My beach book this past summer was Don DeLillo’s 1997 novel Underworld. Near Asbury Park, on a beach that was eroding by the hour, where the emergency jetty was blown away and the surf rushed at us like a gang shoving outsiders off its turf, it felt just right. My wife says she’s never seen me cling to a new book so intensely.
I’ve always wanted to love DeLillo: he’s so damned smart, and he comes from the Bronx. He is amazingly fluent in modern language-games—academic, corporate, political, military, cybernetic—and he has an acute sense of what’s wrong with modern life. But Oy, such a cold heart! His languages have no speakers; his world feels emotionally hollow, like it’s been evacuated by human beings. And those paranoid narratives, full of secret agents and conspiracies and things that blow up in the night—those metaphysical Boys’ Books—grow up already! But he’s still a thrill to read....
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