27May

Old Thoughts Of DeLillo’s “Underworld”

Last post I take from my old blog, I promise. Just that there’s more people reading this one, so hey, I want certain things to be noticed. Like this one, of what I suspect is my favourite book. Or one of them.

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So this weekend I finished reading Underworld by Don DeLillo. A monster of a book. Eight hundred plus pages. There’s nothing I can really say that every major world newspaper or author has said already, I suppose. (This is the third DeLillo novel I’ve read in a row after Americana and White Noise.)

But I’ve never been struck by just how powerful writing can be, style-wise. Sure, the themes are pretty major. Death. Contemporary life. The history of modern America. Paranoia. The government. It ain’t just that. It’s the way he’s telling it. The effortless descriptions, the jazz-cool sentences, the way he makes the reader inherit the characters’ thoughts, not merely observe them and their actions from afar.

Floating zones of desire. It was the what, the dismantling of desire into a thousand subspecialities, into spin-offs and narrowings, edge-wise whispers of self… If you were open to suggestion you could float through the zone, finding out who you were by your attachments, slice by slice, tasting the deli specials of the street. You were defined by your fixation.

He captures the heart of a landscape so effortlessly. There’s a way to bring landscape alive in the way it interacts with people, and vice versa, because that’s how a place is. You don’t always see that done well in fiction.

Anyway, so what I’m rambling about is, wow, this guy is probably the best writer I’m likely to come across. And that makes me a little sad, but I’m always open-minded that there’ll be other great stuff. It’s not often you’re struck by someone’s prose.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

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