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Point Omega

by Don DeLillo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1794516,719 (3.26)34
Three unusual people--"defense intellectual" Richard Elster, who was involved in the management of the country's war machine; young documentary filmmaker Jim Finley, who is intent on documenting Elster's experience; and Elster's daughter Jessica, who behaves like an "otherworldly" woman from New York--train their binoculars on the desert landscape of California and build an odd, tender intimacy, something like a family. Then a devastating event throws everything into question.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
The work of highly successful artists is often described in the work's place in time relative to the artist's career. Thus you have early Picasso, late-period Beethoven. Sometimes the word vintage is employed as in, "*Jaws* is vintage Speilberg…" Writers seem to fare less well than their non-literary counterparts as their careers mature. Late-period Beethoven could be summed up by terms masterful, exquisite and revolutionary. Picasso never stopped innovating and only in very old age, right at the end, did he struggle and fail. My perception is that writers seldom get a glittering third act. Maybe time and further reading will prove me wrong. DeLillo seems to have the reputation of the artist whose best work is strictly in the rear-view mirror. I don't agree.

Centered on a trio of characters, this novella seems to vibrate with what must be a distinct Delilloness. I felt it in *White Noise* and I felt it here in this compact story of an experimental filmmaker (whose career it seems will never have a second act, let alone a late-period/vintage/revolutionary phase); a fading, retired military scholar — the intended subject of the filmmaker's new project; and the scholar's disturbed daughter. My overall impression is much the same as it was for *White Noise*. Somehow I sense that DeLillo is playing three-dimensional chess, and while I might be stuck playing checkers, I can feel the genius in his work. I will leave in-depth interpretation of the book up to readers more familiar with his entire body of work. All I can offer is an assertion that whatever skill you can identify on the page is just the tip of the iceberg. The uneasy, almost other-worldly quality and the characters which practically slip from the page they are so alive attest to much more going on than meets the eye.

If anything, reading this short work convinces me that DeLillo deserves a full hearing, that I owe it to him and to myself to read all his books. I started *Underworld* as a teenager, loved it even then, but stopped for whatever reasons. Let's blame it on the hormones. *Mao* and *Libra* have been on my (virtual) shelf forever. I will now try to make my way through the entire heap. I can't offer a higher recommendation than to say it makes me want to read more. ( )
  MichaelDavidMullins | Oct 17, 2023 |
This is a novel which enjoyed but might not be as appreciated by many other readers. This is the first book of DeLillo I have read although I have many, but not all, of his other works. It is very short (117 pp) and closer to a novella than a full length novel. It takes place in near the Salton Sea in Southern California which is a desolate area near a body of water of high saline content. The four characters are interesting but hardly convincing. One is a Bush administration Neocon apparently working on a general rationale for the invasion of Iraq. This happens to be the central character of the book. In reality there were no ultimate rationales for the war just an excuse to wage a war without fear of losing it. Men and women in uniform being expendable in reality and an acceptable loss on strategic terms. War schemers untouched by the reality of human death and amputated bodies. The book deals with a videographer who tries to document one of the unseen architects of the war (Richard Elster) as he retreated from the terrorist renditions that followed upon it. Lots of MIT & CAL Tech ruminations which culminate in Elster's own arrival at an Omega Point of Cosmic Consciousness which strangely wills to destroy itself. The Omega Point was an old idea from Teihard de Chardin where all of creation converges with the human mind in a super-consciousness. This new entity was God. This was considered by de Chardin as a mysticism of science, at least from the Jesuit point of view. Teihard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest. Elster in turn reshapes that theology into a Heideggerian flavored nihilism. For me, this novel is a chance for the author to try out some new ideas which may or may not work in some future novel. I was impressed by the book although knowing that few others would see the same value as I had, especially women. Delillo develops his own ideas of the the nature of the present temporal now, what is consciousness, and can personal subjectivity be so affected by experience that personhood itself is altered. No answers here, but only the recognition that aging and personal loss can force an examination of one's past actions and motivations. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Sep 16, 2023 |
Point Omega is an extremely short novel (only 117 pages) with very little action. Most of the book is either conversations amongst the characters or the inner musings of their minds. Consequently, I often found myself momentarily pausing in my reading, pondering upon what the characters were thinking about. At times,it almost felt I was musing right along with them. An interesting, and in that sense, quite unique reading experience... ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
I'll give Don Delillo $50 if he writes something that's not about a writer, professor, or otherwise creative person. ( )
  3Oranges | Jun 24, 2023 |
The real point omega is- damn the Iraq war was fucked up and america needs to not exist ( )
  bluestraveler | Aug 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
So many have projected upon DeLillo a notion of his fiction as 20th-century prophecy, his books as paranoia redeemed by real events. It’s no shock, then, to find him in this new century transfixed by slowness and continental drift, places where events are perpetual, but invisible. Elster has retreated to a landscape to ponder an endpoint where consciousness is transcended and “we pass completely out of being. Stones.” Unfortunately, the concept of DeLillo as a passive desert rock is far less compelling than when he’s demanding we see what’s underneath them.
Although Mr. DeLillo extracts considerable suspense from his story, while building a Pinteresque sense of dread, there is something suffocating and airless about this entire production. Unlike the people in his most memorable novels, the three characters here do not live in a recognizable America or recognizable reality — rather, they feel like roles written for a stylized and highly contrived theater piece... They are roles desperately in need of actors to flesh them out and give them life.
Don DeLillo's Point Omega is a hard book to critique because it is chock-full of brilliance and ought to be supported simply because we need books that allow humanity to think about the condition of being human. But, in fact, Point Omega's excess of thought and brilliance is its biggest problem. Slight though it may be, the book totters under the burden of its complexity.
While I'll always admire DeLillo, I don't think I've enjoyed reading him since the rightly famous opening of 1997's Underworld. Since then it's been too much medicine and not enough sugar. Maybe that's the point. Maybe DeLillo is arguing that our prediabetic asses don't deserve any more sweets, no respite from our well-earned sufferings. He wouldn't be the first prophet, or novelist, to have said as much.

The problem with this position is that it doesn't leave much incentive to read him.
added by Shortride | editEsquire, Benjamin Alsup (Feb 1, 2010)
"Point Omega" is a splendid, fierce novel by a deep practitioner of the form.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
DeLillo, Donprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mikolášková, LucieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Three unusual people--"defense intellectual" Richard Elster, who was involved in the management of the country's war machine; young documentary filmmaker Jim Finley, who is intent on documenting Elster's experience; and Elster's daughter Jessica, who behaves like an "otherworldly" woman from New York--train their binoculars on the desert landscape of California and build an odd, tender intimacy, something like a family. Then a devastating event throws everything into question.

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Plus énigmatique que n'importe quel secret-défense , plus assourdissant que le fracas des guerres , ce roman en forme d'arrêt sur image édicte la sidération du signe face à la langue impitoyablement étrangère que , depuis les origines , profère la matière qui donne forme à l'univers .
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