ma
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Two waves of strangeness collide in this wacky, Edward Albeeesque yarn of radiation via ultraconsumerism. There is 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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usa
E’ molto difficile commentare questo libro. Parlare della trama banalizzerebbe il romanzo, ricchissimo di riflessioni sociologiche e anche filosofiche che si esprimono soprattutto nei dialoghi tra i protagonisti, sempre profondi pur nella quotidianità in cui si svolgono, quella di una famiglia americana. Ogni parola è precisa e incisiva come se avesse una sua propria ragion d’essere: per questo la lettura richiede cura ed attenzione particolari, ed è sempre per questo motivo che non è possibile ...more
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*2017 "Maawuj, that bwessed awanjement, that dweam wiff-in a dweam" Award* for Most Pecuwer Maawuj in Wittawatur I Wed

Thanatophobia Θ et Il Intimidito Cornuto

"Tanatos" by Mauricio García Vega

At its essence, White Noise is a dark and darkly comic novel about a college professor living in the shadow of death and haunted by erotic humiliation, il intimidito cornuto in the age of consumerism against a background of rhubarb racket (or, white noise).

J.A.K. Gladney is the neurotic Chair of Hitler Stu
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Να ξεκαθαρίσω πως ο "Υπόγειος κόσμος" του DeLillo συγκαταλέγεται στα πιο σημαντικά βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει. Εν συγκρίσει με αυτό, ο "Λευκός θόρυβος" κατά τη γνώμη μου υπολείπεται. Δεν πρόκειται επ' ουδενί για κακό ή μέτριο βιβλίο - αναγνώρισα σημεία δημιουργικής ευρηματικότητας, φιλοσοφικής πληρότητας, συγγραφικής επάρκειας.
Εκείνο που ίσως με ξένισε εδώ -και μου κάνει εντύπωση που δεν το διάβασα σε κάποια κριτική ως τώρα - είναι μια κάποια αίσθηση υπερκάλυψης από πλευράς ύφους. Κάπως σαν ένας ά
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: smart people who don't get fat on American Idol.
This is probably the most accessible of Delillo's works, the one which I could pull off my shelf, dust off it's weathered skin, and hand to you, saying, "This is what the master does best." Or something a little less Masterpiece Theatre-y, but you get my drift.

It also contains a single line that probably sums up his entire literary career: "All plots move deathward."

Wikipedia talks about the book being a "absurdist family drama combined with academic satire." Yeah, that's a good start. Really,
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-novels
This is supposed to be a postmodern classic; I'm not so sure. It's meant to be a literary classic; one of the great novels of the twentieth century. Again I'm not sure, but I really enjoyed it. It is a very funny novel about very serious subjects.
Jack and Babette Gladney, live in a typical american town where Jack is an academic who teaches Hitler Studies (without knowing any German). They have assorted children from previous marraiges; all of whom are interesting characters in their own right.
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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
“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.” 269 likes
“I've got death inside me. It's just a question of whether or not I can outlive it.” 222 likes
More quotes…