The Silence — Latest Read

Just finished The Silence by Don DeLillo. I had read a number of articles that recommended DeLillo as a contemporary author worth reading. From what I could see, I would probably disagree with DeLillo’s world view and perspectives, I think it is good to challenge yourself with well-written books. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am also trying to add more books that people are currently reading and talking about to my reading mix. So when I saw this recently released novel by DeLillo, I added it to my “Want to Read” list.

Unfortunately, it was not a great place to start. It feels lazy and contrived. It paints a picture of a world where people are totally reliant on technology to confirm their existence. Nothing else is important or relevant. No one takes responsibility for having caused or put themselves in the situation they face. No one takes action to deal with it. Unlike De. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, DeLillo doesn’t seem to believe that “life finds a way.”

Many of the editorial reviews of The Silence were effusive. Much the same for reader reviews. Some, even fans of DeLillo, seemed to have read the same book I did and rated it a misfire. Not sure I will put one of his earlier works on the shelf, but let me know if you have read one that you think is worth looking at.


  1. DeLillo’s been on my radar for a while, but I’ve yet to get around to him. Thomas Pynchon, whose entire œuvre I have consumed with considerable pleasure, is DeLillo’s near-contemporary, and I regard Gravity’s Rainbow as one of the greatest novels written in English during the XX century, although I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone hitherto unacquainted with the writer. His second and shortest novel, The Crying of Lot 49, is usually cited as the Pynchon “gateway drug,” but I think his most recent book, Bleeding Edge (2013), makes for a pretty good introduction. And Mason & Dixon is quite marvelous, the XVIII century diction employed in the narrative proving, surprisingly, no obstacle at all.

    Among novels published in this century I particularly esteem Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy, and in particular the first volume; William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central (although it could have used some judicious editorial pruning); and Francis Spufford’s extraordinary Red Plenty, although this is not, strictly speaking, a novel, or at least not “merely” a novel: a lively and informative discussion of the work can be found here at the “Crooked Timber” blog.

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