I dont really have a way of fact checking myself here but I feel these guys are always rejecting the post modernist label and instead aligning themselves with their modernist influences. Gass' 'decayed modernism' comes to mind
Oh, they definitely do that. Yeah. Nobody calls themselves a "postmodernist".
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I mentioned that O'Henry story where the guy wanders round asking everyone what a 'man about town' is or if they know such a person... then he gets knocked down by a carriage and wakes up in hospital... he reads the paper and it says how a local man about town has been hospitalised.
You could move the story a hundred years forward and have someone looking for a hipster. Not sure there is any world though in which anyone would be wandering round looking for a post-modernist.
 
@suspended Started The Names last night. It's interesting reading DeLillo before he becomes "DeLillo" entirely. The characters still speak relatively normally at times. He isn't at the every-sentence-an-aphorism stage yet.
 

suspended

Well-known member
@suspended Started The Names last night. It's interesting reading DeLillo before he becomes "DeLillo" entirely. The characters still speak relatively normally at times. He isn't at the every-sentence-an-aphorism stage yet.
Is that the trajectory? I've read very little—Underworld, End Zone, The Names—but my understanding is End Zone is his second novel, and it's just riddled with that kinda stuff. College football players talking like they just got briefed by NATO officials on the strategic considerations of nuclear standoff.
 
Is that the trajectory? I've read very little—Underworld, End Zone, The Names—but my understanding is End Zone is his second novel, and it's just riddled with that kinda stuff. College football players talking like they just got briefed by NATO officials on the strategic considerations of nuclear standoff.
Maybe it isn't as neat as that then. Cosmopolis and Point Omega are post-Underworld and the dialogue is DeLillo at his most DeLillo. The conversations in The Names aren't quite as odd. They're more... conversational. The characters still feel as though they're talking to one another.
 

polystyle

Well-known member
"There once was a Don DiLillo..."

Great Jones Street was good enough to try some of the others.
White Noise ? Like most of the comments above , too smarty to party.
Underworld .... oh men. Coulda, shoulda condensed it down to a few lines.
The last two ? Special K er whatever and Silence .Tried, really tried.
But as also said above , they brought a vision of the guy reading his stuff and what - wanking over it ?

The first excerpt run in some mag like Vanity Fair or so - just so bad.

Like Wm Glibson's last 6 - or was it more , nothing happening here, move on !
 
End this pseudery and give us your take on The Names, coward
It feels much fresher than White Noise. The conversations also make much more sense coming from bankers, risk analysts and government contractors than they do from some of the characters in his other books, e.g. Gladney's kids in White Noise. The dinner scenes read a bit like the restaurant scenes in American Psycho.

The Greek guy's point about Americans only being taught about places once they fall into crisis sounds about right,

"I think its only in a crisis that Americans see other people. It has to be an American crisis, of course. If two countries fight that do not supply the Americans with some precious commodity, then the education of the public does not take place. But when the dictator falls, when the oil is threatened, then you turn on the television and they tell you where the country is, what the language is, how to pronounce the names of the leaders, what the religion is all about, and maybe you can cut out recipes in the newspaper of Persian dishes. I will tell you. The whole world takes an interest in this curious way Americans educate themselves. TV. Look, this is Iran, this is Iraq. Let us pronounce the word correctly. E-ron. E-ronians. This is a Sunni, this is a Shi'ite. Very good. Next year we do the Philippine Islands, okay?"

He's still writing about America, he always is, but it's interesting to read something of his set outside its borders and taking more of an interest in how it appears from the outside. It's also got a bit of that Sweat, Dust & Whisky thing to it too. Middle-aged Americans abroad, drinking on hot, sticky nights.
 
The emphasis on letters and language rather than what's actually being said immediately calls to mind McLuhan. There's that older guy running the archaeological digs who says he doesn't care what's actually being communicated on the stones he finds because it's usually just bookkeeping and what's really important to him is the letters themselves, the shape of them, how they were carved.

I've read a few interviews with DeLillo where he's said that was something which took hold of his writing from The Names onward. He's since paid particularly close attention to how the letters look on the page and chooses words and sentences accordingly.



"What do you find on the stones, Owen, that's so intriguing?"

He stretched his body, easing into an answer.

"At first, years ago, I think it was mainly a question of history and philology. The stones spoke. It was a form of conversation with ancient people. It was also riddle-solving to a certain degree. To decipher, to uncover secrets, to trace the geography of language in a sense. In my current infatuation I think I've abandoned scholarship and much of the interest I once had in earlier cultures. What the stones say, after all, is often routine stuff. Inventories, land sale contracts, grain payments, records of commodities, so many cows, so many sheep. I'm not an expert on the origin of writing but it seems to be the case that the first writing was motivated by a desire to keep accounts. Palace accounts, temple accounts. Bookkeeping."

"And now?"

"Now I've begun to see a mysterious importance in the letters as such, the blocks of characters. The tablet at Ras Shamrah said nothing. It was inscribed with the alphabet itself. I find this is all I want to know about the people who lived there. The shapes of their letters and the material they used. Fire-hardened clay, dense black basalt, marble with a ferrous content. These things I lay my hands against, feel where the words have been cut. And the eye takes in those beautiful shapes. So strange and reawakening. It goes deeper than conversations, riddles."
 
I thought of Prynne, reading that. He's often so opaque you end up focusing on the words themselves, how they look and sound, how they're arranged on the page. That picture of his notes on the shape of one of his poems made an impression,

 

suspended

Well-known member
Glad you like it! I feel similarly, it's up there with the Underworld prologue. Love the Greek mezas, the stretching taverna dinners, boozy with hints of swinging and adultery. I'll pull out my copy and grab some favorite bits
 

suspended

Well-known member
I wrote a script for a film that Volterra directed. He was fast and inventive with an offhand manner toward the work and many ideas about film, the state of film, the meaning of film, the language of film. He spent a lot of time with us. We went to the movies and marched against the war. The two things were connected. The flag-tailored kids were connected, the streets were connected, the music, the marijuana. I stopped smoking grass when the war ran down.
He was full of comic sorrows, self-dramatizing impulses, wasted-looking in a way that marked a style more than a set of depressing circumstances, and he seemed most content with himself cursing the chill mist that blew across the hills.
 

suspended

Well-known member
There's no denying his effect on Kathryn. He stood outside her measures of a person's worth. He made her laugh, she sparked to him. The sweet mean narrow face, the uncombed hair. He was a genuine talent, a commitment, the one person whose excesses and personas she needed to indulge. It was bracing to have one's principles challenged. It clarified her vision of things, to be able to defend him to herself, this man who would sit with her in a restaurant on a redwood deck and recount in earnest deadpan detail the methods and bents, the hand-grips of some woman he'd lately spent a night with. The exception was valid if it was large enough.
He liked to turn up unexpectedly and made it hard for people to reach him when they wanted to. He lived in borrowed apartments much of the time. Already he was building tunnels in and out. Our feelings for him were sometimes deflected because of this. Long periods went by. We'd hear he was out of the country, underground, back east. Then he'd show up, hunched against the night, moving through the door in a half prowl, nodding, touched to see us looking much the same. A glancing love.
All these have been about the Volterra character. Good articulation of an archetype, the type of guy who still has a flip phone, doesn't have an Instagram. A Richard Katz type.
 

suspended

Well-known member
He rarely supported his arguments or views. The first sound of contention sent him into deep retreat. Kathryn knew this, of course, and moved protectively to other subjects, always ready to attend to his well-being.
It is funny though, I like these passages' prose and I also sorta hate them? Maybe just because I tried to write this way in college, something about the associations. Or maybe something deeper.
 
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