Friday, 28 January 2011
Title: White Noise
Author: Don Delillo
Number of pages: 326
Started: 23 January 2011
Finished: 28 January 2011
The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus. In single file they eased around the orange I-beam sculpture and moved toward the dormitories. The roofs of the station wagons were loaded down with carefully secured suitcases full of light and heavy clothing; with boxes of blankets, boots and shoes, stationery and books, sheets, pillows, quilts; with rolled-up rugs and sleeping bags; with bicycles, skis, rucksacks, English and Western saddles, inflated rafts. As cars slowed to a crawl and stopped, students sprang out and raced to the rear doors to begin removing the objects inside; the stereo sets, radios, personal computers; small refrigerators and table ranges; the cartons of phonograph records and cassettes; the hairdryers and styling irons; the tennis rackets, soccer balls, hockey and lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows; the controlled substances, the birth control pills and devices; the jurik food still in shopping bags—onion-and-garlic chips, nacho thins, peanut creme patties, Waffelos and Kabooms, fruit chews and toffee popcorn; the Dum-Dum pops, the Mystic mints.
Read a longer excerpt here.
Jack Gladney, head of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill, is afraid of death, as is his wife Babette and his colleague Murray who runs a seminar on car crashes. The author exposes our common obsession with mortality, and Jack and Babette's biggest fear - who will die first?
What I thought:
This was a strange book. At times it was very readable and witty and at others, just a touch odd. This is the second Delillo book I have read and I much prefer it to the previous one, but the jury is still out on whether I like him as an author.
Delillo was good at writing abut family life and picking up on all of the bizarre and pointless arguments we often have with our families, but the book was also meant to be a take on modern life and whilst I kind of got it, I think some of the nuances passed me by. That might tell you more about how immersed I am in modern life than it does about the book though.