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Oh my oh my oh my

John Lanchester, 12 September 1991

Mao II 
by Don DeLillo.
Cape, 239 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 9780224031523
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Introducing Don DeLillo 
edited by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 221 pp., £28, September 1991, 0 8223 1135 6
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... interesting fiction he has made of his life. Bill Gray, the central character of Mao II, Don DeLillo’s tenth novel, is one of these Pynchon/Salinger recluses: the mysterious power of the image of the writer-cum-herrnit is one of the book’s main concerns. ‘When a writer refuses to show his face,’ Gray muses, ‘he becomes a local symptom ...

Post-Paranoid

Michael Wood: Underworld by Don Delillo, 5 February 1998

Underworld 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 832 pp., £10, February 1998, 0 330 36995 4
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... There is a world inside the world,’ Lee Harvey Oswald repeats in Don DeLillo’s novel Libra (1988). The phrase suggests wheels within wheels, partly because Oswald is obsessively riding the New York subway when we first hear it. ‘There’s more to it,’ David Ferrie says in the same novel. ‘There’s always more to it ...

The Small Noise Upstairs

Frank Kermode: Don DeLillo, 8 March 2001

The Body Artist 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 124 pp., £13.99, February 2001, 0 330 48495 8
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... the decisive home run was scored. The Body Artist is about as long as the Underworld ball-game. DeLillo is a serious and various writer, and we have to take these extremes as deliberately chosen to reflect different aspects of his talent. Underworld belongs to the category of the Great American Novel, to which all the really big writers aspire. Structurally ...

Pure Vibe

Christopher Tayler: Don DeLillo, 4 May 2016

Zero K 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 274 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 1 5098 2285 0
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... When​  Libra came out in 1988, the American writer Robert Towers said that it had made Don DeLillo the ‘chief shaman of the paranoid school of American fiction’. ‘Paranoid school’ doesn’t get you very far – Pynchon and Mailer, both broad-brush comparisons, were the other faculty members Towers had in mind – but there’s mileage in the notion of DeLillo as a shaman ...

Deathward

Adam Begley, 24 November 1988

Libra 
by Don DeLillo.
Viking, 456 pp., £11.95, November 1988, 0 670 82317 1
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... they contain – the playground of the conspiracy junkie. Nicholas Branch, a pivotal character in Don DeLillo’s Libra, a retired CIA intelligence analyst hired to write the CIA’s own, secret history of the Kennedy assassination, thinks of the 26 volumes as ‘the Joycean Book of America ... the novel in which nothing is left out’. Although it ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone, 1 October 1998

Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... a belief, is now an idle liberty. Writers such as Robert Stone, Joan Didion, John Irving and even Don DeLillo, are praised for their ‘realism’, for the solidity of their plots, the patience of their characterisation, the capillary spread of their social portraits, the leverage of their political insight. Robert Stone is one of the best contemporary ...

Nutmegged

Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis., 10 May 2001

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... adjectives’. An especially favoured site of cliché infection is the adverb. When Don DeLillo has a character say something ‘quietly’ you know he’s drawing on a long tradition of ‘said quietly’ as a conventional announcement that the remark it follows should be taken as particularly impressive. Ordinary reviewers, and even this ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘Extraordinary Rendition’, 5 January 2006

... sounds like something that might go on, or be rumoured to go on, through the course of a novel by Don DeLillo. But there is no doubt that it does happen, despite the cagey denials and qualifications of the British and American governments. Condoleezza Rice has described extraordinary rendition as a ‘lawful weapon’ which has nothing to do with ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre, 20 November 2003

Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... characterises its effect as ‘like the Osbournes invited the Simpsons round for a root beer, and Don DeLillo dropped by to help them write a new song for Eminem,’ without telling us why that particular party would be enjoyable or even tolerable. Pierre’s splendour is the creation of a voice, that of a bitter, troubled but smart 15-year-old Texan ...

Alzheimer’s America

Mark Greif: Don DeLillo, 5 July 2007

Falling Man 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 246 pp., £16.99, May 2007, 978 0 330 45223 6
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... Don DeLillo’s new novel makes a direct but counterintuitive approach to the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. It is anti-sentimental: constructed in short episodes, it prohibits sympathy or tears. It is anti-grandiose: it retreats from the big pronouncements its peripheral characters try to make about terrorism, America, the West, the Middle East ...

History and Hats

D.A.N. Jones, 23 January 1986

The Lover 
by Marguerite Duras, translated by Barbara Bray.
Collins, 123 pp., £7.95, November 1985, 0 00 222946 3
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Stones of the Wall 
by Dai Houying, translated by Frances Wood.
Joseph, 310 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 7181 2588 6
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White Noise 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 326 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 330 29109 2
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... you’ve gone grey so quickly? You’re only just 44 and you’re half-white. People might think I don’t look after you.’ The epigraph to this chapter is: ‘History can be treacherous. It sometimes makes a surprise attack on me in the night. My hair has gone white.’ Each of the chapters is constructed in similar style. One of the ten principal ...

The Paranoid Elite

Michael Wood: DeLillo, 22 April 2010

Point Omega 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 117 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 330 51238 1
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... Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997) was in many ways a farewell to paranoia. Not the paranoid style in American politics, to quote the title of a famous essay by Richard Hofstadter (how could anyone say farewell to a mode so lavishly on the rise?), but to the paranoid fictions that animated DeLillo’s own novels The Names (1982) and Libra (1988), and went all the way back to Pynchon’s V (1963) and The Crying of Lot 49 (1966 ...

Her face was avant-garde

Christian Lorentzen: DeLillo’s Stories, 9 February 2012

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 211 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 4472 0757 3
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... Epoch, a quarterly published at Cornell, carried ‘The River Jordan’, a story by ‘Donald R. DeLillo’. It tells of a day in the life of Emil Burke, a mad Manhattan septuagenarian who leads a storefront chapel called the Psychic Church of the Crucified Christ, with a congregation of four. In the morning he descends to the Times Square subway station and ...

How to Be Good

Elaine Showalter: Carol Shields, 11 July 2002

Unless 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 213 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 00 713770 2
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... verities in small individual lives’ rather than ‘taking a broad canvas of society’ like Don DeLillo or Philip Roth. Well, Winters retorts: way back in high school we learned that the major themes of literature were birth, love, understanding, work, loneliness, connection and death. We believed that the readers of novels were themselves ...

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones, 11 December 1997

Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... the smartest lines in the story, being allowed, for example, to expand on his pet theories about Don Quixote and the difficulties, significantly enough, of representation. ‘Remember: throughout the book Don Quixote is preoccupied by the question of posterity. Again and again he wonders how accurately his chronicler will ...

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