Don DeLillo – Reviewed By William Wood

September 10, 2010

A great essay on Don DeLillo by William Wood appears in the latest issue of The Point magazine. In brief, he likes “Americana” and “Underworld” and doesn’t really like “Point Omega.”

Although DeLillo considers himself to have reached maturity only with White Noise, Americana shows a writer having already perfected his voice at its inception. The author’s departure in Americana from traditional tropes of plot, character development and so on bears witness that the essence of traditional formal conventions was not the extrinsic form itself but the underlying pathetic dynamic they successfully sustained. Critique of this departure is therefore as irrelevant as would be a critique of modern theater on account of its virtually ubiquitous disregard for the Aristotelian unities of place, time and action.

I find the arguments equally persuasive and entertaining. The only thing I’d add, though, is to say that I think it’s a mistake to write-off any of DeLillo’s novels as lesser or minor works. “Great Jones Street” being the leading case in point. Greeted with mixed reviews when it first came out, strong echoes of “Great Jones Street” have been heard repeatedly since then, after “Infinite Jest,” Kurt Cobain’s death, and most recently in Jonathan Letham’s “Chronic City.”

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