Colin McKay Miller's Reviews > White Noise

White Noise by Don DeLillo
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Don DeLillo’s White Noise may be uneven—with the stellar second part, “The Airborne Toxic Event,” stealing the show—but it’s still my favorite DeLillo to date.

Professor Jack Gladley has pioneered the field of Hitler studies at his local college. He and his fifth wife, Babette, have a huge fear of death and they each wonder who will die first. Together they have a grip of kids and stepkids, and one of the aspects I really admired in this DeLillo novel (above all the others) is his understanding of the sweetness and complexities of blended families. One of the other things I remember (it has been five years, mind you) is that I read White Noise when a poorly reviewed horror flick of the same name came out and I mistakenly thought they were related. (I did not need to see this flick to know that it was not the comeback Michael Keaton hoped for. Maybe with the “Beetlejuice” sequel, bro…)

Though the slow first part of the novel, “Waves and Radiation,” has little plot outside of exploring the Gladley family dynamic, the second part, “The Airborne Toxic Event,” is the reason to read the novel. All those fears of mortality the parental Gladleys have rage to life as a chemical spill prompts an evacuation. The third part, “Dylarama,” isn’t nearly as good, and even though the story takes an odd(er) twist that is disappointing after such an intriguing section, the parts work together, the social commentary rings true, and the plot still holds well enough that years later, if someone asked me if it’s a postmodern novel, I’ll still reply with, “No, it was actually good.” Three stars, but reaching higher.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Lacey So I only skimmed your review, just in case of spoilers, as I am CURRENTLY reading this book. I have to disagree with you though...the first section was just as good as the second! It was so witty and succinct, I thought. But I guess that's the part that screams "postmodern!" at the top of it's lungs. That's not a bad thing, though. At least not for someone who wants to be a professor of contemporary literature...Of course, it's never too late to switch to Hitler Studies.

Colin McKay Miller I kept it spoiler free, yo. Interested to hear what you think by the end.

message 3: by Jef (new)

Jef Jef i'd have to agree that the last third didn't hold my attention nearly as much as the first 2/3rds; but his deadpan, biting social commentary remained consistent. it was interesting to note the archetypal characters in the last third, placed there (in my opinion) to inject a bit of the author's personal beliefs, and solidify the numbing journey that is 'white noise'

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