Friday, February 19, 2010

book review -- White Noise


"I know how you feel. But the tough part is yet to come. You've said good-bye to everyone but yourself. How does a person say good-bye to himself? It's a juicy existential dilemma."

"It certainly is."

We walked past the administration building.
(Excerpt--Chapter 37)
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Pondering a juicy existential dilemma past the admin building? Is that what some subset of Academic intellectuals massage their pool cue to, while pondering despair and meaningless for recreation? I have to admit--I felt dumb with most of my attempts at trying to read and finish White Noise.

Escalating from the first few, seemingly harmless, chapters, it became increasingly difficult to comprehend what was going on in a narrative sense within each well-manicured sentence, within every well-stacked paragraph--perhaps telling an actual "story" was beside the point.

My discombobulation was comparable to how a child might feel staring out a window, watching dense and flaky snow fall, waiting for it to stick during a surprise storm in February, hoping for a snow day; all while denying the intuition that the snow was actually couscous; the child itself being a ghost--trapped, inescapable, in a torrential and toxic pale food hurricane.

By the time I got to chapter 19, the story made just as much sense reading it completely backwards. I began reading chapters 20-24 backwards as well, until I decided against patronizing DeLillo's art, and resumed putting the contents of White Noise in my head, in a more organized and respectable manner.

There were glimpses of the narrator's pillowy wife, a tawdry Mr Gray affair, a no-fear-of-death Dylar pill, novelty lists of collected this & thats, a cute trickle of brand name name-drop time-lining, and a black funnel mass of déjà vu inducing hysteria.

If talent is determined by how complicated it would be to duplicate an artist's style in a piece, then I can see why DeLillo's White Noise is placed on a pedestal as a must-read, 1985 National Book award winning, work of post-modern fiction.

It reeks the kind of complicatedness that could be perceived a modern cousin of Ulysses--as far as tone is concerned, but with much less rhythm, which explains it's inability to be more cohesive in it's overall structure.
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