I finished the second of my three term papers yesterday, a day ahead of schedule, so I declared today a Mental Health Day and spent a good chunk of the day at Starbucks finishing Libra, the fourth novel of my Don DeLillo Binge. I had a hard time getting through this one because it’s a historical novel, and I don’t like historical novels. It’s about Lee Harvey Oswald and conspiracy theories and things (as Jacob says, SPOILER ALERT: he dies at the end). Lots of FBI and CIA people lurking about. It’s not exactly my kind of novel.
DeLillo is a brilliant novelist, though, and even though I wasn’t interested at all in the subject matter, his writing is fantastic, and that makes up for a lot. Here are a couple of snippets I particularly liked:
Spy planes, drone aircraft, satellites with cameras that can see from three hundred miles what you can see from a hundred feet. They see and they hear. Like ancient monks, you know, who recorded knowledge, wrote it painstakingly down. These systems collect and process. All the secret knowledge of the world…I’ll tell you what it means, these orbiting sensors that can hearus in our beds. It means the end of loyalty. The more complex the systems, the less conviction in people. Conviction will be drained out of us. Devices will drain us, make us vague and pliant.
Well, that’s about it. Libra definitely isn’t White Noise. But he did call Bossier City “a place where you could get a social disease leaning on a lamppost” (!) and Dallas “the city that proves God is really dead.” Those were the best two parts of the whole damn novel. And there’s the disturbing description of Jackie Kennedy crawling over the back of the car in which her husband has just been shot trying to recover a piece of his skull. Every time I mention that description, someone tells me it really happened. I know.
And that’s about all I have to say about Libra. It’s not bad or anything – I just didn’t like it. I think it’s better-written than Falling Man. Next up is Americana, DeLillo’s first (published?) novel. I have no idea what it’s about, and that makes me happy. I’m going to do my best not to read the blurb on the back. I’ve decided to tackle the rest of the novels in the order they were published, though if I get too close to the end of the summer before I get to Underworld, I’ll skip to that one because it’s so damn long.
Oh, how I love Don DeLillo.