White Noise by Don Delillo
Challenges: 2010 Challenge (Shiny & New)
Synopsis: From the back of the book: First published in 1984, White Noise, one of DeLillo’s most highly acclaimed novels, tells the story of Jack Gladney and his wife Babette who are both afraid of death. Jack is head of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. His colleague Murray runs a seminar on car crashes. Together they ponder the instances of celebrity death, from Elvis to Marilyn to Hitler. Through the brilliant and often very funny dialogue between Jack and Murray, Delillo exposes our common obsession with mortality and delineates Jack and Babette’s touching relationship and their biggest fear—who will die first?
My Thoughts: This is a postmodern novel and I have a complicated relationship with postmodern literature. On the one hand I can see what he is trying to show. He is trying to show the fragmented nature of the postmodern society and how we all put on different personalities depending on who or where we are. However on a personal note I guess I am not that postmodern in my outlook on life. I will buy that we accentuate different facets of our personalities depending on where we are and who we are with but I still think that we all have things that are fairly unique to us, aspects of our personality that will shine through no matter where we are or who we are with.
White Noise deals specifically with the fear of death that is so prevalent in today’s society. Jack and his wife Babette fear death over all else. Maybe it is my warped personality but I don’t fear death. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to not wake up tomorrow, but at the same time I try to live each day to its fullest. I try to take every opportunity that comes my way because one does not know when things will end. Jack and Babette on the other hand seem to spend a lot of time worrying about death, to the point where Babette takes pills to stop worrying about it. These pills make her distant and forgetful, she is missing out on her children out of fear. To me that is rather sad.
The book does discuss some interesting aspects of what reality really is and how we construct it. I especially enjoyed the the sequence that I presented in my Teaser Tuesday. If we all go do see something that is billed as unique then is it still unique.
I wasn’t to fond of the way the book presents dialogue. I found it difficult to follow along who was speaking when. Many of the characters have a similar ‘voice’, this is part of the books postmodernist structure but it makes it very difficult to follow along in the conversation. I also disliked the family conversations, Jack and Babette and their children seem to talk AT each other not TO each other, or something. It just seems off.
The novel did make me think, but in all honesty, had I not been assigned it for school I don’t think I would have finished it. Not because I didn’t like it but I got bored. There are large chunks of the book where very little happens. There is a lot of naval gazing and discussion of death. All in all a bit boring.