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White Noise (Penguin Great Books of the 20th…
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White Noise (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) (original 1985; edition 1999)

by Don DeLillo

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8,737119564 (3.78)1 / 315
Member:kmengeranderson
Title:White Noise (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)
Authors:Don DeLillo
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1999), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985)

  1. 30
    Crash by J. G. Ballard (ateolf)
  2. 10
    Blindness by José Saramago (chrisharpe)
  3. 21
    Ubik by Philip K. Dick (ateolf)
  4. 11
    Underworld by Don DeLillo (David_Cain)
    David_Cain: Everything good in White Noise is better in Underworld
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English (115)  Finnish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (118)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
How long must a book have been published before it is considered a Classic? It is certainly a tall order to ask. I do feel that 30 years should be a good standard. With a deep understanding of "Modern" American Culture, De Lillo perfectly encapsulates the times that we live in. It is also funny, sometimes ridiculously so.

White Noise is the story of an average American Family and how they respond to an "Airborne Toxic Event." Jack Gladney is a college professor that specializes in Hitler. With his fourth wife and the kids that live with him, they live through the event, which seems to be a manifestation of the fears impressed upon people by technology and society. The oldest boy says it the best in the book. We have all of these modern conveniences and knowledge, but what good is any of it really? Were we to go back in time to the Middle Ages, could we even create fire? Could we, with our modern knowledge, help out people suffering from the Bubonic Plague or other terrible diseases? Could we explain to Newton that his corpuscular theory of light is both correct and incorrect? Heinrich (the oldest boy) avers that we could not.

With a wry wit and scintillating conversations, the characters leap off of the page. With our reliance on technology and being force-fed information, this book sounds more prescient by the page. It truly gripped my attention for the entire time I read it, which doesn't really happen all the time.

I wonder if anything else by De Lillo is like this. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
I was disappointed in this book. It's the first I've read from DeLillo, but since it was raved about for so long, I had high hopes. I think maybe when it came out nearly 35 years ago, it was amazing and fresh. In ways, it reminded me of the movie Clerks or a number of other Indie movies from that time - ridiculous dialogue that people would never actually have, but funny nonetheless. Here though, I think as with many works of literature and art, the works it inspired built upon the foundation of the original to create something better. ( )
  Sean191 | Mar 13, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Mar 2010):
- So I'm left somewhere between ambivalence and scorn. Let's call it dismissiveness. Is this book really so bad? Did I not focus enough on his messages?
- If I have one axe to grind with this author it is this: His excessiveness in trying to imprint his themes (fear of death, simulated reality, consumerism etal) subjugates whatever story he was trying to tell. I could overlook the absence of an engaging plot if the characterizations were engaging. Were they? NO. Jack Gladney comes across as a gelatinous mass, Babette an utter bimbo, and Heinrich no more than an obnoxious (and totally unbelievable) little ass. Murray and his New Yorker pals were entertaining on some level, and the regretfully brief visit by f-i-l Vernon is nicely drawn, but that's it. And I'll just eat my thoughts on the dialogue. ("It is the essence of Babette" -gag)
- And as to humor, ...I chuckled a few times in the first 100 pages. Afterwards? Zilch. I wanted to like this, and did in spots, but it became a mundane chore by the ending. ( )
1 vote ThoughtPolice | Oct 19, 2018 |
I thought this book was very amusing. ( )
  nheredia05 | Jun 12, 2018 |
It was good while it lasted. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (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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To Sue Buck and to Lois Wallace
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The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus.
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"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 try to handle normal family life as a black cloud of lethal gaseous fumes threatens their town.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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