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Great Jones Street

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,754 ratings  ·  189 reviews
A troubling satire of the romantic myth of stardom and the empty heart of rock and roll, more relevant than ever in our celebrity-obsessed times.

Bucky Wunderlick is a rock and roll star. Dissatisfied with a life that has brought fame and fortune, he suddenly decides he no longer wants to be a commodity. He leaves his band mid-tour and holes up in a dingy, unfurnished apart
Paperback, 250 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Picador USA (first published 1973)
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Gregory Hunt A devouring neon refers to unprecedented popularity. DeLillo means it as an outshining light: That the 'hero of rock and roll's influence and reach is…moreA devouring neon refers to unprecedented popularity. DeLillo means it as an outshining light: That the 'hero of rock and roll's influence and reach is so very high that the meager stars or people disappear in his light.(less)
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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,754 ratings  ·  189 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Great Jones Street – Don DeLillo’s novel published as part of the 1980s Vintage Contemporaries series where a young rock-and-roll artist seals himself off in a Lower Manhattan down-and-out apartment. Well, there’s the occasional visit from his girlfriend and members of his rock group and hawkers connected with a Happy Valley Commune yammering about a future miracle drug, enough visits to keep his sharp edge very sharp and enough visits to possibly drive a crazy boy crazy.

And here's our man, the
Vit Babenco
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Human thought moves in mysterious ways…
What started it was abstract thought. When man started thinking abstractly he advanced from killing for food to killing for words and ideas

The borderline between the sixties and the seventies of the last century was the time of freaks so Great Jones Street is a freaky postmodern mystery.
All she desired was the brute electricity of that sound. To make the men who made it. To keep moving. To forget everything. To be the sound. That was the only tide she heede
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a weird novel, but I kept feeling like this was an older relative of Cosmopolis, and happens in New York like that book, only a couple decades earlier (circa 1971-73, from winter to very early spring). This is DeLillo's third novel, and should, in my opinion, be approached like a movie that flows and doesn't go too strictly from A to B. I mean, some things are left open-ended a bit and the way people talk may read oddly. I did find myself loving the book from around midpoint on.

It tells
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm going to be dropping some Infinite Jest spoilers throughout this review. So don't read this review if you haven't read Infinite Jest. Seriously, don't read this review. Or read it until I say I'm going to drop a major DFW spoiler (not really I ended up not being nearly as spoiler-ific as I thought I would be, but there is till a major thing said that I believe knowing would make a first reading of Infinite Jest less interesting).

I have a new theory about Infinite Jest and maybe others have h
Ian "Marvin" Graye
"Fame Puts You There Where Things Are Hollow" (1)

This is often regarded as one of DeLillo's lesser novels. However, I can't agree. It continues and anticipates the subject matter for which he has become famous as well as his clipped and precise writing style.

If you're uncertain whether this book might be for you, I urge you to read at least the first chapter (three pages), if not also the last two chapters. The first chapter in particular contains some of the best and most exhilarating writing i
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"Americans persue loneliness in various ways. For me Great Jones Street was a time of prayerful fatigue. I became a half-saint, practiced in visions, informed by a sense of bodily economy, but deficient in true pain."
- Don DeLillo, Great Jones Street


A good DeLillo, just not a great one. I read this on a flight from SF to Phoenix. While there were parts of it that I loved (again and again DeLillo can throw out a sentence that seems almost electric; a prose version of a perpetual motion machine),
Sentimental Surrealist
The book that made me understand just what's so disconcerting about DeLillo. See, the guy writes weird shit, but a lot of writers write weird shit that don't give me the same prickly feeling the best DeLillo does. No, what makes DeLillo such an odd writer is the combination of the weird shit he writes about and his chilly, almost journalistic tone, and this novel combines the both of them to the fullest effect out of what I've read so far. This particular volume ties reclusive rock stars, drugs, ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Set in the early seventies, a famous rock star abdicates and retreats to the dereliction and sanctuary of the titular Great Jones Street,NY..The themes and ideas are interesting,fame,privacy,freedom,the media etc.The characterisation is poor and the plot descends into the absurd.However the descriptive writing particularly in the opening chapters is excellent.I had higher expectations from a major writer.Two stars,maybe two and a half.
Nate D
Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Past or present LES residents and disillusioned rock stars.
Shelves: read-in-2008
A quietly unnerving downward spiral.

In his ongoing survey of modern America, DeLillo's third book saw him looking at art and commerce through the lens of rock music and celebrity. One gets the sense that the narrator, rock star Bucky Wonderlick, having fled the stage mid-tour and retracted into a cold, empty apartment in a Lower East Side that was still both of those things (compared to its scrubbed, crowded modern counterpart), is somewhat paralyzed by his need to fully consider and understand
Lee Klein
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
". . . permanent withdrawal to that unimprinted level where all sound is silken and nothing erodes in the mad weather of language." Presages Cobain, or more so Yorke's "how to disappear completely". Fantastic sentences. Chicks don't dig it because it's ultra a-emotional, but dudes dig it for the cool response in the face of very good reasons for paranoia re: the system. Worth it if you've read Underworld and Libra, but probably not so hot if you haven't and therefore don't recognize nascent expr ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-bought
This is my second Don DeLillo novel. The first one I read and liked a lot is "Libra." DeLillo had the right tone to the whole Lee Oswald story - and more likely the truth. There is something very journalistic about the writing of that book - almost a documentary. I almost feel the same way with "Great Jones Street." He captures a certain aspect of New York that I find truthful - and the narrative of a legendary rock figure who decided to disappear in the middle of a major tour is interesting. Li ...more
First person narrator opens with “fame requires every kind of excess” (1), in his role of “imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic” (id). This is apparently an “Extreme region, monstrous [!] and vulval [!!]” (id.). He takes it upon himself, however, to return “the idea of privacy to American life” (17), a way to “pursue loneliness” (19). His intentional withdrawal from the public is held out by one silly communard group as exemplifying “the old idea [NB] of men alone with the la ...more
Perry Whitford
The superbly named Bucky Wunderlick is a rock star turned recluse, walking out on his band at the height of their fame, holing up and tuning out in a dilapidated flat on Great Jones Street, New York.

Wild rumours of his whereabouts soon start to circulate as Bucky seeks retreat behind his own myth: 'I became a half-saint, practiced in visions, informed by a sense of bodily economy, but deficient in true pain.'

Bucky is a hybrid of Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop - he even has a legendary set of low-fi rec
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me begin by saying that the first chapter of this book is a 5-star chapter. No doubt about it. And the first sentence...yeah, that's a 5-star sentence.

"Fame requires every kind of excess."

What a perfect way to begin a first-person novel about an aging rockstar/one-man-zeitgeist. And one amazing feat of this chapter--and the book as a whole really--is that, despite how few details he reveals, we believe that our narrator, Bucky Wonderlick, has bathed in the putrid, holy waters of this exces
Lucas Dispoto
I think Delilo's writing is beautiful, but I have to say I've disliked his books more often than not. "Great Jones Street" felt pretentious in its ramblings, its attempts to be a commentary on celebrity worship and drugs and love etc. It's perhaps because I'm reading Delilo with the wrong attitude or the wrong expectations. "Libra" was a fairly straightforward story, grounded in realism and history, yet by shaping the real world and real characters with his prose, Delilo managed a wonderful nove ...more
DeLillo paints a dour picture of our rock star Anti Hero, Bucky Wonderlick. He is sensitive, but also needy. Needy of the attention he is destined, in his mind, to receive as a rock star. The plot was ok, but the resolution didn't feel quite right. I would have loved more details about Bucky's music and career, but that was not in the cards. Plus, Bucky Wonderlick is a stupid name, lol.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
It feels like DeLillo writes his novels especially--maybe even ONLY--for me.

I was floored by this book.

No idea how anybody else will feel about it.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am of the very-late-Gen-X cohort, born in 1979. Sometimes I like to think of myself as part of the Kurt Cobain "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" generation, but naturally the world always has been and always will be teeming with young people who hate themselves and want to die. In high school I was primarily into poetry, literary fiction, cinema, and indie rock. There was no internet to speak of. You encountered things because they were available, written-up in magazines, or you had followed som ...more
Byron  'Giggsy' Paul
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of post-modern fiction and DeLillo
briefly, I found this to have interesting post-modern dialogue, typical of both the post-modern genre and of my other DeLillo reads.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Not only is this book a remnant of the past, it is a remenant that is achingly birthing itself and has been, in the pop culture since 2000, finding new the voice of nihilism and "the void" to the youth culture.

Back when Great Jones Street lacked an ATM and Country Blue Grass Blues wasn't a clothing store, there lived a race of children that repopulated a Manhattan that had become, frankly, Escape from New York. But there was some beauty in it.

There must be, or why would Jennifer Clement's book "
Jacob Hurley
tragically, nobel-worthy
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
Book three on my list of nine Delillo books I'm reading this year. This is the first one I came to with some trepidation. It's hard to imagine a good outcome when an author is writing a book about rock music culture but claims to listen to "mostly jazz and classical." An outsider's perspective can be good, but it's not hard to imagine an endeavor like this falling into perfunctory dismissal.

Of course, we're talking 1972 here. This isn't "Good Golly Miss Molly" anymore. It's not even "All You Ne
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
“ It would mean that you've been the victim of the paranoid man's ultimate fear. Everything that is taking place is taking place solely to mislead you. Your reality is managed by others.”
Parrish Lantern

“Fame requires every kind of excess”

“I mean true fame, not the sombre renown of weary statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the very edge of the void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic………….

( is it clear I was a hero of Rock ‘n’ Roll)

So starts Don Delillo’s 3rd novel, Great Jones Street. The hero, Bucky Wunderlick, has left the group high & dry, by dropping out of a national tour at the heigh
Aaron Bellamy
Great Jones Street reads like it could have been written yesterday, and in many ways, that fact saves it from being just an okay book. Rather than feeling prophetic, it feels as though DeLillo has captured the absurdities of celebrity culture, rock culture, and paranoid drug culture so perfectly, that now, more than forty years later, it still doesn’t need any updating. And how can you react to something so depressingly unchanged as that but to laugh.

The plot isn’t really super relevant. There’s
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had I known of Don DeLillo in the 70s, he might have found a place (however imperfectly) in my teenage countercultural canon alongside Tom Robbins, Donald Barthelme and Thomas Pynchon - particularly the latter, as the main plot element here is a mysterious parcel containing what is thought to be a recreational superdrug, that gets stolen from a government lab and carried around the world pursued by multiple crime syndicates, some of which double as record labels, back to the land communes etc.

Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this novel about 20 years ago. I re-read it this week out of curiosity about what it might have meant to me back then. I remembered little of it, except that the protagonist, AWOL rock n roll god Bucky Wunderlick, lived a hermetic life in an inner city apartment; I was living a comparably quiet life at the time, in my first solo apartment after years of rooming in shared houses.

Re-reading the book, I was surprised by the impact of the first page, whose language and imagery were so
Jul 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NYC natives, fans of experimental fiction, surreality, an explorations of nihlism.
This one really deserves 3 1/2 stars and I'm also grading it somewhat relatively to Don DeLillo's other novels and it does pale a bit in comparison. The main premise of this is that a big rock star lead singer gets bogged down within the realm of the mass consciousness and retreats unexpectantly and suddenly to the realm of the private. However, instead of his mountain hideout, he actually goes to an apt. in NYC. Some of this is my speculation but I think DeLillo was making some pretty accurate ...more
Andy Weston
I think I’ve picked the wrong Delillo to start with. From reading about him (after completing this book) I see that this is one of his earlier and more experimental novels, and whilst at times interesting this is dated, concerning a 70s rockstar who retreats into a self-imposed existential seclusion. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style either; it’s something opposite to the short sharp sentences that are prosaic in the pens of many of my favourite authors, and more verbose, flabby, even waffling ...more
Jeffrey Paris [was Infinite Tasks]
Nearly any paragraph of this beautiful work is more compelling than shelves of reading I have done. Delillo sparkles, challenges, satisfies.

I wish I had known how closely the structure of Great Jones Street mirrors (or sets the stage for) Cosmopolis, when I read and re-read the latter over the past decade: the carefully chosen quarters for the bulk of the "action"; the on-site visits from various constituencies and their analytical presentations; the awful spiral toward silence, privacy, inward
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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
“Be willing to die for your beliefs, or computer printouts of your beliefs.” 14 likes
“Everybody knows the thing about an infinite number of monkeys," Fenig said. "An infinite number of monkeys is put to work at an infinite number of typewriters and eventually one of them reproduces a great work of literature. In what language I don't know. But what about an infinite number of writers in an infinite number of cages? Would they make on monkey sound? One genuine chimp noise? Would they eventually swing by their toes from an infinite number of monkey bars? Would they shit monkey shit? It's academic, you say. You may be right.” 13 likes
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