White Noise by Don DeLillo, (Bowie's Top 100 for June)

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White Noise by Don DeLillo, (Bowie's Top 100 for June)

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1Berly
Redigerat: maj 30, 2016, 7:13pm

Megan and Kim are continuing their monthly Boweis's Top 100 read in June with:



Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. This is the story of his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an 'Airborne Toxic Event' and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear - his own mortality. White Noise is an effortless combination of social satire and metaphysical dilemma in which DeLillo exposes our rampant consumerism, media saturation and novelty intellectualism. It captures the particular strangeness of life lived when the fear of death cannot be denied, repressed or obscured and ponders the role of the family in a time when the very meaning of our existence is under threat.

2Berly
Redigerat: maj 30, 2016, 7:11pm

David Bowie's Top 100 Reads:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner--January ✔ ✔
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote -- February ✔ ✔
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters -- March ✔ ✔
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima -- April ✔ ✔
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman -- May ✔ ✔
White Noise by Don DeLillo -- reading in June

Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Room At The Top by John Braine
On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
City Of Night by John Rechy
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Iliad by Homer
Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
David Bomberg by Richard Cork
Blast by Wyndham Lewis
Passing by Nella Larson
Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
McTeague by Frank Norris
Money by Martin Amis
The Outsider by Colin Wilson
Strange People by Frank Edwards
English Journey by J.B. Priestley
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
1984 by George Orwell
The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
Beano (comic, ’50s)
Raw (comic, ’80s)
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
The Street by Ann Petry
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
The Bridge by Hart Crane
All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Teenage by Jon Savage
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Viz (comic, early ’80s)
Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
Inferno by Dante Alighieri
A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

3LovingLit
maj 30, 2016, 10:00pm

>1 Berly: beautiful covers! I am looking forward to experiencing this one again...the edition I will be reading is the Penguin 25th Anniversary edition. It's beautiful *drool* (I'll put up a pic when I am on a bette computer)
It has an introduction by Richard Powers, which I will read seeing as I have already read the book. I feel like it might add a lot to a second reading.

4Berly
maj 30, 2016, 10:48pm

>3 LovingLit: Megan-- I can't wait to see your cover and, no pressure, but I am expecting lots of great insight since this is your second go round! ; )

5Crazymamie
maj 31, 2016, 9:42am

I have requested it from the library, so we'll see if I get it in time to join in.

6charl08
maj 31, 2016, 12:52pm

Me also.

7Berly
maj 31, 2016, 4:02pm

Me three!! As long as no one renews their copy I should get one very soon.

8LovingLit
maj 31, 2016, 6:57pm



Here is my pretty book. It has fold over into the inside cardboard edge bits (which I am sure there is a name for), and deckle edges. Mmmmm, deckle edges ;)

9Crazymamie
maj 31, 2016, 7:11pm

*swoon* That's the Penguin Deluxe Classics edition.

10LovingLit
maj 31, 2016, 7:25pm

^ I know :)
It is second hand from the US, but it somehow ended up in an op shop here, and I was able to nab it for $2!!!

11Crazymamie
maj 31, 2016, 7:26pm

Oh. My. Word. That is SO fabulous!

12Berly
jun 1, 2016, 1:44am

Oooh!! Envious. Love that cover. And the deckled edges. And the whatever-you-call-it-fold-over covers.

13charl08
jun 1, 2016, 2:48am

>10 LovingLit: That's a nifty deal right there. Very nice.

14LovingLit
jun 2, 2016, 11:46pm

Thanks for the book-love people :)
I'm right in my element here, I have shown that book to RL people and not got nearly as enthusiastic a response!!

15LovingLit
jun 5, 2016, 3:19am

I read the essay introduction (to the 25th annivsary Panguin edition), it has set me up to get going. So I got going. It was impossible to resist.....I only read the first few chapters and I think I am in love.
I love this book.

16laytonwoman3rd
jun 5, 2016, 4:50pm

>8 LovingLit: I think those are just called cover flaps....but I love 'em.

17LovingLit
jun 6, 2016, 7:45pm

>16 laytonwoman3rd: Aaaah. A tad anti-climactic, but you can't argue with the facts ;)

I have decided to slow down with White Noise so that others can catch up....to help me with this I startedNot my Father's Son by Alan Cumming, seeing as it has been raved about around here.

18laytonwoman3rd
jun 6, 2016, 10:37pm

>17 LovingLit: Sorry it wasn't more exciting. I suppose we could hold a little conference and try to come up with an imaginative name ourselves!

I just started Not My Father's Son on audio...it's a bit "yeah, yeah...I've heard all this before" so far. But I do enjoy listening to his voice!

19Crazymamie
jun 7, 2016, 6:24am

Okay. I picked up my copy from the library yesterday - it's not nearly as pretty as Megan's. *sob*

20LovingLit
jun 7, 2016, 8:08pm

>19 Crazymamie: I'm truly sorry to hear that, Mamie. You have my condolences.
Would now be a good time to talk about how I sometimes just pick up my copy and stroke it?.....no? OK, Ill bring it up again later ;)

21Crazymamie
jun 7, 2016, 9:56pm

*pouts a bit*

22Berly
jun 8, 2016, 3:03am

At least you both have a copy!! I am 10th on the library list. I see a purchase in my future....

23LovingLit
jun 8, 2016, 4:59am

>21 Crazymamie: aw, sorry Mamie. Don't forget, our books all have the same words!
:)

24charl08
Redigerat: jun 8, 2016, 5:56am

Mine is not here yet either. Harumph.

I tried to see if I could track down the essay about it above >15 LovingLit: but instead entered the world of online student cribs. Hey ho.

ETA: Found it! http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/541354/white-noise-by-don-delillo/excerpt

25LovingLit
jun 8, 2016, 5:59am

>24 charl08: nice detective work!

26Crazymamie
jun 8, 2016, 7:59am

>23 LovingLit: Yes, but I am shallow.

28weird_O
jun 8, 2016, 10:17am

Good book, White Noise. I shan't be joining you in reading it, for I read it several years ago. My mind runs such that I would have scheduled this read in December, when DeLillo is the honoree in Mark's American Author Challenge. He (DeLillo) is a favorite. I'm saving a couple of short novels--The Body Artist and Falling Man--for December reading.

Happt reading, y'all; I'll be rootin' for yas.

29LovingLit
jun 11, 2016, 4:53pm

>22 Berly: how's that purchasing going? ;)

30Crazymamie
jun 11, 2016, 5:40pm

I have read the first twenty chapters, and I am loving it.

31LovingLit
Redigerat: jun 12, 2016, 12:36am

Twenty chapters!?
*rushes for book to see about said chapters as hadn't noticed there were chapters*

Wow! There are chapters. How did I miss that? I'm thinking I may have already said to much in this post to regain any kind of credibility, but, I'm going to try.

I am just past chapter 20, just into book II (which is nearly half way through the book for those of you following along). So not far past Mamie...and I am loving it too!

I like all the description and the nuances of everyday life laid out like they are. I notice the details too, so I guess I can relate to his style in that sense. I know others have criticised his writing for going on and on about mundane things, but I love it :)

Eta: and, Mamie, you will be pleased to hear that the deckle edges make it very hard to flick through the pages, like for example, if you are looking for if there are chapters or not :)

32Crazymamie
jun 12, 2016, 7:42am

I adore deckled edge pages. They make me giddy. *blinks*

I find it interesting that all of the chapters are pretty short except for chapter 21, which comprises the whole of book II. And I also love the talk of mundane things because that is exactly what happens when people talk - they get off subject or are talking about different things at the same times. It rings real to me. The only part so far that REALLY got on my nerves was the discussion between Babette and Jack in chapter 7 that starts, "What do you want to do?" This read like Hemingway wrote the dialogue, and made me cringe because Hemingway is so bad at dialogue between men and women in a relationship.

This book is filled with quotable passages that speak to me -my book darts are getting a workout.

33charl08
jun 12, 2016, 9:54am

Harumph. My copy still hasn't turned up at the library.
*sits in the corner with arms folded*

34LovingLit
jun 13, 2016, 6:51am

>32 Crazymamie: book darts! I need me some book darts, stat.

That section of dialogue irritated me too, I just wanted someone (anyone) to make a decision. Or, what would have been more likely, someone to get frustrated and roll over and read their (not necessarily saucy) book in a huff!

>33 charl08: no fair! What if you call them every day and ask, would that help?

35Crazymamie
jun 13, 2016, 8:08am

Okay. I finished it. So I LOVED the first book, thought the second book was a bit of a slog with some good parts, but the third book was my least favorite - felt like all the charm and wit from the beginning of the book had been sucked out of the pages. BUT, then the ending saved it for me - I loved the ending. I almost feel like chapter 40 was unnecessary - still mulling that over. Perhaps chapter 39 would have been the cleaner exit. But then you wouldn't get the supermarket part, which was so great. SO maybe just cut out Wilder on the tricycle - that was weird, I thought.

36Crazymamie
jun 13, 2016, 8:10am

>33 charl08: Oh, Charlotte! Major bummer!

And I love the book darts - I just have to remember to take them out of library books before I return them. One time I realized I had left them in when I returned the book, and I went back the next day to retrieve them - luckily, the book was sitting right there on the shelf, all my book darts intact.

37laytonwoman3rd
jun 13, 2016, 11:06am

I love book darts. I love deckle edges. But the two are sort of incompatible...

38Crazymamie
jun 13, 2016, 11:18am

No, they aren't. But you do have to work a bit harder than if the pages were just ordinary ones. I think it is totally worth the effort for the giddiness that the deckled edge pages bring to me.

39LovingLit
jun 13, 2016, 3:38pm

>38 Crazymamie: giddiness :) :) :) :) :)

Yay, you are done! Congrats, I'll read the spoiler when I'm done. I'm on a go-slow for the others. But their books are....taking...so....long.... :|

40Crazymamie
jun 13, 2016, 4:22pm



I was thoughtless and gobbled mine right up without waiting for the others to be served.

41LovingLit
jun 14, 2016, 5:05am

>40 Crazymamie: you are forgiven! (if I am too)
;)

42Crazymamie
jun 14, 2016, 9:27am

Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

So I broke down and purchased my very own copy because I know I will read it again. I got the same one as you, except I didn't get it for $2. It's lovely.

43LovingLit
jun 14, 2016, 8:55pm

>42 Crazymamie: Congratulations!!! :)


44charl08
jun 15, 2016, 2:39pm

It came in to the library this afternoon. At last!

45Crazymamie
jun 15, 2016, 4:15pm


Hooray!! Hooray, Charlotte!

>43 LovingLit: Thank you, Megan!

46LovingLit
jun 15, 2016, 8:05pm

So, just to recap, me and Mamie both love this book.

Anyone else yet? I am still saving the second half, but based on my first reading of it many years ago, and the fact that it is practically the book that turned me from a non-reader into a (hard core fanatical) reader, I am going to say I will enjoy the second half too.

47charl08
jun 17, 2016, 7:27am

I've just started. Nice turn of phrase!

48Berly
jun 20, 2016, 1:26am

No library copy yet...not that I have had time to read!! I may have to BUY it...! ; )

49charl08
jun 20, 2016, 1:44am

I thought I was missing the point, so I read the essay. I am missing the point! I'm not so good with satire. Tends to need big flashing signs and a Captain Obvious badge for me to get it.

50LovingLit
jun 20, 2016, 3:57am

>48 Berly: humph.

>49 charl08: it's a pretty light satire though. Don't you think? It just feels to me like it's taking the mickey out of society. Us, if you will. I'm generally not great with satire either.

51Berly
jun 21, 2016, 12:33am

Bought it!! : ) No deckled pages. : (

52LovingLit
jun 22, 2016, 1:20am

>51 Berly: but, overall..... :) !!!!!!

53charl08
jun 22, 2016, 3:43am

>50 LovingLit: I felt he was making points about society that I didn't really appreciate/ find clear in terms of the story. Just feel very embarrassed by it! It reminded me.of trying to read John Updike and just being bemused by it. At least this time I finished it...

54Berly
jun 22, 2016, 8:38pm

Just on chapter two and thanks to all your comments trying to pay attention to the satire.

I love that the Mom has instituted weekly TV nights in the hopes of making it largely uncool and thus not worth her kids time. Ha!! That doesn't work, I can tell you!!

And the main character has been advised by the chancellor to change his name and beef up his frame in order to be more of an authority figure with greater clout. How very shallow.

55Berly
jun 22, 2016, 10:04pm

How about this gem? "Kids are a true universal. But you're well beyond that, already beginning to drift, to feel estranged from the product you consume. Who are they designed for? What is your place in the marketing scheme? Once you're out of school it is only a matter of time before you experience the vast loneliness and dissatisfaction of consumers who have lost their group identity."

That's me!! Feeling very sad. : P

56LovingLit
jun 26, 2016, 6:25pm

I am so estranged from the product(s) I consume.
Isn't this ahead of its time? I wonder how he thinks of the world now, now that what he describes in the book is amplified beyond all proportion!!??

57LovingLit
jun 27, 2016, 5:12am

I am planning to read to completion tonight. The only thing that will thwart my plan is my lovely other coming home form his late meeting and trying to *disturb* me with conversation. That or heavy eyelids ;)

58Donna828
jun 27, 2016, 9:52am

I will finish White Noise today, too. It may take me awhile to organize my thoughts. Right now im mainly trying to decide iif the book is weird or brilliant!

59Crazymamie
jun 27, 2016, 10:35am

>58 Donna828: Ha! I know, right?!

60Donna828
jun 28, 2016, 11:24am

Hi Mamie, I think it was both! For the most part, I enjoyed it for what it was. I'll take the easy way out and copy the comments I posted on my thread. White Noise ended up with a 3.9 star rating from me.

"I realized the place was awash in noise. The toneless systems, the jangle and skid of carts, the loudspeaker and coffee-making machines, the cries of children. And over it all, or under it all, a dull and unlocateable roar, as of some form of swarming life just outside the range of human apprehension." (36)

What a bland cover! But there was nothing bland inside the pages of my old copy of White Noise. The quote refers to the supermarket where Jack Gladney seems to spend way too much time. With four growing children, I suppose one has to. The book was published in 1984, before the proliferation of Sam's Clubs and other mega stores. We do live in a noisy world, though much of it is by choice. When I'm alone in the house, the only sound is the very welcome hum of air conditioners and the occasional pecking away at my keyboard.

I think Delilo had a lot of fun with this satire on the social culture of our times. I wish he would update it to the frenzy of technology that has burst on the scene in the 26 years since the book came out. Now we have Facebook and other infinite ways to waste time on the World Wide Web which was just beginning its stranglehold on our attention back then. Wasteful consumerism and trivialities abound. Alienation and confusion are a way of life.

I think I liked this book…at least I can say that today. Who knows what I will think upon further reflection? Parts of it were fresh and fun while other parts were just plain tiresome. Talk, talk, talk. No wonder Jack had four wives and five marriages! I would want out if my DH rattled on the way he did with his family. There seemed to be no sense of purpose in the conversations about whether or not it was raining and other inane topics. The dialogue could have been taken from some of the funnier Sienfeld episodes about nothing. There was a lot of randomness, not only in the talk, but in the bits of advertisements, etc. that warranted space. I thought that was clever on his part. Who hasn't random thoughts that just pop into our heads without warning? Just for the record, mine wouldn't include a Datsun Maxima. I owned a Maxima in the 80s and it was a Nissan!

Of course, I get that this was a satiric social commentary. I loved the stabs at academia and the atheistic nuns were a hoot. This was a good book to get me out of my favorite comfort zones of realistic and historic fiction reading. The black cloud that hung over the middle section was great as it mirrored the black cloud of Fear of Death that hovered over the characters. I thought the end was over the top, but, maybe by then, I was ready to retreat to my purposeful and somewhat quiet life of reading and caring for my family.

61LovingLit
jun 28, 2016, 11:55pm

>60 Donna828: ooooh, nice thoughts. I wonder too how this book would look now, but I think it would almost be too much now. Then this kind of thought train (rampant consumerism, the busy-ness of life, administrative red tape etc) probably wasnt as part of the public conversation as it is now. The existential crisis stuff is and always has been something authors dwell on!

I am mere pages away from completing the book. My heavy eyelids won two nights in a row!

62LovingLit
jun 29, 2016, 9:01pm

^ make that three nights in a row! Gggrrr. Heavy eyelids.

63LovingLit
jun 30, 2016, 6:47pm


BOOK 38
White Noise by Don DeLillo (Bowie's top 100 list, reread)

Thanks to my poor memory, and that I first read this book over a decade ago, I was able to re-read this book and yet feel like it was my first time (bonus!!). This may actually be the book which turned me into a reader. I can't say why I absent-mindedly picked it off a friend's shelf and started it, I had had no inclination to ever do that with a book before- but it blew me away. The insights the author had about how life was just resonated with me. I found it comforting that someone else thought so much how about the little things (which are actually the big things). Anyway, I loved it then, and I loved it again this time.

Rather than talking about the plot, which to me is usually secondary to the experience of reading, I will talk about a few things that the book made me feel. It made me feel like we (as human beings in the Western world) are kidding ourselves that our consumerist lifestyles are making us happy (please PM me if you want to read a 4,500 word essay I wrote about the dissatisfaction that consumerism engenders- that is overkill, but goes to prove I have thought about this topic in depth!). This book slyly and drily makes this point, I think. Jack is the man whose comments and observations bring to light a scepticism about the benefits of modern life that many are able to quell in the hubbub of their daily grind. Through his and his families experience of a "toxic airborne event" there are hints dropped about how the way our society is structured hinders our ability to be at ease within it. When reading this book I was thinking about how we are persuaded to think differently about things via advertising and bureaucratic dictates - how we are distracted and removed from basic common sense ways of handling ourselves.

And it's funny! Maybe because we all worry about life/death/stuff, and we know that we can distract ourselves from this by keeping busy and sticking to the programme. Jack ends up varying wildly from accepted forms of distraction, but in a way that seems quite rational given his thought processes. All this is very cleverly laid out and was a dream to read.