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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Payoff For A Stubborn Reader

Don DeLillo has long occupied a spot on a short list of acclaimed fiction authors who I've struggled to crack. Each time I abandoned one of his novels, I vowed to return, knowing sooner or later my efforts would pay off. Authors don't get to be as highly regarded as DeLillo for no reason.   

If DeLillo's work has challenged you as it has me (and you're as stubborn as I), The Silence (2020) could be - as it turned out to be for me - your gateway to a modern-day master. The premise is straightforward - five people try to cope with a technological apocalypse - the prose is lean, the insights powerful. This time, at under one hundred fifty pages and with a small cast, the density of DeLillo's vision didn't overwhelm me as happened with several of his earlier novels I'd started. If you end up reading The Silence, I'd enjoy hearing about your experience, especially if DeLillo hasn't been easy for you.

BTW, the short list referred to in the first paragraph also includes William Faulkner, David Foster Wallace, and Thomas Pynchon. Except for Old Man - shorter than The Silence - I've yet to finish another Faulkner novel. And though I have greedily devoured all of Wallace's non-fiction, I've given up on Infinite Jest at least three times. Me & Thomas Pynchon's lauded fiction? That's a blog post all by itself. But, the good news comes last: Not giving up on DeLillo brought The Silence to me. That means there may be more DeLillo & Faulkner in my future and perhaps I'll crack Infinite Jest the next time. Pynchon? Stay tuned on that.      


  1. I love White Noise by Don DeLillo, if you ever want to try him again! At first I hated it but I forced myself to keep going and it's one of my favorites now. I might have to try The Silence eventually.

    I think you already know how much I love Wallace -- it took me about nine months to get through Infinite Jest, I think. And I still didn't understand most of what happened in it, but I want to read it again anyway.

    And finally, I gave up about halfway through V by Thomas Pynchon, but I was able to get through The Crying of Lot 49 only because it was very short. But I still didn't really enjoy it so maybe he's just not for me, although I really wanted to like him because I've heard he was an influence on Wallace.

    That's all, hope you're doing well!


    1. Briana; So good to see another comment from you, especially since this one intersects at a shared love of ours - literature. "White Noise" was one of the earlier DeLillo novels I abandoned so, based on your stubbornness getting through it (and subsequently loving it), I'll have to give it another shot. I'd already planned to return to "Infinite Jest" because of how much I've loved ALL of Wallace's non-fiction; you fortified that resolve. And so happens "V" was my first failed exposure to Pynchon (although not my last), yet another inscrutable novel I've started at least three times. Yikes! Best to your Dad.