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The Silence

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From one of the most dazzling and essential voices in American fiction, a timely and compelling novel set in the near future about five people gathered together in a Manhattan apartment, in the midst of a catastrophic event.

Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of Covid-19. The Silence is the story of a different catastrophic event. Its resonances offer a mysterious solace.

It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity.

Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.

What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human. Never has the art of fiction been such an immediate guide to our navigation of a bewildering world. Never have DeLillo's prescience, imagination, and language been more illuminating and essential.

117 pages, Paperback

First published October 20, 2020

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About the author

Don DeLillo

88 books5,619 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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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
849 reviews5,811 followers
November 27, 2021
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Don DeLillo has a special ability to find the pulse of modern anxieties in the moment and use it like a metronym to which his stories find their rhythm. The Silence is a odd but intriguing novella that manages to perfectly encapsulate our growing existential anxieties in a data-driven society where just sheer recall of ‘a missing fact emerges without digital assistance’ is a rare satisfaction. Much will be made of the fact that he completed this novella just before the Covid-19 lockdowns and that it tells the story of a mysterious disruption of normal lives that leaves city streets empty and silent while everyone huddles in their homes. The ‘intimate calm tinged with hysteria’ that makes for an anxiety-ridden tone becomes a brilliant playing field for an examination of language and the way we perceive each other and the reality around us through it. The Silence feels like a culmination of all of DeLillo’s best themes, as if the residue of meaning from his previous works were compressed into this tiny package to produce a glimmering pearl. While still a minor work, DeLillo delivers a successful cavalcade of big ideas in this chilling techo-apocalypse of a novella that examines the ways in which we relate to the world and one another through language and asks us what would happen if our world were suddenly plunged into digital silence.

Is this the casual embrace that marks the fall of world civilization?

The Silence seems to synthesize many of DeLillo’s works, but most prominently ideas from White Noise and my personal favorite The Body Artist. Like the latter, the opening ‘chapter’ could function as a stand-alone short story. Here we find Tessa and her husband, Jim, aboard a plane as Tessa tries to wrangle their vacation into language into her notebook and Jim recites the data readouts on the flight monitor as a method of self-soothing. Something I’ve always respected most about DeLillo is that you can understand what he is getting at without ever really being able to pinpoint it and this novel is no exception with the way it is the culmination of disparate thoughts on language. We have Tessa representing the idea that we can only perceive the world through language, hence her insistence on getting it all down as a method towards ‘looking at notes years from now and seeing the precision, the detail’, while Jim’s repetition of data is akin to our scrolling habits and finding himself in a specific place and time through them.

Meanwhile, Max and his wife Denise sit with Denise’s former student Martin to watch the 2022 Super Bowl, awaiting Jim and Tessa to return from their trip and join them. They discuss a telescope in Chile and Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity until suddenly the tv signal gives out. All of technology gives out. This is, essentially, the extent of a plot --as well as Jim and Tessa surviving a crash landing due to these same issues--and the real narrative is the methods in which these characters rationalize and cope with their new circumstances. The Silence feels much like a confined play with characters as ‘people in the grip of a serious threat’ where dialogue plays out like an internet search query with one character egging another on saying ‘what else’ while they dump the contents of their minds out in half sentences and witty theories. The dialogue does not read as authentic conversation--almost irritatingly--but to the effect of something like a post-singularity world where the characters spew out data and facts in lieu of conversation. Our connection to the world and understanding of it, DeLillo posits, is through the way we encapsulate it with language and in our ever growing dependency and symbiosis with technology, we have reshaped the way we perceive the world.

Somewhere within all those syllables, something secret, covert, intimate.

The world is everything, the individual nothing,’ remarks Martin, a call-out to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s infamous line ‘the world is everything that is the case.’ This statement at the start of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus sets up the logic that everything is composed of the facts that will follow. What we observe is primarily the way the world is made up of language, which also defines our roles and proximity to life. Characters expound on ‘the language of World War III,’ or the coding of communication between drones: ‘their weapon being a form of language isolate. A language known only to drones.’ Without language we cannot process what happens to us, and language grows and adapts in order to better rationalize and understand it. ‘[T]he war rolls on and the terms accumulate,’ DeLillo writes. Coming back to Martin’s point, it is even through language that we perceive not only each other but ourselves, and it is through the interplay between the self and others and the world around us that we are able to glimpse and rationalize the self.
Was each a mystery to the others, however close their involvement, each individual naturally encased that he or she escaped a final determination, a fixed appraisal by the others in the room?

Another major theme is that language is fallible, constructed and controlled and that we can never truly reach the essence of a Self through it. ‘Everyone I’ve seen today has a story,’ the hospital workers says to Tessa and Jim, ‘You two are the plane crash. Others are the abandoned subway, the stalled elevators, then the empty office buildings, the barricaded storefronts.’ Our sense of personhood is dependent on our ‘story’, our actions that can be codified into a narrative sense in order to express who we are and what we have been through/experienced/etc. We are our roles in society and the fact that we are individuals is just an element of the way society is made up of the collective narratives of individuals.

Are we an experiment that happens to be falling apart?

Martin is taking a medication where a side-effect is that he questions his sense of self and even looking in a mirror cannot solidify a sense of being, he can only understand himself through his interactions with others. In our modern world, much of our interactions play out digitally. Here is where DeLillo really grasps the modern existential angst and bursts it open into full horror: if we exist as a sense of self in a digital spectrum, what happens when the digital world ends. ‘It’s us, barely’ Jim says when they enter Denise and Max’s apartment, a casual indication that their sense of self has diminished without the technological world in which we all currently exist within. DeLillo draws a parallel to the downward spiral of humanity with the way we are all always looking into our phones, ‘everything down down down
But didn’t this have to happen? Isn’t that what some of us are thinking? We were headed in this direction. No more wonder, no more curiosity, Totally impaired orientation. Too much of everything from too narrow a source code.

Martin calls out the culprit at large: Capitalism. His definition of capitalism is sexually satisfying to Denise, as if he has unearthed some great truth for which she can rationalize her own existence as worthwhile for having been his teacher. Through capitalism we have enforced an economic value to every relationship with reality, thus making marketing the predominant language of our civilization. This is best expressed in White Noise-like absurdity when Max begins to recite the language of football as well as the commercial breaks in a near-hypnotic state while he stares at the blank television. He speaks in ‘half sentences, bare words, repetitions...a kind of plainsong, monophonic, ritualistic’ that probes at the way our cultural signifiers have become encoded in their own established set of language and terminology.
[A]ll these decades of indigenous discourse muddied up by the nature of the game,

The game itself matters to Max because he is betting on it, and his expertise as an observer of football has taken on a capitalistic role by relegating his knowledge of the sport into a profitable enterprise. Through this commodification of language, self, and entertainment, people have become ‘the human slivers of civilization’ that values more our profitable interactions within it than our individual selves while simultaneously allowing us to insert an individuality as a method of upholding the system.

'What happens to people who live inside their phones.'

People have to keep telling themselves that they’re still alive,’ Martin says. Without the digital and social network granted to us by technology, and acknowledging that we can only assert a sense of self through language, it becomes imperative that in a crisis situation we reframe our language in a way that can still assert our existence. Everything, it would seem, is relative to each other and our sense of reality becomes relative to those around us. He later adds ‘all my life I’ve been waiting for this without knowing it.’ There is a strong sense that some people have the ability to survive this crisis--those who already have a loose meaning of self and are adaptable to it--while others are too rigidly dependent on the established social norms of interaction and will crumble under the weight of this crisis. Max observes riots in the street as people begin to realize their dilemma and react to it in basic primal instincts, though they quickly disperse assumingly due to the lack of normal language sharing that would prop up and solidify their actions through digital crowdsourcing. Think of the way we value “likes” on social media as a deterministic ruler for our own thoughts and actions. Without it, we would have to find a different mirror for our sense of self. DeLillo argues that those who can adapt, or have an ability to function without technological assistance, are better equipped for survival from this incident.

Lost systems in the crux of everyday life.

Having written this right before the pandemic lockdowns seems rather prophetic, especially as the news cycle is dominated by the trauma outlashings of those dependent on reverting to a lost normalcy. The reopen the economy movement--at least here in Michigan--was driven by those who wanted to return to business as normal without any containment initiatives much like sticking one’s head in the sand instead of adapting to the changes and finding alternative and progressive ways to conduct a life. DeLillo has always had an acute sense of the modern condition and this novella--let’s be real, it’s a short story turned into a novella through the large font and excessive line spacing---is oddly sagacious of what has befallen us this year. Particularly the ways we went about the lockdown. Without technology and the normal world at large, the residents of the aparment complex find themselves 'becoming neighbors for the first time.' There is something oddly hopeful here, and a nudge towards a more humane communal future without the crutch of social media.

Though a minor work, DeLillo hits a lot of high notes with The Silene, particularly in his examinations of reality as dependent on language. On its own merits, this is a success that begs for more intellectual mulling than the time it takes to read the actual book. Highlighting our dependency on social technology and the way it has reformed society, especially in capitalistic ways, DeLillo paints a chilling scenario where we must adapt to the absence of normality. We can theorize and postulate all we want, but the reality is that we must adapt and hold on to our sense of self in an uncertain mirror lest we fall into despair. In a world observed through language, our sense of reality is relative to the language we are able to net our experiences in. Language, however, is faulty and, as Wittgenstein says ‘what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.’ It is fitting, then, that when all theorizing has exhausted itself and the characters must finally embrace their new conditions, everything falls into silence.


The current situation tells us that there’s nothing else to say except what comes into our heads, which none of us will remember anyway.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,284 reviews2,205 followers
November 13, 2020
Don DeLillo is still giving his readers something to think about in this short, yet powerful book. It’s ominous; even the cover is somewhat haunting - black background except for a slender cell phone and the print. It’s centered around what happens on a day in the future, on Super Bowl Sunday in 2022-pretty scary since this is a not too distant future date. It certainly made me think as a total black out occurs, as I read the book in digital format on my kindle, updated my reading status on Goodreads on my iPhone, and wrote and posted this review using my iPad while watching TV, talking and texting in between.

A plane crash, a couple returning from a vacation in Paris, before that talking about heading to a friend’s apartment in NYC to watch the Super Bowl when they land. The friends, a couple, the hosts of this small Super Bowl get together, wait with the wife’s friend and former student getting ready for the game to start, but the TV goes blank, the phones and computers aren’t working, everything is out. They don’t know what has happened or why or what will happen in the days ahead, and neither do we . The questions are obvious. What if technology dies and doesn’t return? How will we connect except face to face and will we remember how to do that? We see each of these characters in the immediate time after and maybe there are some clues . The impact of technology on who we are, how we live, do we see each other, hear each other - DeLillo as I said at the beginning gives us much to think about. I can’t say that I felt emotionally connected to any of these character, but I felt as if I was there and that this could happen. DeLillo will have me thinking for a long after I’ve finished this book.

I received a copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,042 followers
November 2, 2020
"This was the year he rode the subway to the ends of the city, two hundred miles of track. He liked to stand at the front of the first car, hands flat against the glass. The train smashed through the dark. People stood on local platforms staring nowhere, a look they'd been practicing for years. His body fluttered in the fastest stretches. They went so fast sometimes he thought they were on the edge of no-control. The noise was pitched to a level of pain he absorbed as a personal test. Another crazy-ass curve. There was so much iron in the sound of those curves he could almost taste it, like a toy you put in your mouth when you are little."

On the tube we generally give ourselves up to banal thoughts or make of our mind a blank. The faint flutter of apprehension we might feel is kept locked away. But everything DeLillo describes in that passage - the "no control", the iron sound - is present in our body and at the back of our mind. It's one of things I love about him, how he strips away the protective glazes of daily life. That quote is actually the opening paragraph of Libra but The Silence too begins with a similar scenario - a married couple on a transatlantic flight wilfully refusing to pay attention to the disarming science and technology and risk of their experience of the moment.

The Silence takes place on Superbowl Sunday, 2022 when, without notice, the TV screen goes blank and the airplane's technology breaks down. In the blink of an eye power shuts down, a moment of angst we've all experienced in one form or another which is generally appeased when we're able to find an explanation. In DeLillo's book no explanation is forthcoming. Suddenly the normal, the habitual is out of bounds, a receding memory. It's like the beginning of a Hollywood movie - except DeLillo isn't interested in blockbuster platitudes - the intrepid resilience of the human spirit, the all-conquering power of love. He's interested in the metaphysical transition from our dependence on devices to finding ourselves suddenly in a stripped down primal world. The five characters are left to make sense of what is happening as if their minds, like the technological infrastructure, have been wiped clean of ordering data.

Of course, our over-dependence on technology, the screens all going blank as our worst nightmare, is not a novel idea but DeLillo has so much of interest to say about this scenario that the short book is compelling from start to finish. DeLillo is now 83 so I didn't have high expectations of this book. His magical wordsmithery has been missing from his work for a while. But The Silence was an exhilarating and disconcerting surprise. As we enter our second lockdown in the UK and it's looking ever more likely the world as we knew it might never return this is an incredibly prescient and topical read. And because he's 83 and has given me so much nourishment throughout his career I'm giving him all five stars, even though objectively it's probably more 4+.
Profile Image for George.
Author 16 books250 followers
September 1, 2020
The Silence begins with the following epigraph from Albert Einstein:

“I do not know with what weapons
World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought
with sticks and stones.”

Perhaps overused, even clichéd, it is all the more ominous for its inarguable truth. Though at the same time there is a micro-kernel of hope there, suggesting as it does that at least a couple of bands of tattered human beings will survive the third world war, the prelude to a kind of sine wave of human evolution as imagined in Olaf Stapledon’s mind-expanding Last and First Men. Looking at it another way, the re-brandishing of sticks and stones is the penultimate stage before the omega point in which “consciousness is exhausted. Back to inorganic matter. This is what we want. We want to be stones in a field,” from DeLillo’s Point Omega.

This new short story (novelette at best) is even more sparse than DeLillo’s post-Underworld work, starting with The Body Artist. (By the way, has anyone ever noticed the slim volumes that follow fat tomes? Other than The Body Artist, there’s the post-Infinite Jest collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and the post-Women and Men novella The Letter Left to Me. Can you name other instances?) The longest novel DeLillo has written since has been Zero K at about 275 pages, with lines that are recognizably that laurate of terror, such as “Everybody wants to own the end of the world” and “I’m someone who’s supposed to be me.”

In The Silence, DeLillo feels at his quietest, mostly whispering, perhaps appropriate when considering the title, as though the silence is sacred and words are something of a blaspheme amid the blankness. The sparsity evokes at times a play (like Valparaiso), and I could certainly see this story being performed on a shadowed stage, especially considering that the book ends with each figure giving a semi-non-sequitur soliloquy in a room that might as well be empty, less than solipsism (“He wasn’t listening to what he was saying because he knew it was stale air”). The most animated language comes from a character whose bible is a facsimile of Einstein’s relativity manuscript, and he becomes both a disciple of that bygone genius who’s an example of an actual prophet (predicting as he did solar light-bending) and his ventriloquist—a rain dance in hopes of a mana of knowledge, the smallest savor of scientific salvation, perchance? There’s also a reference to Finnegans Wake, a different kind of bible written in a post-Babel babble, maybe the only kind of book that should be written when “the word itself seems so outdated to me, lost in space.”

Continuing with the Einsteinian prediction of returning to an Australopithecus atmosfear, DeLillo demonstrates in more ways than one that we are in the infancy of our species, babies with atom bombs, and so it’s no mistake that the technological blackout this story is centered around occurs amid the anticipation of a football game. In Carl Sagan’s posthumous essay collection Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, there is a wonderful essay titled “Monday-Night Hunters”. It begins so:

“We can’t help ourselves. On Sunday afternoons and Monday nights in the fall of each year, we abandon everything to watch small moving images of 22 men—running into one another, falling down, picking themselves up, and kicking an elongated object made from the skin of an animal. Every now and then, both the players and the sedentary spectators are moved to rapture or despair by the progress of the play. All over America, people (almost exclusively men), transfixed before glass screens, cheer or mutter in unison.”

Sagan goes on to explain the symbolic comparison to real conflict but also to the strong genetics of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (or deathstyle), and more. The inexplicable cancellation of the game in The Silence is like baboon blue balls.

DeLillo asks the question, “What happens to people who live inside their phones?” In groggy confusion, in electric birth, people stand “in the hallway, becoming neighbors for the first time.” Although one person’s neighbor is another person’s enemy in the world of the tribal.

Besides, how many people know how a cellphone works, yet how many hours every day do we stare at its screen, giving in to “the nudge of dumb indulgence”? The same can be said of TV screens and all other black mirrors. After the shutdown, a character looks at her husband’s dead phone: “She hit buttons, shook the thing, stared into it, jabbed it with her thumbnail.” The same exploratory yet ultimately useless actions a tribesperson would enact when handed even a live phone, yet eventually a primate might discover that the stick is a tool with which to fish for termites or ants. What good is a phone in a pre- or post-technological wilderness?

As Sagan has warned elsewhere, we possess the greatest technology in the history of humankind yet the kind of humans who are using it are absolutely ignorant about the science involved, so when technology terminates for whatever reason (Local or global EMP? Solar flare? Alien invasion? Singularity? What does it matter?), we’ll know not of what to do other than to stare “into the blank screen,” the abyss that stares back with the darkened reflection of your gaping self, the rectangular death window, “our personal perceptions sinking into quantum dominance.” The gap will continue until we’re the lumps of lard on floating chairs like in the animated movie WALL-E, assuming our infantile instincts don’t destroy us first. Lard to lard, stones to stones.

[First impression: While something this short (it's a novelette at best) and sparse (even by later DeLillo standards) couldn't possibly be satisfying in and of itself, I'm grateful to be able to read more work from one of the masters of fiction. I do hope that this is not his last work because I want need more, particularly on the thicker side. A 3- or perhaps 4-star reading experience, morsel that it is, but I'm giving it 5 in a hopeless attempt to even out the aggregated rating skewed by ungrateful readers, particularly those who are not even familiar with DeLillo's oeuvre.]

P.S. Whoever made the cover for the American edition should be fired and whoever made the cover for the UK edition should be given a raise because the latter designer was at least vaguely familiar with DeLillo's style.
Profile Image for Danielle.
805 reviews401 followers
January 30, 2022
Note: I received a free copy of this book, in exchange here is my honest review.

This is a very short story. A glimpse of how people may react to loss of the world’s internet. 🤔 It’s an interesting idea. But this feels unfinished to me. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Thank you @goodreads and @simonandschuster #goodreadsgiveaway
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
260 reviews13.3k followers
March 1, 2021
E quindi? Molti spunti brillanti, come sempre ma un racconto che sa di incompletezza.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
June 11, 2022
The Fifth Most Overrated Thing in Life

Christopher Hitchens once wrote, "The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics."

To those, I will add Don DeLillo novellas.

So absolutely weird that it is unintentionally comical. The equivalent of bathroom stall musings and the scatological streams of consciousness pronounced by gnomic horndogs in barroom conversations with pretentious New England teases.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,000 reviews35.9k followers
October 26, 2020
“Life can get so interesting, that we forget to be afraid”

“Cyber attacks, digital intrusions,, biological aggressions, smallpox, terrorism, financial collapse, dead, disabled, starvation, plague, and what else?”

Is the air getting warmer, hour by hour, minute by minute?

Isn’t it strange that some people seem to have accepted the burnout?
Is this something that they’ve always longed for?

Nobody wants to call it World War III…but it’s what it is.
“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.

“DeLillo looks for the future as it manifests in the present moment: he has done this for decades in which other writers have struggled with, for example, the invention of the mobile phone (won’t it ruin the plot?) At 83 he makes many contemporary writers read as though they are thinking not even in the 20th but in the 19th century, one in which, ‘the crowd’
did not exist, except, perhaps, as proles”.
—Anne Enright from
‘The Guardian’

Spare but powerful, “The Silence”, set in 2020, in Manhattan, Super Bowl Sunday, the plague, has flattened —and air travel has resumed.
At the beginning, Jim and Tessa are on the plane. It’s their first vacation post covid-19. They are on planning to visit their friends house to watch football on TV together.
There’s a plane crash.

Back in Manhattan....
The game is between the Seahawks and Titans.
We meet Max, Diane, and Martin — all watching the football game on TV....drinking beer, whiskey, munching, hanging out. We get background details about each of the characters....
but ...
they are together - this Super Bowl Sunday ... social gathering - intellectual chatting - in the same way people have been doing for years.
Suddenly, the TV screen goes dead; the phones aren’t working.
None of the technology is working.
Max stares at the TV screen completely blank and imagines the football game - still playing.
Jim and Tessa - survive the plane crash and eventually show up at their friends house to watch the football game in Manhattan.
I won’t share more about how it comes together other than to say....
It’s certainly surprising that this book was written before any knowledge of our current days of the pandemic we are living.

Apocalyptic living...
Fires in California...
Hurricanes a threat..
Protest, riots, violence...
Unsettling divisions among Americans...
Don DeLillo’s “Silence”
is not only a cautionary tale...
It’s a novel that ( invited me anyway).... to think about the power of silence ( the non-verbal language), as accepting what is ( now) ...
Silence can soften harshness and communicate empathy.

Treasured gifts come in small packages...
“Silence”, at only 117 pages, is that ( small-size-gem)....gift.

Much to contemplate. A book that will keep you thinking for hours after finishing.

5 stars for this 117 page power-house-enjoyment.


Profile Image for Meike.
1,508 reviews2,440 followers
October 22, 2020
This novella - written pre-Corona - deals with, yes, a shutdown, in this case a shutdown of technology. It's Super Bowl Tuesday 2022, the grid goes down and millions of viewers are suddenly staring into a black void. As the screens go dark, the five protagonists of DeLillo's text have to look at the world that surrounds them, and they see a reality that seems distorted when the mediating technology has vanished. Jim and his poet wife Tessa survive a crash landing and manage to get to their friends Max and Diane, where they wanted to watch the game with a former student of Diane's, Martin (who seems to be autistic and is obsessed with 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity). The characters start talking to each other and to themselves, trying to cope with the situation - and while they are grappling with what is happening, it turns out they have trouble connecting to others and their inner selves when all distraction is gone.

This short text feels like a chamber play, and in its strangeness it's weirdly reminiscent of The God of Carnage. I've pondered for quite some time why this text had so little impact on me, and maybe part of it is that by now, it feels like anything might happen this year, and the exhaustion is already so great that we could only manage to shrug our shoulders and be like "oh, a zombie apocalypse as well? Sure, why not." But then again, I feel like our dependence on technology is such a big topic that it would take more innovative insights to capture audiences than DeLillo offers here. The formal aspect is very well done and presented in a challenging, artistic manner, but I would have wished for more surprising (mental) twists and turns.

By all means, it's not a bad novella, but it did not exactly take my breath away. You can learn more about the text in our podcast episode (in German).
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews609 followers
April 9, 2021
"The more advanced, the more vulnerable. Our systems of surveillance, our facial recognition devices, our imagery resolution. How do we know who we are?"

Welcome back to another edition of Tim has an unpopular opinion! What book did Tim hate that others like this time?

Wait, what? He liked a book most people dislike instead?

So, confession time. I've never read any of DeLillo's books. He's one of those authors that I've heard of enough (I majored in English back in my college days), but I never was assigned him and never really sought him out. As I was walking though a used book store two days ago, I stumbled upon this one. Given that it's still a pretty new release (still only in hardcover), it was surprisingly cheap and looked as if it had never been read. I decided to give it a shot. I didn't have to spend much and it was short enough to read in one or two sittings.

I finished this in one with a huge smile on my face. I pulled up Goodreads expecting to see glowing reviews for it… only to see that it averaged under three stars. I was a little surprised to say the least.

Now, let me say right off that I respect the opinions of the people who didn't like it. I totally get it, and honestly they bring up some really good points.

I just happened to like a lot of what they would say was negative.

I liked that the dialogue felt off… it felt like they were never properly communicating despite saying a lot of words. While the book may present itself as a science fiction or horror story about what would happen if technology just stopped, that is not what the book is about. It seemed to be about lack of communication.

What DeLillo seems to be playing with is language. How dependent has our language become on the digital world? How much do we fail to experience the world and instead focus on our phones? In a wonderful scene one character in a plane spends his time reading out the information on the screen in front of him - altitude, temperature, distance to destination, time to destination, time at point of departure... This digital trivia presented on a small screen contextualizes his journey and his life. Does he see the other passengers or even bother to look out a window?

The book is told mostly with dialogue, adding even more irony to the fact that no one ever really communicates. Hell, sections of the book are long monologues, drawn out words saying nothing in great quantities that no one listens to.

"The end-of-the-world movie. People stranded in a room. But we're not stranded. We can leave anytime. I try to imagine the vast sense of confusion out there. My husband does not want to describe what he has seen but I am guessing bedlam in the streets and why am I so reluctant to get up and walk to the window and simply look?"

The characters can't see the outside world on their tablets, their phones, their TV screens, so they process what must be going on through their knowledge of things they've seen on them, rather than even look outside to see if there is chaos or not.

Humorously, I too am reminded of a movie. The Exterminating Angel directed by Luis Buñuel; an absurdist film in which a bunch of bourgeoisie party goers find they cannot leave a dinner party despite the fact that nothing seems to be holding them in. They walk towards an exit and just sit back down… the book is much the same. Is there an apocalypse? Possibly, but these characters won't even look. They talk, but none listen.

The entire thing may as well just be a long awkward silence.

4/5 stars.
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,032 reviews48.4k followers
October 13, 2020
The kindest response to Don DeLillo’s new novel, “The Silence,” may be suggested by its title. But this is the author of such modern classics as “White Noise,” “Libra” and “Underworld,” so attention must be paid.

“The Silence” is one of DeLillo’s short, curious novels, possibly the shortest and the curiousest. Harper’s recently published an excerpt, which may have tempted you to hope that something more substantial lies in the book itself. It does not.

The story takes place in 2022. In the opening pages, Jim and his wife, Tessa, are flying home to New York from a vacation in Paris. Hours of sitting have made them both tedious. “In the air,” DeLillo writes, “much of what the couple said to each other seemed to be a function of some automated process, remarks generated by the nature of airline travel itself.” Jim rambles; his wife humors him. They are “filling time. Being boring” — re-created here with distressing verisimilitude. . . .

To read the rest of this novel, go to The Washington Post:
Profile Image for Pietrino.
160 reviews208 followers
February 14, 2021
Stephen King una volta disse che la gente si comprerebbe pure la sua lista della spesa, e non c'è dubbio che lo farebbe.
Non me ne vogliate, ma questa mi è sembrata tanto la lista della spesa di DeLillo.
Di MediaWord, ma comunque una lista della spesa.

Peace Off
Profile Image for Henk.
846 reviews
November 8, 2020
Impressionistic and detached, with some nice sentences and scenes, but an unclear purpose and ending to it
Life can get so interesting that we forget to be afraid

Dependence on technology seems to be the main theme of The Silence. The book (I feel novel is a to generous term, the lettertype is quite big and it is only slightly above 100 pages) follows 5 people on the brink of the Superbowl 2022. A business class plane journey ends with a crash, and the screens of a couple who wait on the start of the game stay blank. The last couple are joined in their rather drab party by Martin, an obsessed former student who tries to couple the predicament with Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity. The whole Superbowl part reminded me of the trauma I had as a teenager struggling through the first chapter of Underworld).

All in all the novella feels like an understated start of the first Cloverfield movie. Or like the prelude to The Stand of Stephen King, without giving any clarity or resolution.
The wording is lush, the eye of Don DeLillo for marital troubles is razorsharp: Thirty-seven years Diane said. Not unhappily but in states of dire routine, two people so clutched together that the day is coming when each of us will forget the other’s name.

Also we are presented with some musings on the ending of the world, which sound both important but also quite familiar and maybe on the brink of platitudes, like: War is something else, happening somewhere else. & The more advanced, the more vulnerable.

There are a few sentences on the environment and global warming.
Some speculation on the Chinese or an alien nature of the blackout in internet, maybe somehow responding to a new telescope in Chile.
Or is it a glitch in the Matrix? An undefined quantum thing?
Stranger than the circumstances are how are these people friends, or even partners, when they even in real life just seem to be talking in their own, non-virtual echo chambers instead of with each other. A bit of existential dread (they all seem very calm in the face of the "internet apocalypse") any of the “characters” might have made this book less flat and feel more alive.

In the end I feel The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster is a much better and equally short meditation on the dependency from technology.
This book could be called an interesting concept struggling with its execution, quite like DeLillo makes his character muse the following:
She wanted to be where she was going without the intermediate episode.
She thought of him as a mind trying to escape its commitment to the long slack body with flapping hands that seemed barely attached to his arms.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,685 followers
December 18, 2020
"Ere the sockson locked at the dure."
- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"We were headed in this direction. No more wonder, no more curiosity. Totally impaired orientation. Too much of everything from too narrow a source code."
- Don DeLillo, The Silence


My father-in-law, 28 years ago, was the director of Information Warfare and Special Technical Operations Center (STOC), a part of the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. I remember, being a college student dating his daughter, talking to him about his work there. He was the first to introduce me to the idea that we are always electronically at war. Our information grid, our electrical grids, our servers, our systems are constantly being "attacked". It was a brave new world that only has gotten braver the last two-three decades I'd imagine.

DeLillo imagines the aftermath of an attack in 2022 (or is it a solar flare or aliens?) that disables our grids; downs everything. Leaving us in the dark. No Google. No phones. No Super bowl. Delillo isn't interested in the later part of this narrative. He isn't writing a Stephen King novel or a dystopian SF novel. He is really only after the texture of what we would THINK, what we would SAY right as it happened or shortly after. I guess we have one month left in 2020, so shit.

The other day COX CABLE was down for two hours. We had no internet service (for our phone or computers). TV was limited since it is all through TV. Our social lives were limited because so much of our "lives" happens through the internet. So much of who we are exists either in a reflection through these social media source or through these connections. What happens when that vanishes suddenly? For everyone? Where are we? Where do we go when the world goes silent? What happens when the noise we thought was in our head goes silent and we are alone listening to the void?

Update: I also LOVED the typewriter font the book was printed in, so there is also that. One really nice detail. Also, don't pay too much attention to the stars. This might be a 4-star DeLillo. It has haunted me a bit since reading it yesterday, but perhaps that is just the clouds of 2020 or the anticipation of what December will bring.

Update: One of the things that keeps me coming back to Don DeLillo (just finished my last DeLillo novel, excluding Amazons, the other day is his MOOD. It is hard to describe, but I read a couple paragraphs of DeLillo and you know I'm reading him. Imagine you are on the edge of a black hole and falling into it. Your body elongates. Stretches. Before you disappear into the void as your left arm gets pulled inside, you start to pluck that arm. The sound your naked arm makes, as you slip into infinity, THAT is the mood of Don DeLillo.
Profile Image for Emily B.
426 reviews419 followers
July 25, 2021
This was my first Don DeLillo read and despite all the low rating reviews, I think it was a good place to start. I liked the style of writing and hope to read more of his work (specially as I have another book of his sitting on my shelf!)
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews146 followers
December 17, 2021
Y'ever been talking to someone and midway through you realize they're on their phone, staring vacantly at their screen instead of listening? And so you cut yourself off and wait for them to notice and it takes a little while but they do and they do that little headshake thing and give you a lilting "Hmmmm?" or a maybe a "Sorry, what?" if you're lucky enough to get any full-fledged words at all? And isn't that just so incredibly rude and infuriating? But what're you gonna do about it, right? If you're like me, just some poor schlub of a regular citizen, you grit your teeth, maybe give an exasperated sigh, but ultimately you let it slide. But if you're famed author and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Don Delillo you could write a scathing novella about it instead. Which seems to be the impetus for this "What Hath Technology Wrought?" not-quite-but-almost-screed. Yes, we're all too dependent on our phones. Yes, we're all growing somehow more distant despite our ever-increasing capacity for interconnection. Yes, it's unsettling to think about the downsides we're beginning to see and those we haven't yet come to know. But who among us wants to be the first to unplug?

3 stars. Some truly great writing at points, but not as substantive a commentary as perhaps we all need.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,051 reviews525 followers
January 11, 2021
The world is everything, the individual nothing. Do we all understand that?

Barely the length of a decent novella, DeLillo’s latest seems to continue his literary experiment in developing a ‘voice’ that mimics JG Ballard’s famous ‘death of affect’. This translates into a stripped-down and deliberately muted style that equally flattens character and exposition. Pity the poor reader, for the end result seems crushingly dull, frustratingly opaque and alarmingly pretentious, all at the same time. None of DeLillo’s insights into the social impact of (and social compact with) technology and communications seem particularly inspired either. This is a peculiar curiosity then that is bound to alienate new and long-time readers alike.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,743 reviews123 followers
October 31, 2020
"Nobody wants to call it World War III, but this is what it is." -- Martin, on page 79

Unremarkable novella, set in early 2022, that focuses on five connected people - one married couple returning home to New York City via a flight from Paris, and another married couple plus a weirdo graduate student 'friend' watching the annual Super Bowl in their Manhattan apartment - who are suddenly faced with an unexplained digital collapse or crash that renders all standard technology inoperable. (Maybe not the most original sci-fi plot, but it's still timely given our virtual dependence on certain electronic items.) When it was good it reminded me of a tale by master storyteller Richard Matheson, or perhaps an episode of The Twilight Zone. However, after some initial developments - the disaster apparently makes one of the couples all hot and bothered (?!) on two occasions - the story hits lukewarm and just sort of disappointingly stays there, without big dramatic moments.
Profile Image for Dax.
240 reviews109 followers
October 28, 2020
Had a couple of hours to myself tonight. Decided to sit down with my old friend Don. Poured a glass of bourbon to accompany. A good drink really does go hand in hand with his writing.

Anyway, the book. The book is good. Delillo has a lot to say in very few words. Nobody writes like him and his familiar prose is here to please yet again. The surreal atmosphere is back too. The handful of characters are all walking the balance beam between despair and acceptance. Process first, react later.

The ideas feel half fleshed here though. Calling this a novel is generous. 117 pages with plenty of white space. Pretty typecast though. The plot had a lot of running room, but I guess Delillo felt his point had been made. Dependence on devices, an inability to function once we become unplugged. Sophistication leads to susceptibility as a society. Let's hope Delillo's track record with premonition has run its course.

Three strong stars. Delillo newbies beware.
Profile Image for Lee Klein .
799 reviews852 followers
October 21, 2020
There's no All Quiet on the Western Front of the 1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic, right? And I doubt the current situation will yield more than evocative slivers like this, or Intimations, suggestive shards reflective of surely temporarily shattered "normalcy." The first thing about this, most likely DeLillo's last but who knows, is the font: maybe Courier New? It suggests the typewriter, the time before serifs became primarily sans curlicues and feet. Em dashes look like en dashes, without spaces on either sides. Double Fs raise the second F a bit. There's an atavistic typographical suggestion that syncs with the story but also makes you more conscious of how the language looks to the writer, as though we see the page through Don DeLillo's eyes, which as ever are on the same exact prize expressed in the same clipped, attentive, honed phrases, fragments sometimes, strung out toward the end of sentences, connected by commas. Technology goes kaput at once on Super Bowl Sunday during the goddamn game. It opens on a flight from Paris to NYC (Newark really) on game day -- and it occurs to me I flew from London to LaGuardia on Super Bowl Sunday and learned from a cabbie that the Ravens beat the Giants (Feb 2001). Which doesn't matter at all, except I was on a plane on Super Sunday once, and we all can imagine any plane we've been on crash landing. Planes, football, the sudden unexpected event leading to an unspecified crisis, intelligent anonymous white people differentiated by names and maybe the length of their hands speaking in identical sentence fragments that achieve a sort of poetry, this time with a non-white woman too, a poet, a writer, tons of personal journals, reminding me of the writer woman who writes blank novels in Ratner's Star. Reminiscent of Players at times, the prominence of the TV, White Noise (obvs), End Zone (obvs), Cosmopolis (teeming city). But oh so spare, open (thanks to the font and dialogue and lack of characterization or history), a bit bawdy, some humor. Counting down by sevens is the serial seven test for dementia, suggestive of counting the score of an NFL game in reverse, retreating, progressing in the opposite direction, not that we'll remember any of this in the end anyway, sort of like the 1919 pandemic. Ultimately, a spare summation of DeLillo's work but it doesn't feel like it suffices, not that it should really -- "the current situation" (a worthy alt title) doesn't really call for much more than silence since we all know more than well enough what it's like.
Profile Image for OutlawPoet.
1,202 reviews69 followers
October 13, 2020
So, this says that the book was completed just before the advent of COVID-19. There’s an actual reference to COVID-19 in the book, which I assume was added later?

This is a challenging book. I think at some point, someone’s going to take issues with some of the reviews here, telling us that we just don’t get it. I don’t think that’s true. I think we get it…we just don’t love it?

It’s not really a story. It’s a philosophical musing on humanity, technology, the environment, and what humans find important in the world. Using an apocalyptic event (basically sort of an EMP that takes down all tech), our characters find themselves lost. Unfortunately, they attack that sense of displacement in the world they know with meaningful looks, pithy conversations, meaningful utterings of things like “Cryptocurrency,” “Crypto…currency,” (with more meaningful looks), and full on monologues about the state of the world.

For such a short book, it’s exhausting.

Taking the hit-you-over-the-head messaging way from the thin not-very -important story, I kept saying to myself, “God, please don’t let any apocalypse leave us stranded with these precious, pedantic people.”

I’m sure that there will be people who gain some insight from this – people who will read this, nodding sagely, and feeling superior to those who don’t like it.

But I don’t like it.

*ARC Provided via Net Galley

10/13/20 edit: I just read an article stating that the COVID reference in the book was added, without permission, by an editor to make the book 'relevant '. DeLillo made them remove it, so if you're reading a final copy, you won't see it. Publishing the book as the author intended makes the book far more prescient. I still didn't like it, but will admit that the editor's add of that reference caused me to have some doubt when it came to DeLillo's authenticity specific to this being written pre-COVID. I'm glad he stood his ground.
Profile Image for Eric Anderson.
665 reviews3,228 followers
September 27, 2020
When I was at university it felt like Don DeLillo was one of the most important contemporary writers that you should be reading if you wanted to be serious about literature. His novels “White Noise” and “Libra” were hailed as brilliant critiques of American society and “Underworld” was considered one of the finest recent works worthy of that canonical accolade 'Great American Novel'. I have no quibble with his lofty position in literature's firmament, but I will say that while I appreciate and enjoy his novels I have never loved them. I've found it curious that over the past two decades he's produced a series of relatively slender novels compared to the girth and swagger of “Underworld”. I haven't read any of his books since the publication of “The Body Artist” in 2001 so I was excited to dive into his latest novel.

“The Silence” is only 116 pages long with large type so I read the novel aloud in its entirety to my partner while we were on a recent cross-European car drive. Since we're in the midst of a pandemic we weren't allowed to stop in certain countries such as France or Switzerland (because their rates of infection are high and we'd have to quarantine when we got back to the UK if we interacted with anyone there.) So reading aloud from a dystopian novel that ominously predicts the breakdown of our technology-addicted world was quite a visceral experience. Luckily my partner and I weren't flying because the novel describes a couple's journey on a plane from Europe to America. During their flight an inexplicable technological “blackout” occurs across the world leading them to crash. However, after dealing with the administrative process that follows the wreckage, they continue with their planned trip to visit a friends' house to watch the Super Bowl despite the fact that their computers, phones and television don't work anymore. The year is 2022 and, though it appears the modern world has utterly collapsed, it feels like nothing is more important to this assemblage of people than carrying on with this great American tradition of watching a football game.

Read my full review of The Silence by Don DeLillo on LonesomeReader
Profile Image for Christina.
545 reviews200 followers
September 30, 2020
An interesting book about a pandemic of a different type that infects not humans, but the power grid. I’m a fan of Don DeLillo and his ideas are always weird and pensive and fascinating and this is no different.

First the book begins with a couple in a plane, before and after a crash landing into the new world without power or screens. DeLillo as always captures a new strange atmosphere and impending doom very adeptly and creepily.

The book also, very eerily, captures the feeling of being in a pandemic even though it was written before the pandemic we are currently in. It also poses questions about our dependence on (and as he puts it, “mesmerization” with) electronics, and captures the feeling of our country living under the threat and worry of terrorism.

This is a novella so it is a quick but ponderous literary read. While not among my favorites of DeLillo’s, I still very much enjoyed the tone, atmosphere, and questions it posed. And I thought the ending was perfect.

Thanks to Scribner, DeLillo and NetGalley for the ARC. This story will be available on October 6.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
648 reviews247 followers
December 9, 2021
Don DeLillo es uno de los novelistas americanos contemporáneos que tienes que haber leído sí o sí y, como no era mi caso, me decidí a empezar con esta breve novella – poco más de 100 páginas – recientemente publicada.

El tema del apocalipsis digital siempre es cool y tenía curiosidad por ver qué añadía el autor a los numerosos relatos sobre la cara que se nos quedará si un día se apagan todas las comunicaciones y no podemos coger el metro ni entrar en Facebook. Pues bien, la respuesta no tardó en llegar leyendo las primeras páginas de este libro: silencio y aburrimiento. Básicamente. Aderezado con unas cuantas reflexiones filosóficas sobre Einstein y Jesucristo. La famosa frase de Einstein sobre la tercera guerra mundial. Unos protagonistas – dos parejas y un exalumno de una de ellas – que parecen sacados de una obra de Beckett, con unos diálogos que flirtean con el absurdo.

Menos mal que se acaba pronto. El centro de interés es que se han reunido para ver la Superbowl en televisión. Y eso es una tendencia en estos ‘grandes’ escritores americanos contemporáneos, lo he encontrado en Paul Auster y Stephen King entre otros, que se ponen a hablar de deportes y de equipos como si fuera lo más interesante de la vida y a todo el mundo mundial le parece bien.

En fin, no sé. Para mí el apocalipsis más desustanciado que he leído. Pero a lo mejor la realidad sería algo así, no nos engañemos. Yo no le he visto la gracia, pero quizá tenga que leer algo más del autor para enterarme.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books322 followers
August 1, 2020
This is a new DeLillo long short story in the guise of a novel. It had a few crystalline moments, but added up to a less satisfying whole than any of his other works. Make sure you read Underworld, White Noise and the seldom mentioned Angel Esmeralda before you try this one. DeLillo is still one of America's best living writers, but like the new Lethem book, this is a minor work, and also capitalizes on current societal anxieties. It's mostly dialogue, and describes a few disconnected themes and events. It's all in the product description. Can be read in one sitting.
Profile Image for Justo Martiañez.
373 reviews118 followers
September 19, 2021
2/5 Estrellas

Vale, los seres humanos somos totalmente dependientes de la energía, unos yonkies de las tecnologías y tendentes al autismo social. ¿Qué pasaría si todo nuestro sistema tecnológico colapsara de forma repentina? Yo visualizo caos circulatorio, informativo, social, saqueos, asesinatos, pero no visualizo a un tipo parafraseando a Einstein en alemán, preconizando la 3ª Guerra mundial y una conspiración sinocomunista para hacerse con el poder en el mundo. Vamos, que no me ha llegado demasiado el librito.
Al menos era corto.....
Profile Image for Mike.
299 reviews137 followers
November 1, 2020

Mike had in the past expressed ambivalence about Don DeLillo's writing, but still he pre-ordered The Silence, DeLillo's 18th novel. $10.99 it cost, $11.72 with tax, although the money had no physical reality. Not like those U.S. dollars that became so unfamiliar- the rough texture, the peculiar green, the iconography, the obtrusiveness of shape in the wallet- after time spent in another country. Imagine a wallet jammed into a back pocket, the wallet itself crammed with receipts and other detritus of one's travels. The protruding kind of wallet that forces you to tighten your belt a notch, that has its own gravitational pull; a wallet that speaks of lived experience. But something antiquated about even this image. Everything touchless now. Tap the screen, instant payment. $10.99 wireless, the novel arriving out of nowhere at midnight, through complicated electronic mechanisms, in silence.

Despite previously having expressed ambivalence, a new DeLillo novel felt to Mike like an Event. Das Ereignis in German. The term referenced in the ravings of a Russian fascist Mike happened to be reading at the time. The term used by Heidegger to describe the return of Being, the surge of Being into what he thought was an age of Non-Being and nothingness. Heidegger thought (caveat- according to the ravings of the aforementioned Russian fascist) that maybe the rise of Hitler represented this return of Being. But still the DeLillo novel, an Event. Mike wrote it down beforehand in his notebook. 10/20/20- new Don DeLillo novel. Odd, the multiple of 10 repeated. Although, mathematically speaking, even. 11/3- presidential election. 11/27- a new Smashing Pumpkins album, hear what Billy Corgan has been up to. Ways to mark time. Stave off thoughts of death. A communal event, a form of secular worship. Read The Silence with Kareem. Discuss. 

The Silence centered around the Super Bowl, and football the last American religion. A politician could say that he'd once strangled a cat to death just to feel what it would be like to kill something, and a few people might raise their eyebrows. But to admit to not watching the Super Bowl, or to being disinterested in its outcome, would be political death. Fatal error. Donors and advisors very upset. Constituents uncomprehending. Political career down in flames. Loss of the heartland- important demographic. But not just the heartland. The young wizards, the incomprehensible men of tomorrow, they have the data, and the data says that people watch the Super Bowl. Upper-class and proletariat. Urban and rural. Gamblers and bookies and other variously interested parties. A game that had become something more; a game that had become everything. A distraction for some, life-or-death and possible financial ruin for those who'd felt the need to up life's ante. Toddlers outfitted by parents in parents' favorite team's gear, not legally considered child abuse. Divorce rates skyrocket every February- the incompatibility of a Patriot and a Seahawk under one roof. Of a Steeler and a Brown. Of an Eagle and a Cowboy. Crowded bars of men and women, TVs arranged at every conceivable angle. The ritual of it all. Sinner and saint alike. The gnashing of teeth. The yelling of imprecations at the tube. At the screens. Death threats DMed across multiple social media platforms to players who make unforgivable errors, costing their team the game; costing gamblers incalculable amounts of money. Their names ringing forever in infamy, and on mid-afternoon sports radio. Perhaps Vegas will be happy, though, Vegas always one step ahead. "Vegas" the metonym, not the actual city of Las Vegas. The metonym that evokes images of smoke-filled rooms off the Strip, the rooms with little desk lamps where they crunch the numbers and set the lines. Or do they crunch the lines and set the numbers? The tapping of calculator keys the rooms' only sound. The money all virtual, without physical form. The Super Bowl every first Sunday in February, although in the past wasn't it the last Sunday in January? No one can remember, we are too deep into the anthropocene. 

It always seemed suspicious that the Patriots won their first Super Bowl a few months after 9/11, as if to suggest that, if you were patriotic, fortune would smile on you. These days, they play football with no bubble. The images a kind of mythology in which we knowingly partake, contribute to. The coronavirus holds illimitable dominion over all.

Metonym. Mike hoped he had used it correctly. Not a word that Don DeLillo would let slip by without having his characters remark upon it. Metonym. Three syllables. From the Greek metonymia. "A change of name." Pronounce it slowly.

Metonym. Met-ah-nym. "In world news today, Washington told Moscow that the missile tests would continue, and that Moscow could kiss its [Washington's] ass." In that sentence, Washington and Moscow are both metonyms. Yes?

Despite the disrespect arguably inherent in writing such a parody/homage, Mike enjoyed The Silence. Seemed representative of what the NYT guy who interviewed DeLillo called "late style." Seemed appropriate, in this new era, for the plot to just disintegrate, trail off into the void like that. Why not? Resonated with the times like music. Suggested a quiet negative capability, a breath of fresh air after fascist ravings.


"All my life I've been waiting for this without knowing it", says one character of the disruptive and inexplicable and existentially-unmooring global Event that takes place in The Silence, and I try to highlight the line on the Kindle Cloud Reader, failing. Problem with my keypad, maybe. Alright, I think, reaching for a pen, opening my notebook, if you're not going to let me fucking highlight it, I'll just write it down my--

--the highlight appears, but I finish writing the line anyway. Will it be known to Amazon and data collectors and political operatives that I found this line significant enough to highlight? Will they be able to use this information to market something else to me? True, they don't know whether I liked the line or didn't, they don't know what I thought about it; only that I thought something. Or that I accidentally highlighted it. Surely they couldn't account for a muscle twitch. Or have they already fed the sentence through the algorithm, cross-referenced with my previous purchases? Do they already know better than I do?

Kareem reminds me that, about ten years ago, I asked him if Don DeLillo was somehow tricking us all into thinking he had something meaningful to say. I still wonder; maybe he has just tricked me again. Saw him once in person- DeLillo, that is. Kareem many times. Saw DeLillo in the flesh, as they say, that ghastly expression. IRL, which even then, in 2012, was not known as such. At least not by me. Now we have the acronym to refer to that mythological place that seems to be moving out of reach, receding into the distance. Into memory. Aye. Arr. Ell. Saw DeLillo in conversation- when asked about his writing, where he gets his ideas, you know the typical kind of question they ask writers, I remember him shrugging and saying something to the effect that he gets up in the morning, has some cereal, and goes to work at his typewriter. Liked him more after this answer. Similar to an answer he gave in the NYT interview, regarding a choice he made while writing Zero K- "I did have a reason for doing that but who the hell knows what it was." Shook his hand towards the end of that evening in 2012, asked him to sign my paperback copy of his just-released short-story collection, The Angel Esmerelda. Still have it. To Mike, it says at the top of the title page, and below: Don DeLillo. Seemed like a nice guy.
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