White Noise by Don DeLillo, (Bowie's Top 100 for June)
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Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. This is the story of his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an 'Airborne Toxic Event' and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear - his own mortality. White Noise is an effortless combination of social satire and metaphysical dilemma in which DeLillo exposes our rampant consumerism, media saturation and novelty intellectualism. It captures the particular strangeness of life lived when the fear of death cannot be denied, repressed or obscured and ponders the role of the family in a time when the very meaning of our existence is under threat.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner--January ✔ ✔
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote -- February ✔ ✔
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters -- March ✔ ✔
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima -- April ✔ ✔
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman -- May ✔ ✔
White Noise by Don DeLillo -- reading in June
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It has an introduction by Richard Powers, which I will read seeing as I have already read the book. I feel like it might add a lot to a second reading.
Here is my pretty book. It has fold over into the inside cardboard edge bits (which I am sure there is a name for), and deckle edges. Mmmmm, deckle edges ;)
It is second hand from the US, but it somehow ended up in an op shop here, and I was able to nab it for $2!!!
I'm right in my element here, I have shown that book to RL people and not got nearly as enthusiastic a response!!
I love this book.
Would now be a good time to talk about how I sometimes just pick up my copy and stroke it?.....no? OK, Ill bring it up again later ;)
I tried to see if I could track down the essay about it above >15 LovingLit: but instead entered the world of online student cribs. Hey ho.
ETA: Found it! http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/541354/white-noise-by-don-delillo/excerpt
Happt reading, y'all; I'll be rootin' for yas.
*rushes for book to see about said chapters as hadn't noticed there were chapters*
Wow! There are chapters. How did I miss that? I'm thinking I may have already said to much in this post to regain any kind of credibility, but, I'm going to try.
I am just past chapter 20, just into book II (which is nearly half way through the book for those of you following along). So not far past Mamie...and I am loving it too!
I like all the description and the nuances of everyday life laid out like they are. I notice the details too, so I guess I can relate to his style in that sense. I know others have criticised his writing for going on and on about mundane things, but I love it :)
Eta: and, Mamie, you will be pleased to hear that the deckle edges make it very hard to flick through the pages, like for example, if you are looking for if there are chapters or not :)
I find it interesting that all of the chapters are pretty short except for chapter 21, which comprises the whole of book II. And I also love the talk of mundane things because that is exactly what happens when people talk - they get off subject or are talking about different things at the same times. It rings real to me. The only part so far that REALLY got on my nerves was the discussion between Babette and Jack in chapter 7 that starts, "What do you want to do?" This read like Hemingway wrote the dialogue, and made me cringe because Hemingway is so bad at dialogue between men and women in a relationship.
This book is filled with quotable passages that speak to me -my book darts are getting a workout.
*sits in the corner with arms folded*
That section of dialogue irritated me too, I just wanted someone (anyone) to make a decision. Or, what would have been more likely, someone to get frustrated and roll over and read their (not necessarily saucy) book in a huff!
>33 charl08: no fair! What if you call them every day and ask, would that help?
And I love the book darts - I just have to remember to take them out of library books before I return them. One time I realized I had left them in when I returned the book, and I went back the next day to retrieve them - luckily, the book was sitting right there on the shelf, all my book darts intact.
Yay, you are done! Congrats, I'll read the spoiler when I'm done. I'm on a go-slow for the others. But their books are....taking...so....long.... :|
I was thoughtless and gobbled mine right up without waiting for the others to be served.
So I broke down and purchased my very own copy because I know I will read it again. I got the same one as you, except I didn't get it for $2. It's lovely.
Anyone else yet? I am still saving the second half, but based on my first reading of it many years ago, and the fact that it is practically the book that turned me from a non-reader into a (hard core fanatical) reader, I am going to say I will enjoy the second half too.
I love that the Mom has instituted weekly TV nights in the hopes of making it largely uncool and thus not worth her kids time. Ha!! That doesn't work, I can tell you!!
And the main character has been advised by the chancellor to change his name and beef up his frame in order to be more of an authority figure with greater clout. How very shallow.
That's me!! Feeling very sad. : P
Isn't this ahead of its time? I wonder how he thinks of the world now, now that what he describes in the book is amplified beyond all proportion!!??
"I realized the place was awash in noise. The toneless systems, the jangle and skid of carts, the loudspeaker and coffee-making machines, the cries of children. And over it all, or under it all, a dull and unlocateable roar, as of some form of swarming life just outside the range of human apprehension." (36)
What a bland cover! But there was nothing bland inside the pages of my old copy of White Noise. The quote refers to the supermarket where Jack Gladney seems to spend way too much time. With four growing children, I suppose one has to. The book was published in 1984, before the proliferation of Sam's Clubs and other mega stores. We do live in a noisy world, though much of it is by choice. When I'm alone in the house, the only sound is the very welcome hum of air conditioners and the occasional pecking away at my keyboard.
I think Delilo had a lot of fun with this satire on the social culture of our times. I wish he would update it to the frenzy of technology that has burst on the scene in the 26 years since the book came out. Now we have Facebook and other infinite ways to waste time on the World Wide Web which was just beginning its stranglehold on our attention back then. Wasteful consumerism and trivialities abound. Alienation and confusion are a way of life.
I think I liked this book…at least I can say that today. Who knows what I will think upon further reflection? Parts of it were fresh and fun while other parts were just plain tiresome. Talk, talk, talk. No wonder Jack had four wives and five marriages! I would want out if my DH rattled on the way he did with his family. There seemed to be no sense of purpose in the conversations about whether or not it was raining and other inane topics. The dialogue could have been taken from some of the funnier Sienfeld episodes about nothing. There was a lot of randomness, not only in the talk, but in the bits of advertisements, etc. that warranted space. I thought that was clever on his part. Who hasn't random thoughts that just pop into our heads without warning? Just for the record, mine wouldn't include a Datsun Maxima. I owned a Maxima in the 80s and it was a Nissan!
Of course, I get that this was a satiric social commentary. I loved the stabs at academia and the atheistic nuns were a hoot. This was a good book to get me out of my favorite comfort zones of realistic and historic fiction reading. The black cloud that hung over the middle section was great as it mirrored the black cloud of Fear of Death that hovered over the characters. I thought the end was over the top, but, maybe by then, I was ready to retreat to my purposeful and somewhat quiet life of reading and caring for my family.
I am mere pages away from completing the book. My heavy eyelids won two nights in a row!
White Noise by Don DeLillo (Bowie's top 100 list, reread)
Thanks to my poor memory, and that I first read this book over a decade ago, I was able to re-read this book and yet feel like it was my first time (bonus!!). This may actually be the book which turned me into a reader. I can't say why I absent-mindedly picked it off a friend's shelf and started it, I had had no inclination to ever do that with a book before- but it blew me away. The insights the author had about how life was just resonated with me. I found it comforting that someone else thought so much how about the little things (which are actually the big things). Anyway, I loved it then, and I loved it again this time.
Rather than talking about the plot, which to me is usually secondary to the experience of reading, I will talk about a few things that the book made me feel. It made me feel like we (as human beings in the Western world) are kidding ourselves that our consumerist lifestyles are making us happy (please PM me if you want to read a 4,500 word essay I wrote about the dissatisfaction that consumerism engenders- that is overkill, but goes to prove I have thought about this topic in depth!). This book slyly and drily makes this point, I think. Jack is the man whose comments and observations bring to light a scepticism about the benefits of modern life that many are able to quell in the hubbub of their daily grind. Through his and his families experience of a "toxic airborne event" there are hints dropped about how the way our society is structured hinders our ability to be at ease within it. When reading this book I was thinking about how we are persuaded to think differently about things via advertising and bureaucratic dictates - how we are distracted and removed from basic common sense ways of handling ourselves.
And it's funny! Maybe because we all worry about life/death/stuff, and we know that we can distract ourselves from this by keeping busy and sticking to the programme. Jack ends up varying wildly from accepted forms of distraction, but in a way that seems quite rational given his thought processes. All this is very cleverly laid out and was a dream to read.