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End Zone

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  3,127 ratings  ·  308 reviews
Gary Harkness is a football player and student at Logos College, West Texas. During a season of unprecedented success on the football field, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the threat of nuclear war. Both frightened and fascinated by the prospect, he listens to his team-mates discussing match tactics in much the same terms as military generals might contemplate globa ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published 1973 by Pocket Books (first published 1972)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,127 ratings  ·  308 reviews

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Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius

"The language game is so to say something unpredictable. I mean, it is not based on grounds. It is not reasonable (or unreasonable). It is there—like our life" - Wittgenstein

Once in Jr. High, I was playing a game of rugby (or as close to a game of rugby as you can get weighing 95lbs at a small private school in Provo, UT) and was totally blindsided during the 'game'. There was a moment after I pulled my face out of the dirt where I tasted both blood and clarity. Everything seemed at once to pos
Violet wells
For someone who knows virtually nothing about American football this wasn’t an easy novel for me to read. The only two Delillo novels I hadn’t read were this and Americana, his first and I’m determined to complete the set. I think it was Martin Amis who said that when we say we love an author we generally mean we love half of the novels written by them. This is certainly true for me with regards DeLillo. I hated Ratner’s Star and was left indifferent by Point Omega, Cosmopolis and Players. Howev ...more
Read By RodKelly
Don DeLillo is a difficult writer for me to review. His way with language is so magisterial and unique and I've had a time discovering where and why my own words fail in trying to dissemble his novels into meager reviews. In essence, his writing skips over plot in favor of something like a pure exercise in the delights of language. He riffs. He plays. Whatever the chosen subject, he bends his peculiar stylistic idiosyncrasies around the form of that subject and generates a hybridized and altoget ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
An Explosion Over the Desert

You could spend weeks or even months inside this short novel.

It's as rewarding as it is challenging.

There are multiple characters with multiple points of view. It's not clear whether any are supposed to represent DeLillo's reconciled or concluded views, or, rather, whether it's the debate that matters (and that that debate could and should continue).

The debate concerns reality, consciousness, identity, silence and language. Oh yeah, and war and football and weight los
Lee Klein
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Loved re-reading this after 25 years or so. Had nearly no memory of it. Finished it the day after the first NBA playoff games, mid-August in a "bubble," the court and jerseys emblazoned with social justice slogans, all of which relates in a way to this unique, accessible, totally enjoyable distillation of DeLillo's typical themes and approaches. It's a systems novel (collegiate football program) largely about death, spirituality, manliness, language (and the unspeakable), and global thermonuclea ...more
Nick Wellings
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Splendid book, near perfect in places.

Sterile declarative verbal utterances imitate speech and unfurl as prettily as perfect football plays. However, meaning teeters on the edge of blank tautology that in the end declares only the unsaid: the core of modern angst that is Delillo's abiding theme in most of his books. This is speech that does violence to language as the footballers of Harkness' college do violence to each other both on and off field.

In places the novel is hilarious. The football g
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritism
Third read of this, each time moving higher up my DeLillo-meter. This is directly proportionate to the less seriously I take myself and/or life. End Zone is the one instance where Don's patented 'approximating humanoid' dialogue really serves a function. Of course no one talks like the characters in DeLillo's books, but here that is sort of the joke. Still one of his best endings, and in my Top 5 by the Don. ...more
W.D. Clarke
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
First half was 5* all the way, as Double-D made a massive leap forward in just about every sense imaginable from his first novel Americana (& in fact I'd say he sets up not only his recurring themes in this book for all of those that follow it, but his narrative techniques as well, and his amazing ventriloquizing of all of these strange vectors of the American experience that as readers we may have had our intimations of at one point or another, but only when DD sets them down on paper do they e ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
“I have a deep thought for you. Science fiction is just beginning to catch up with the Old Testament. See artificial nitrates run off into the rivers and oceans. See carbon dioxide melt the polar ice caps. See the world's mineral reserves dwindle. See war, famine and plague. See barbaric hordes defile the temple of virgins. See wild stallions mount the prairie dogs. I said science fiction but I guess I meant science. Anyway there's some kind of mythical and/or historic circle-thing being complet ...more
I must be a complete cock, because whenever anyone talks about football—including, as here, the august DeLillo—I immediately revert to my Waterboy roots:
Foos-ball? Buncha overgrown monsters man-handlin' each other... 'Member when dat man wanted you to play foos-ball, Bobby?
As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s more probable than not that I’m an original goodreads asshole. For this review, at least, this is because I was traumatized by high school foos-ball and still have fucking nightmares about it, exc
Cathy Shive
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
football is not warfare. warfare is warfare and history is the placement of bodies.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Perhaps this is a little bit difficult to explain, but trapped within this novel of frustratingly psuedo-intellectual conversations, for instance, regarding the nature of nihilism, is a very real attempt to understand, the posturing of language fitting well to convey the ideas and the attitudes, the wanderings and the self-inflated egos and poorly thought out convictions that plague the youth of the world. It is a novel about finding the self, and it is, even more so, about the fear of losing it ...more
Jack Waters
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
Love DeLillo, love End Zone. D.F. Wallace, my favorite author, clearly borrowed a few pages late in this novel for his incredible 'Eschaton' section of Infinite Jest. ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-count-08, sport
Have you ever been reading a book and been kind of lost? I mean, you understand what’s going on and who the different characters are, but you’re lost as to the purpose of the book? I felt that way about Don DeLillo’s End Zone. I understood the basic plot - a small West Texas college football team’s season, as told by one of the running backs, who is obsessed with nuclear war - but pages and pages of rambling monologues and dialogues went by and I didn’t get anything out of them. I felt as though ...more
Written over a decade before White Noise, it's a whole lot of DeLillo ideas in their embryonic forms. Nuclear war, metaphor upon metaphor, America as incoherent fever dream, sort of humor that really isn't humor. The only problem is that as a young writer, he tried to condense these things into a fairly short book. They need to be given breathing room. As in White Noise, or, better yet, Underworld, which is a great and magisterial tome. But hey, it's early work, and it's got some of that wonderf ...more
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-give-up
this is a total guy book.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
I really liked End Zone, but I'm not entirely sure whether this book is truly successful in what it tries to do. The main thing, I think, is that despite having finished it, I'm still not entirely sure what this book is trying to do. It reads almost like a slice-of-life story, as Gary Harkness tries to discover his place in the world while playing college-level football. But that's not really what it's about, because Harkness seems more interested in war, and his complex relationship with the lo ...more
Megha Chakraborty
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was Delillo’s second novel and my second Delillo as well. Our Protagonist Gary Harkness decides to go to Logos College in West Texas to focus on his football. The setting is a small Texas college. Attention is focused on the football team, their preparations, and a struggle to gain the 60-yard line in a game with a team they know is superior. The moves are communicated in pre-arranged codes. They get beaten to a pulp. The fans don't really understand that they have been badly physically inj ...more
Jack Waters
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Infinite variables at play interact with slightly enough displacement to alter trajectories, plans, ordered assumption.

So then, football. War. The human search for meaning.

Regardless of planned action, injurious results are to be expected. Nonetheless, it leaves witnesses aghast.

Spit intended to hit the ground instead of pants; a triply-converged-tackle killing a footballer; a set of pale legs distended from a wrecked auto. The effects churn the affected state; are you altered, or is the course
Charles White
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Don Delillo, you rock. You fucking rock.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
idk what's wrong w/ me, but this sort of conceptualization of a book is like painful to me. there's nothing emotionally coherent about this book. there's no physicality or human resembling figure for me to grab onto. literally slippery like a fish.
also i attempted this novel at a time in my life during which i didn't have an abundance of free time, i.e. finals week. maybe this made me particularly short w/ it.
but then again, what kind of book /demands/ you drop all other tasks and only think abt
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I picked this up for 75 cents in a used clothing store in central Tucson, not having read anything by DeLillo since Underworld, and found that I'd been missing DeLillo's fierce intelligence and strange, incantatory poetic vision. But what really surprised me was his humor. As when reading Underworld, I was continually struck by the stylist's able hand with complex concepts, but here, perhaps because of the book's size, or maybe because it is the work of an author who still hadn't assumed his pos ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn it if it isn't a delight to read a book about your favourite sport from one of your favourite authors in their incomparable writing style. DeLillo really "gets" football, in a way that I didn't know was possible for someone to "get" football. The 30+ page part of the book that commentates a football game with all it's minutiae was phenomenal. Reading DeLillo's descriptions it's pretty crazy how little the world of football has changed in the past 45+ years.

Besides football, this book has a
Ritesh Kukrety
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ab_surd
Don DeLillo's End Zone is a curiously absurd book. It is as much about what's written within its pages - about football, about life, about identity, about solipsism - as it is about what's not said - the threat of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the institutional racism that was (and remains) hidden behind the facade of niceties because people just don't know any better. Silence - that's a major theme in the book. Silence after a Holocaust; silence of a city turned into a massive tombstone. It is ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
I kinda feel like DeLillo runs his typically crazyass premise - football as a metaphor for war - into the ground a little here, but then the sort-of famous line about football not being a metaphor for war because war is a metaphor for war is one of those brilliant acts of subversion only DeLillo could pull... in the man's typical style, it's pretty much impossible to tell if he's fucking with us, pulling his whole premise out from under our feet and asking us to look elsewhere for the answer, or ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book borders on gibberish. Football players discussing intellectual topics and nonsense. Long passages of crazy speeches delivered by people on random topics. The university as a kind of island in the middle of nowhere. Reading about nuclear war to relax.

What a great book! Why, though? It makes no sense at all. There's no plot, really. I don't know that anyone learns anything. It's witty. It's weird. I read it with genuine hunger for the words.

It's almost impossible to describe. Mostly styl
Jan 1$
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit. TBR. Fun fact: this book is mentioned in the McCaffery 100 but it is not on the 100 list. It is mentioned alongside the book The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.. ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the most enjoyable of Delillo's work
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: disappointing
Starts great- DeLillo wanders without much plot and the whole book falls apart. Sort of like a cake made badly. Still a cake, but needs more structure.
Sam Tornio
A slim ancestor of Infinite Jest that leaves one with an odd ringing between the ears. Might come back to it. Might not. Who knows.
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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

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“There’s a kind of theology at work here. The bombs are a kind of god. As his power grows, our fear naturally increases. I get as apprehensive as anyone else, maybe more so. We have too many bombs. They have too many bombs. There’s a kind of theology of fear that comes out of this. We begin to capitulate to the overwhelming presence. It’s so powerful. It dwarfs us so much. We say let the god have his way. He’s so much more powerful than we are. Let it happen, whatever he ordains. It used to be that the gods punished men by using the forces of nature against them or by arousing them to take up their weapons and destroy each other. Now god is the force of nature itself, the fusion of tritium and deuterium. Now he’s the weapon. So maybe this time we went too far in creating a being of omnipotent power. All this hardware. Fantastic stockpiles of hardware. The big danger is that we’ll surrender to the sense of inevitability and start flinging mud all over the planet.” 6 likes
“Fee-uck, man. This game is still on. I get that sixty-two yet. I get his ass and whip it into shape. Damnright. I get that shitpiss sixty-two and beat his black ass into the ground."
"He’s white," I said.
"I know he’s white. They’re all white. Everybody’s white. Black fucks.”
More quotes…