Monday, June 1, 2009

What's in your wallet? Pedantry!

Current book: White Noise
Pages read: 99-271

Well, the novel improves a little as it progresses simply because of the fact that something happens. There's a huge chemical spill in the town where Gladney and his family live, and they're forced to evacuate to the local Boy Scout camp, which is quickly contaminated as well, and afterward, to a nearby town. I thought it was going to be exciting and cause actual plot to occur, but they just wait around for a week and half and go home. Afterward, Gladney and his daughter discover that Babette, the family's mother, has been taking an experimental drug. It turns out she slept with the experimenter to get him to give it to her, and its entire purpose is to alleviate the fear of death in the human psyche. She stops taking it because it's ineffective and causes patchy memory loss, but Gladney's becoming obsessed with taking it himself and the ramifications of being unafraid of death.

I don't know where I got the impression that this was a science fiction novel, but I was obviously mistaken. Nothing remotely science fiction-y has happened, unless you call a vaguely futuristic setting and some unexplained illnesses science fiction. (I don't. You might have gathered.) It's still pedantic and obnoxious as well, and is trying too hard to make a point that would be better expressed in a subtle fashion. Yes, there's a toxic cloud of consumerism that poisons the American public daily, but do you have to make a ridiculous and obvious symbol of it, DeLillo? If you do have to, could you at least make the plot interesting or the characters compelling?

This novel won the National Book Award, and I just don't know how. I guess it got "cutting social satire" points. That's all it's got going for it. The obnoxious writing certainly shouldn't have merited such an honor:
"It isn't that she doesn't cherish life; it's being left alone that frightens her. The emptiness, the sense of cosmic darkness.

MasterCard, Visa, American Express.

I tell her I want to die first." (100)
Augh! Who likes this stuff?

No comments:

Post a Comment


A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)