Saturday, March 5, 2011

Underworld by Don DeLillo

In the Anarchist Library

Possibly the best book I've ever read. I would stick my nose in this book and hours later I would emerge completely disoriented. Where am I? Where have I been? I began to suspect that DeLillo was using the language itself to hypnotize me. I could feel myself falling as I read, losing full awareness.

What is it about?  I'm not sure I can say exactly.  Growing up in the mean streets of Brooklyn?  Our society as seen through its garbage (a theme of DeLillo's)?   Love and art and literature and history?  Or all these things.  Though it is told through many voices and points-of-view, the story is about Nick trying to to suburban middle age.

I just reread this lengthy tome for the second time. I would like to take time dissecting it, looking at the symbolism, the intersections of character. I'd happily host a deep reading of this book if anyone else had the patience for it.

The prologue alone, a skittering and lengthy retelling of an historical baseball moment held me – a total sports dropout – completely enthralled. It was originally published as a stand-alone longish short story. Throughout the story, this same baseball moves through time and space and character like a ghostly and oddly shameful MacGuffin.

In my humble opinion, the Epilogue is weaker than the rest of the book and the poorest integrated. I wondered about DeLillo's intention with this.

But this curiosity notwithstanding, it is a remarkable work. (Review by Wes, SubRosa staff)

Published by Simon & Schuster 1997

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