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White Noise by Don DeLillo

White Noise (1985)

by Don DeLillo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,183113382 (3.78)1 / 299
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  4. 11
    Underworld by Don DeLillo (David_Cain)
    David_Cain: Everything good in White Noise is better in Underworld

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Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
Said a lot about technology, consumerism, and the environment; however, the biggest subject it touched on was the inevitable fact of death and how it's something we all fear and sometimes try to avoid in our own way. ( )
1 vote hay16mc | Feb 13, 2017 |
"White Noise" starts beautifully, a succession of swift, poignant observations on life one after another, like the rhythmic ticking of a clock. This is interrupted by two equally intriguing episodes in the centre of the book, and I could not wait to see where DeLillo would take them. However, as the third act unfolded, the revelations were far too benign for the ticking to continue so loudly and insistently. Everything finally comes to a head in a climax that first stumbles, then hurtles with disappointing abruptness into anticlimax. The beauty was obscured by an almost nihilist blindness on the part of the narrator. It felt to me like reading Camus' "L'Étranger," but in reverse. I can appreciate the efforts of "L'Étranger," but I did not enjoy it. Such, sadly, was the feeling with which I walked away from this book. This letdown in the face of an impending sudden impact may very well have been what the author intended, as it is echoed very literally by a scene earlier in the book, and by a constant obsession with car wrecks throughout. Still, I almost hate to say that I survived the crash. ( )
  quaintlittlehead | Nov 21, 2016 |
White Noise is a famous novel. It’s one of the prime examples of postmodern literature, and it’s the book that made Don DeLillo big. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1985 – Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home was nominated as well. It’s been analyzed to death: there are editions with the novel’s text & criticism side to side.

So yes, indeed, all of the stuff you have read about White Noise is true. There’s irony. Critique on television. Critique of consumer society. A lot of enumerations of consumer products. Enumerations of other stuff. Tiny snippets of commercials, documentaries, radio news, manuals. A protagonist that has been married 5 times to 4 women and who’s a professor in Hitler studies. Musings about death. Stuff about popular culture. General stuff. Specific stuff. Bleak stuff. American stuff. Meta stuff. 310 pages and about 10 meta lines for the literature post grad to feast upon. The novel is self-aware indeed.

I thought that when tradition becomes too flexible, irony enters the voice. Nasality, sarcasm, self-caricature and so on.

A description like that might be off putting to some. But it also misses the point, as postmodern meta-ness is not even the novel’s strength: it’s all fairly transparent anyway. What’s missing in most of the scholarly analysis I’ve read, is the humanity that underlies it all. White Noise, for me, was first and foremost a book with remarkable and deep emotional understanding of family life and fatherhood.


Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
1 vote bormgans | Nov 19, 2016 |
This book was incredibly interesting and dynamic. It was my first Don DeLillo book, but it came with much acclaim. It is destructive and dark while still holding true to a consistent funny voice that kept the anger and despair moving forward and light enough to tolerate. ( )
  ceciliachard | Oct 19, 2016 |
White Noise is probably DeLillo's most accessible novel, if he can any way can be deemed "accessible." All the usual DeLillo themes are here, media, terrorism, violence, paranoia, consumerism, all of it delivered in sentences that take your breath away. ( )
  Elliot9 | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
The book is so funny, so mysterious, so right, so disturbing … and yet so enjoyable it has somehow survived being cut open for twenty-five years by critics and post-grads. All of that theoretical poking and prodding, all of that po-mo-simulacra-ambiguity vivisection can’t touch the thrill of reading it
''White Noise,'' his eighth novel, is the story of a college professor and his family whose small Midwestern town is evacuated after an industrial accident. In light of the recent Union Carbide disaster in India that killed over 2,000 and injured thousands more, ''White Noise'' seems all the more timely and frightening - precisely because of its totally American concerns, its rendering of a particularly American numbness.
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The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus.
"The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear". Jack to Babette when talking about genetically engineered micro-organisms that would digest the 'airborne toxic event'.
"The airborne toxic event is a horrifying thing. Our fear is enormous. Even if there hasn't been great loss of life, don't we deserve some attention for our suffering, our human worry, our terror? Isn't fear news?" Television carrying man's speech when the family is stranded in Iron City.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140077022, Paperback)

Better than any book I can think of, White Noise captures the particular strangeness of life in a time where humankind has finally learned enough to kill itself. Naturally, it's a terribly funny book, and the prose is as beautiful as a sunset through a particulate-filled sky. Nice-guy narrator Jack Gladney teaches Hitler Studies at a small college. His wife may be taking a drug that removes fear, and one day a nearby chemical plant accidentally releases a cloud of gas that may be poisonous. Writing before Bhopal and Prozac entered the popular lexicon, DeLillo produced a work so closely tuned into its time that it tells the future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:07 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Jack Gladney, a professor of Nazi history at a Middle American liberal arts school, and his family comically try to handle normal family life as a black cloud of lethal gaseous fumes threatens their town.

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