Don DeLilio writes, in White Noise, like Dylan Thomas writes in Child's Christmas in Wales. Gently. Beautifully. For the child in us. And with the glowing eyes and snuffing sounds in the dark forest where we dare not go, where dragons be. I'm reading it slowly, like something delectable that one would like to have endure until one was gorged, at least sated. A hot fudge sundae. The book was written in 1985, and it was read by most of the literate world, judging by all the different covers the book has had. I missed it. Or got it mixed up with White Oleander, which I can't remember reading, but must have since it's on my shelves with hundreds of other books. So when the opportunity arose to acquire White Noise, I did, while in a corner of my mind, thinking I may already have this book.
It was only a few days ago in Half Price Books, after an unsuccessful foray to satisfy a list of authors I wanted. None available. I slid two DeLilo books off the shelf, this one and a short story collection, something Esmeralda, I think.
I tried to read a DeLilo a couple of years ago with the title Point Omega and my eyes glazed over. I recall a scene where someone is watching "Psycho" in an art museum but it's been slowed down to 24 hours. Okay. Could have been interesting. But the book's pace was like that. Waaayyy too intellectual for my tastes. I'd rather go to a rock fight. Less painful. It must have won a Pulitzer because most of those I've encountered the last few years have made me feel like I didn't get the joke, that I was so far behind in class that, once discovered, I'd be drummed out, epaulettes ripped off, possibly canewhipped.
Back to White Noise. There's a wonderful scene where the protagonist, Jack Gladney, has promoted a Hitler Studies department in his small college, sort of a job security device, and he's the head of it. He can't even speak German. At any rate, a colleague, Siskind, is doing something similar with pop culture and Elvis. He sidles into Gladney's yearly Hitler conference and begins to make observations about Elvis, which Gladney counters with Hitler trivia. It's a veritable dueling banjos scene. What fun!
Gladney's Garp-like house is full of ex-wives, almost too precocious children of several marriages, clutter, a wife who is rather fun and kind, eighties discussions of death, snippets from TV's white noise and purposely burnt toast. It's a happy place. Then comes the toxic event. And that's where I am now. So this is not a review, it's only half of one. I suppose it's a iew, which is the latter half of review. But it's the former half of the book. Maybe a rev?
And I may never share the latter half with you, such is the zigzag meander of my mind. But thanks for reading.