I just wrote a long and detailed review of this book and it got deleted! Since I’m too lazy to rewrite, I’ll summarise this book in one sentence :
Modern Life is Rubbish.
update two – Hurrah – thank goodness. I’m suscribed to my own blog!. Here it is :
Don Delillo’s White Noise was a book I absolutely hated when I first read it back in 2004 but now since I’m older (and cynical) I’ve come to appreciate my second reading of the novel.
As such you could say that this is DeLillo’s homage to modern life and how fearsome it can get. Sure all of DeLillo’s novels are about that but this is his most sarcastic.
Jack Gladney is the head of Hitler studies at university. He has survived four marriages and his current wife, Babette is constantly afraid of death and is taking pills to overcome it. Funnily enough all of Jack’s six or so children embrace the modern life they lead. Television , adverts, natural disasters (in fact the Airborne Toxic Event section of the book criticises the media very heavily) fast food and everything consumer related.
Is there a plot? not really but there is a small storyline which gives White Noise a bit of body. Jack finds out that his wife traded sexual favours for the pills that she takes and he sets out to kill the supplier. As such this ties in with the overlying theme of consumer America.
White Noise is not DeLillo’s best novel. Parts of it do drag a bit and he does hit the message home way too many times. But it definitely isn’t terrible. I see it as a precursor of what was to follow (namely the excellent Mao II and the dazzling Underworld) but it is a good read on the whole and worth checking out.