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Underworld by Don DeLillo

Underworld (original 1997; edition 2007)

by Don DeLillo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,60466904 (3.89)219
Authors:Don DeLillo
Info:Scribner (2007), Hardcover, 832 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading

Work details

Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)

  1. 30
    The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Bolaño's novel is set mostly In Mexico City, rather than the US. He uses some similar techniques to DeLillo to produce a much more accomplished and interesting work. It will probably appeal to those who enjoyed Underworld.
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    Hibou8: Profound, and profoundly american.

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» See also 219 mentions

English (58)  Italian (4)  Serbian (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Underworld by Don DeLillo starts out easily enough, a young man named Cotter wishes to attend a baseball game. Apparently, this game is really important, the third in a playoff series that would culminate in the World Series, or so I assume. DeLillo is a master of description, putting forth a visual feast for the senses. From the food that is eaten to other matter, DeLillo doesn’t miss a beat. Cotter cuts school to attend this game, which is a huge deal for him. Along the way, a historical event happens; the Soviets drop a Super, an H-Bomb. The date is October 3, 1951. Jackie Gleason is in the crowd alongside Frank Sinatra and J Edgar Hoover. There is another man there, but I don’t remember his name or recognize it for that matter. J Edgar Hoover as we all know, was the head of the FBI for a long, long time. Frank Sinatra was a musician of no small account. Jackie Gleason was a comedian that showed up in The Honeymooners and did other things to make him famous before the Honeymooners. If you are interested in who wins the game, the book tells you that as well, it’s the Giants with a score of 5-4. And that was merely the prologue.

The book itself is pretty long. There is much to say in the manner of memory and nostalgia. However, it does take a bit to get going, and this is something that you can’t do with my current attention span. The fact of the matter is, although I do enjoy reading, it is difficult for me to focus on this particular book. I don’t know why that is. The book has mesmerizing dialogue and reminds me somewhat of Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I don’t really feel like reading it any further than what I have. Perhaps I will return to it later. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Read the first 100 pages and quit. Didn't catch. ( )
  deldevries | Oct 21, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 2009):
- I was in a receptive, uninterrupted state when I read this [in 2002], so that I can proudly say I got through it. How much can be retained from a literary tome like this? Hard to say, I think my brain had indigestion for a few days.
- My most favorite part is the Prologue "The Triumph of Death", with the Dodgers-Giants game, Bobby Thompson's shot heard 'round the world, Sinatra/Gleason/J Edgar Hoover in the stands, the dreamy chase for the winning belt. I appreciate the enormous literary talent of any author brave enough to craft such a sweeping saga, but for many readers I think it would be easy to run the battery low trying to decipher this. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | May 4, 2018 |
While I didn't have any trouble reading it, the structure of the book didn't really work for me (jumping back and forth in time & between characters) and I ended up with a feeling of "so what was the point of all that?" I never really became engaged with any of the characters and the connection between some of them seemed extremely thin. Oh well... ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 25, 2018 |
Don DeLillo's "Underworld" is a very modern novel. The thing is, I despise modern novels. I have no interest in baseball. I couldn't even remember the character's names partway through this.... I just found it so very dull. I didn't care what happened to the baseball, who got killed and why or about Marian and her husband's martial troubles.

I know this novel has received heaps of acclaim and praise... so I'm sure it's wonderful if you're into these types of books, but this one definitely wasn't for me. ( )
  amerynth | Apr 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
'"Underworld" is a victim of its own ambition: by trying to cover such a wide range of characters and situations, DeLillo loses track of some of them' ... 'Despite its faults DeLillo has created an ambitious and powerful novel...'
added by GYKM | editSpike Magazine, Gary Marshall (Dec 1, 1998)
This "is his best novel and perhaps that most elusive of creatures, a great American novel."

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Don DeLilloprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mikulášková, LucieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of my mother and father.
First words
He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful.
Parla la tua lingua, l'americano, e c'è una luce nel suo sguardo che è una mezza speranza.
"How is it we did so much laughing? How is it people came over with their empty pockets and bad backs and not so good marriages and twenty minutes later we're all laughing?"
"Sometimes faith needs a sign. There are times when you want to stop working at faith and just be washed in a blowing wind that tells you everything."
Tutto è collegato, alla fine.
Il ciberspazio è una cosa dentro il mondo, o il contrario? Quale contiene quale e come si può esserne sicuri?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684848155, Paperback)

While Eisenstein documented the forces of totalitarianism and Stalinism upon the faces of the Russian peoples, DeLillo offers a stunning, at times overwhelming, document of the twin forces of the cold war and American culture, compelling that "swerve from evenness" in which he finds events and people both wondrous and horrifying. Underworld opens with a breathlessly graceful prologue set during the final game of the Giants-Dodgers pennant race in 1951. Written in what DeLillo calls "super-omniscience" the sentences sweep from young Cotter Martin as he jumps the gate to the press box, soars over the radio waves, runs out to the diamond, slides in on a fast ball, pops into the stands where J. Edgar Hoover is sitting with a drunken Jackie Gleason and a splenetic Frank Sinatra, and learns of the Soviet Union's second detonation of a nuclear bomb. It's an absolutely thrilling literary moment. When Bobby Thomson hits Branca's pitch into the outstretched hand of Cotter--the "shot heard around the world"--and Jackie Gleason pukes on Sinatra's shoes, the events of the next few decades are set in motion, all threaded together by the baseball as it passes from hand to hand.

"It's all falling indelibly into the past," writes DeLillo, a past that he carefully recalls and reconstructs with acute grace. Jump from Giants Stadium to the Nevada desert in 1992, where Nick Shay, who now owns the baseball, reunites with the artist Kara Sax. They had been brief and unlikely lovers 40 years before, and it is largely through the events, spinoffs, and coincidental encounters of their pasts that DeLillo filters the Cold War experience. He believes that "global events may alter how we live in the smallest ways," and as the book steps back in time to 1951, over the following 800-odd pages, we see just how those events alter lives. This reverse narrative allows the author to strip away the detritus of history and pop culture until we get to the story's pure elements: the bomb, the baseball, and the Bronx. In an epilogue as breathless and stunning as the prologue, DeLillo fast-forwards to a near future in which ruthless capitalism, the Internet, and a new, hushed faith have replaced the Cold War's blend of dread and euphoria.

Through fragments and interlaced stories--including those of highway killers, artists, celebrities, conspiracists, gangsters, nuns, and sundry others--DeLillo creates a fragile web of connected experience, a communal Zeitgeist that encompasses the messy whole of five decades of American life, wonderfully distilled.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:12 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A 1950s teenage hood from New York is transformed by the Jesuits into a respectable man, managing hazardous waste. A portrait of the decade from the viewpoint of the garbage industry.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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