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Libra (1988)

by Don DeLillo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,230383,008 (3.86)124
From the author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and Zero K In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped. A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche.… (more)
  1. 00
    On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison (daveowen78)
    daveowen78: A bit nutty and certainly from the conspiracy theory end of the spectrum. I am not sure how credible the author is. Never the less very interesting, and indeed fairly frightening if there is even a shred of truth to this government cover up take on the JFK assassination.… (more)
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» See also 124 mentions

English (36)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
i'm a libra ( )
  stravinsky | Dec 28, 2020 |
After reading three of Don DeLillo's novels, I'm still not sure what to think of him. Libra is the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination. Since there continues to be uncertainty about these events and as DeLillo in no way presents Libra to be historically accurate, I would classify it as alternate history rather than historical fiction. While I don' t view myself as a big fan of alternate history, I have found I like it when it is done well as I tend to like almost anything when done well. For instance, Phillip Roth's A Plot Against America comes to mind.

Libra is certainly done well in my opinion. With so many questions and theories about these events, DeLillo's approach removes the bonds of everything else that has been written and allows the reader to imagine events in a way that feels unencumbered, which you would not think possible with events that are so well known. Certainly the story seems to stay within the bounds of what is known, but leaves individual motivations, individual actions and various interactions unstated and unclear enough to allow the reader to pursue numerous possible angles. And yet, in the end we are left with the possibility that one character, Osward, has less control over the actual events than we might have supposed but more control than we realized over how history would perceive those events. I will give DeLillo this much credit: he makes me think. ( )
1 vote afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
See the truth and know it, if you can.

It's easy to see why David Foster Wallace - or, indeed, anybody - likes Don DeLillo: his dense, lingually contorted novels leave a stronghold on one's mind beyond the fact. In my case, I seldom remember the plots, but I can remember certain scenes or feelings invoked, mainly as few authors have managed both in the same way before.

It's less about the contents and more about a general sentiment.

Workmen carried lanterns along adjacent tracks. He kept a watch for sewer rats. A tenth of a second was all it took to see a thing complete. Then the express stations, the creaky brakes, people bunched like refugees. They came wagging through the doors, banged against the rubber edges, inched their way in, were quickly pinned, looking out past the nearest heads into that practiced oblivion.

As the book states, this is about the Kennedy assassination. Oswald was a Libra. Does he buy into the whole Oswald-did-it-thing? Does anybody care?

There is political intrigue here. Language snakes around as a man hits the person he's romantically entangled with, which turned me into near-vomit; one of the fores of DeLillo's strengths are how he can describe dramatic detail with few words and yet, together with the use of idiomatic expressions in dialogue, refrain from sounding tart or obtuse.

She saw him from a distance even when he was hitting her. He was never fully there.

Yes yes yes yes. God is alive and well in Texas.

Paragraphs turn into short stories at times:

“I’ll tell you a good sign,” Lee said. “I order the handgun in January, I order the rifle in March. Both guns arrive the same day. My wife would say it’s fate.” “What did you tell her about tonight?” “She thinks I’m at typing class. I dropped out of typing class two weeks ago. I got fired from my job last Saturday was my last day.”

“I have the primitive fear,” Ferrie said. “All my fears are primitive. It’s the limbic system of the brain. I’ve got a million years of terror stored up in there.” He wore a crushed sun hat, the expressive brows like clown paint over his eyes. He handed Wayne the rifle. They watched him walk to the lopsided dock and climb into the skiff.

All in all, I really got into this book around the 350-page mark. Was it worth it? Yes. ( )
  pivic | Mar 20, 2020 |
Felt like I tore through this with the inability to put it down for more than a few minutes before wanting to get back to it. An engaging re-telling of a well worn tale, located somewhere between Ellroy's American Tabloid and Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49. Like bubble gum with vitamins and antioxidants; healthy but with a whopping good time attached. Riding along on narrative momentum with occasional rest stops of brilliant social analysis.

Libra was on my "to read" list for a long time.
So happy to have finally experienced it. ( )
  23Goatboy23 | Jan 17, 2020 |
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To the boys at 607: Tony, Dick and Ron
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This was the year he rode the subway to the ends of the city, two hundred miles of track.
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From the author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and Zero K In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped. A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141188227, 0141041994

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