What’s It About: Okay, so play along here. Jack Gladney is the founder of Hitler Studies in America. And he’s COMPLETELY obsessed with death. Like, a lot. But, hey, guess what? So is society and contemporary media culture. And if you want to know how/why, DeLillo will tell you.
Why: I was told there was a talking television. This person was only half-wrong.
Thoughts: Okay, where to begin? Remember how I said it’s all about death. Well, yea. It is. But not in that depressing way that will leave you shriveled on the couch anxious about all the diseases in the air or the after life. No, there’s a huge emotional distance between the reader and death and we are invited more so to be a cultural critic, a reflective stranger in uncharted territory, analyzing away at the abundant death in the book. It makes you feel pretty freaking smart. Like the genius kids in the novel.
And that being said, the book has a little something for everyone. Right when you think you’re in the middle of a semi-intellectual, domestic drama, BAM there’s some kind of weird cloud thing of toxic stuff and everyone’s running away, disaster movie style. And then after that, there’s a bit of a noirish twist- something about a guy with magic pills that can cure the fear of death. I don’t mean to belittle the plot with my throwaway language, but I use it to emphasize how “real” agents of death in the book always have an aura of mystery and confusion around them. Clarity is only really given to our reactions to death, and the desperate measures we take in the face of it.
Highly recommended and all that good stuff. Go read it. You know, before…