Sunday, May 13, 2007

New York Magazine's Guide to Don DeLillo

New York Magazine offers up this guide to oeuvre of novelist Don DeLillo. Ever since I read End Zone at Northwestern as part of a survey of 20th Century American Literature (thank you, Professor Fynaardt) I was sold on the work of DeLillo. Every novel I read was a revelation and when the next American Lit class Professor Fynaardt taught brought us White Noise I realized just how good Don DeLillo was. He was nothing like any other author I had encountered and I needed, not wanted, to read everything else the man has written. Some of it has been quite brilliant and outstanding, other novels were something of a mystery.

I agree with much of how New York Magazine categorizes the work of DeLillo. Pafko at the Wall (the prologue of Underworld published as an individual volume) is one of the most outstanding pieces of fiction I have read and it was simply the prologue to a novel! I understand why Libra is considered a classic, but it is the only one of the four in the Classic category which did not completely knock me down.

Likewise, I would knock Great Jones Street down a couple pegs and out of the Recommended category. I would probably swap GJS's place with End Zone. Very funny and an odd combination of football and nuclear war.

On the other hand, I could not agree more with the To Avoid category: Cosmopolis, The Body Artist, and all three of the man's plays. Immensely disappointing.

The Unread List for me: Ratner's Star (which I own), Amazons (which I do not), and the forthcoming Falling Man.

DeLillo has long been a favorite and if Falling Man can deliver the goods like DeLillo's novels once delivered, I will be one happy reader. Shoot, if Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth can get better with age, there is no reason why Don DeLillo cannot be another fine wine in the American vintage.

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