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Americana

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  4,908 ratings  ·  389 reviews
En nous lançant aux trousses de David Bell, l’inquiet et séduisant narrateur du roman, Don DeLillo nous entraîne dans les arcanes d’une société où l’on bascule facilement du confort de l’establishment au vagabondage, sous l’influence de mythes, fantasmes et obsessions auxquels se raccrochent les personnages irrésistibles qui peuplent cette aventure.
Premier roman de l’écriv
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Paperback, 454 pages
Published August 10th 1993 by Actes Sud (first published 1971)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  4,908 ratings  ·  389 reviews


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Violet wells
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I’ve now completed the set, read all DeLillo’s books. This is his first novel and though impressive as a first novel doesn’t really have much to recommend it in my eyes. It’s narrated by an obnoxious filmmaker who heads West to find his creative soul, sort of like a literary road movie. We get lots of snapshots of American life; we also get quite a lot of overwriting and a fair smattering of pretentiousness.

A fascinating feature of his books is that they often begin on a more inspired plane tha
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Darwin8u
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2017, american
I've taken a bit of a break from reading books, but this one. This one was a great novel to plunge into, head first (not realling, I knew exactly what I was jumping). Delillo is one of the first, great American, literary novelists who made me WANT to write. I still remember when I was 17 reading MAO II from a small, military library and being absolutely blown away by every paragraph. The novel practically pulsed in my hands. I felt somethhing alive in the words and something that was both danger ...more
Vit Babenco
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Americana is a story of existential emptiness…
The war was on television every night but we all went to the movies. Soon most of the movies began to look alike and we went into dim rooms and turned on or off, or watched others turn on or off, or burned joss sticks and listened to tapes of near silence.

Emptiness is universal, it is all around and there are all modifications of it: spiritual, cultural, intellectual, societal… So one has nothing to do but to obey one’s basic instincts…
…the girls wer
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
A Polished Set of Pieties

My first experience of the DeLillo-Rama was "The Names" and until now I had only read one of the earlier novels - "Great Jones Street" - though I was trying to keep up with the later novels.

Little did I realise what a gem was waiting for me in "Americana", DeLillo's first novel.

It's 377 pages long, divided into four parts and 12 chapters, but it reads as fluently as a novel two-thirds its size.

Its relative brevity doesn't detract from its ability to explore or dramat
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Lee Klein
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alert! Attention! This is not "a road novel"! It's marketed as that, like that Kerouac scroll from sea to shining sea, but this is not that. It's just as much or more so an office novel and a coming-of-age/emerging artistic sensibility/search-for-meaning novel. Disregard all commentary that doesn't acknowledge that this is a triptych. The third section takes place to a degree on the road but for the most part they're stalled out in Fort Curtis, maybe in Illinois or Missouri, filming an artsy exp ...more
Greg
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Here is a song for this review. I like the original better, but this cover isn't too shabby either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX7QAn...

I'm going to throw out an idea. Maybe it's not really a good one, or true or maybe it's something that's obvious, which all of the above are probably the case for most of my ideas but here it goes: when you get right down to it, America is a country without history. Instead we're a nation of stories and myths. We have the stories of the founding fathers that
...more
Sentimental Surrealist
It seems that this has only entered the pop culture discourse as a sort of proto-American Psycho, based around the idea that its first segment is about the shallow nature of corporate America and the personality-free drones that make their fortunes within the confines of that system. I don't quite agree with that, because I think it ignores two key interlocking facets of this novel. For one, the "office politics" segment only lasts about a hundred pages, before David Bell (who most would hold as ...more
Kyle
Aug 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Just really unbelievable that he can get away with so blatant and heavy a freudian plot point. Along with the iron-fisted relationships drawn between flashback and present action. All of it. The disastrous last act, the disastrous bookend premise of the narrator's presence. And still, STILL, a book everyone should read, especially everyone who wants to write a novel, because here is a masterful author's uniquely unmasterful first stab, since esteemed as a masterpiece for its sheer unmasterfulnes ...more
Neil
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I was thinking about which authors have been with me during the whole of my adult reading life. There aren’t many: some do not write for that long (we are talking 40+ years) and in some cases my reading tastes simply changed over the years and we drifted apart. But Don Delillo is one such writer. My memory is that I “discovered” Delillo in 1982 when I picked up a copy of his then just published book, The Names (I was just 21 and the proud owner of a shiny new university degree). And I have stuck ...more
  LunaBel
Americana is DeLillo's first novel, but i cant say that it seems to be the first he wrote. it's as if he never really advanced in his writing. It's as if he chose a way of writing and stuck to it until now. Americana deals with a man, David Bell, who leaves his job in order to 'live,' but he goes on an advanture from which he never recoveres...
sologdin
This novel initiates a number of standard DeLillo ideas insofar as it involves:

A) A producer of hyperreal fictions laments the “disturbingly elapsed quality” inherent in existing “only on videotape” (23); dude likes to review “schizograms from girls” such as “Hello from the scenic coast of Nebraska” (22); he’ll refer to someone as a “living schizogram” later (51); the term is defined as “an exercise in diametrics which attempts to unmake meaning” (347). He’ll refer at one point to how “the dece
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Lisa
AmericanaI’ve had mixed success with award-winning American author Don DeLillo. I abandoned the first one I tried (The Body Artist) but I was very impressed by Falling Man (see my review) even though it’s a challenging book to read. I picked up Americana (1971) when I stumbled on it at the library because I have just bought a copy of award-winning Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah from the Africa Book Club - and I wanted to see if she drew at all on DeLillo’s novel with a similar so ...more
Jeff Jackson
DeLillo's debut contains the seeds of his better future novels and the remnants of typical American fiction that he would forever leave behind. The first section is an absurdist office comedy that's eerily close to "Mad Men." The second section reads like a remix of Updike or Cheever. The third is an examination of stasis and begins DeLillo's ongoing fascination with artists, representations of reality, and extreme works of art. The final section reads like "Two Lane Blacktop" scripted by Robert ...more
George
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An interesting, cleverly written, tough read. There is little in the way of plot momentum and the characters are generally uninteresting, however as with all DeLillo novels, the writing is sublime. The novel is set in the late 1960s and is about David Bell, 28 year old TV executive who goes on a filming assignment across the USA. Along the way he uses his movie camera to film a script he has written. He easily finds people to read his script in front of the camera. David has an active ...more
Nate D
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
I once saw this book referenced (I no longer recall by who) as an example of the First Novels Are Most Quintessential principle. Not necessarily best, but just the most like the body of work they open. The idea has some merit, especially in this case: DeLillo has always grappled with the meaning of modernity in American life, through any number of lenses, but only in this first and aptly named version did he just plunge in head-on, laying out thematic territory we would return to again and again ...more
Rayroy
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delillo writes about image and death and it seems that most of his characters are fascinated by war and terrorism, whether it’s David Bell from Americana or Gary Harkness of End Zone. At times it’s as if Delillo is writing thru a video camera and there’s a sense of excellent cinematography in all of Delillo’s work. Americana is Don Delillo’s first novel and I loved it but felt that the third part was lacking something, it didn’t do a lot for me and felt the other three parts were much better. I ...more
Kaitlin
Sep 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
White Noise is one of my favorites. This didn't do it for me. It's dated and was almost painful to read; all the characters are self-absorbed and one-sided. It's written almost as stream of consciousness, but grates because it's trying too hard to prove something.

I am planning to read Libra soon because the concept is just too interesting. I wish I'd passed on this one though.
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Stephen Gibson
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don DeLillo’s first novel is something of a mixed bag and will not be to everyone’s taste. Clearly brimming with talent, DeLillo seems to have a hard time focusing on exactly what he wants the novel to be. Seen through the troubled eyes of young New York television executive David Bell, DeLillo first immerses us in a ‘Mad Men’ style comic portrait of high rise office life, before flashing back to David’s childhood, before finally taking us out on a long distance road trip. So far, so appealing. ...more
Adam
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose, 1970-present
DeLillo's debut novel is all about the real (hyperreal) stuff of America and Americana: its image(s). He still hadn't worked out the magnificent prose style of most of his later work but this book's got it's own mojo working. The major themes of this novel were revisited, in various different ways, in many (most?) of DeLillo's later work, but this novel really tears into Americana. It's like Two-Lane Blacktop and David Lynch collided head-on with, well, Don DeLillo. It's a nightmare, and nightma ...more
WordsBeyondBorders
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Don Dellilo's works have been described as novels of ideas and I agree with that. Several of his novels have an idea/concept/contemporary social more as the base and the characters in the novel serve as props for that. (It could be consumerism/threat of nuclear warfare in 'White Noise', power of the mob/television in 'Mao II'. )However this is not to give an impression that Dellilo is trying to shove things down the readers throat, not at all. On the other hand, it seems to me like he has someth ...more
Denny
I had not previously read any of DeLillo’s work when, as I sat perplexed in my office late on a Monday afternoon wondering what to listen to next during my lengthy daily commute, while browsing my awesome library’s mind-boggling collection of electronic audiobooks, I stumbled across Americana. Hmm, I thought, the title is eye-catching, and the blurb sounds intriguing, so why not give it a whirl?

While Americana was downloading to my trusty Kindle, I did some quick research on DeLillo and learned
...more
Trevor
Jul 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I read this years ago, and quite liked it - though it is not really his best book. There a wonderful part in it where the writer is making a film and has written the script on the walks of the motel room he is in and gets the actor to read the script as he uses the camera to either film the actor or pan the text on the walls.

His books are filled with incredibly strong images that stay with your for years and years.
Ren
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea how to rate this book. I hated it. I loved it. I hated it more. I loved it again. I threw it across the room. There is so much to hate, but then you find lines like, "We are what we remember," or "If you let yourself be what you want to be, physically and spiritually, you can kill a lot of the death inside you," so you keep reading because there's more like them, shining and beautiful among the muck.
Jim
A great poke at Madison Avenue!

From the beginning of DeLillo's career and a must read for his fans.
Boz Reacher
I dragged ass all through this for over a week and stayed up late to finally just be done with it, and found myself at 5am laughing hysterically at this one particularly vulgar and hysterically funny scene very near the end, to the extent that the big cat was expressing heavy waves of concern from his perch on the couch arm - and the big cat concerns himself with very little these days. I was lost for a few medium-long stretches - as lost as the narrator is in his fever dream of elaborately prod ...more
Illiterate
America as alienation and simulacrum - empty lives and silver screens.
Karn Kher
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
It tries to be Heller and Kerouac. It fails at both.
Lacey
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I really wanted to like this book. I remember when I read DeLillo's book "Libra" that I had been completely enamored with his prose. It was a really good book, and he had a penchant for detail that was completely unmatched. And the prose in Americana is good, but I just didn't like it as much. It's not DeLillo's best.

There are a lot of good things I can say about the book. I did love his repetition of icons and ideas that really are associated with Americana: the cheap hotel room, the idea of fe
...more
Titus Burley
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Americana is a brilliant book - akin in its imagery rich rants to Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. It is experimental satire of high order; a book written in a more blessed time when a major publisher would risk printing a first novel that follows none of the predictable maxims of storytelling. It is a novel without villain unless that villain is at times the narrator, David Bell, himself. Bell in essence goes on a physical cross-country quest to remedy a growing disenchantment with his world ...more
Phil
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it
It's been ages since I read any DeLillo and so going back and reading his first book was an odd experience. Clearly I wasn't going to get something on the scale of Underworld which, at least in memory, is an amazing book but I was hoping for something as good as White Noise. For some reason this didn't quite get there for me. The writing style is consistently good and hits brilliant heights in places - I loved the sections on the main character's pal who does talk radio in a complete monologue i ...more
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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
...more

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