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A brilliant satire of mass culture and the numbing effects of technology, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America. Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by their love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. Then a lethal black chemical cloud, unleashed by an industrial accident, floats over there lives, an "airborne toxic event" that is a more urgent and visible version of the white noise engulfing the Gladneys—the radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, and TV murmurings that constitute the music of American magic and dread.
Published: Penguin Group on Jun 1, 1999
ISBN: 9781440674471
List price: $12.99
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I felt this was somewhat naive as a commentary on modern life. Full of funny non-sequiturs, however.read more
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Data Deluge and dull hum crowd out Meaning.At one level this seemed like an interminable plumbing of the notion of self absorption. Then again, perhaps self absorption is a form of “white noise” and as such tedious by its very nature. That being the point. Self absorption as a form of our culture’s unique blindness to larger more expansive ideas and opportunities. What with Jack and Babette Gladney’s angst about death, but on another it is quite unsettling and philosophical. Amazing in its prescient quality when one realizes it was written before the advent of the Internet and all it’s “noise” dulling forces. Somehow the constant presence of “fear of death” juxtaposed with the daily hum of the “white noise” of life. All the meaningless and unintelligible babble makes it hard to discern real meaning from the “noise”, the din of the day. But “noise” takes center stage in our daily lives and the book seems to suggest stripping it away to find the real thing. I found the notion that fear of death is derived from wanting to live and not feeling like we’ve finished our work/our contribution, hopeful. The clarity of the statement “If we could learn not be afraid, we could live forever” to somehow be the diamond in the rough of this book’s meaning. Life without fear (without “White Noise”) might give us a glimpse of immortality or at least the larger and infinite spiritual realities.Or not. You be the judge. It’s definitely worth the read.read more
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DeLillo is great but I think his books need to be discussed when you finish. Too much going on for one person.read more
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The thing about this book is that, contrary to the published review here, it is just so wrong--it's a book in search of easy, rather snide, answers to big complex questions. The secret of this book's appeal is that it takes those hard questions--mortality, meaning, the nature of society--and makes the reader feel as if he or she has confronted them, when actually you haven't--it's just an occasion for self-congratulation and a bit of not-too-clever satire. Someone mentioned Richard Russo, who is obviously brought to mind by this book--but Russo is funnier, a keener observer of both people and institutions, and altogether more honest. One doesn't walk away from Straight Man with the false sense of superiority which, I imagine, is DeLillo's strongest appeal for twenty-somethings (at least when they first read him) who lionize him.read more
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When I first read "White Noise" in college, I knew that I had neverbefore encountered such a remarkably astute portrayal (and critique)of American Culture. Upon rereading it, I realized that it is alsohysterical. Jack Gladney lives in a college town with hishyperbolically postmodern family, of whom only the youngest, aptlynamed Wilder, has any sense of the primal or the non-cultural. Foreveryone else, DeLillo creates a world where consumerism andtechnology are revered as spiritual guides; a world of highways andsupermarkets, airports, ATMs, brand names, pop icons, and newscoverage; a world that is "routinely panic-stricken" and "casuallyamuck." Even 20 years since its publication in 1985, "White Noise"undoubtedly occupies its era while retaining a certain timelessquality - the mark of a true classic.For a taste, look at Chapter 4. -Emilyread more
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After hearing many great reviews of this novel by friends, I decided to give it a try. I can say, this book was definitely worth it. It is very satirical about the American family system and the idea of massive consumerism in the 1980s.DeLillo also touched on many personal and difficult themes that EVERY human being struggles with in life. The most profound one in this novel is the fear of death. DeLillo cuts to the core of this fear with beautiful language and situations that make it both difficult and attractive at the same time. This book is definitely worth the read for anyone interested in deep, philosophical thoughts.read more
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I would rate this book between 3 and 4 stars. It was mildly entertaining. It is a good example of postmodernism literature. In this work, the author, DonDeLillo, explores the threat of environmental disaster, rampant consumerism and the uncertainty of death. Postmodern also is a word to describe truth as shifting and relevant. White Noise is set in a college town, the protagonist, Jack, is a professor of Hitler. He and his wife debate and compete with each other on who gets to die first. I don't think this is a very unusual discussion among partners. The novel is filled with popular culture, real products and real people. The environmental disaster is a black cloud of toxic chemicals that spreads over the area. Jack is exposed because he has to pump gas so that the family can make it to the relocation area. He believes he is dying because of his exposure and he becomes obsessed with death even more than he had been obsessed. He also becomes obsessed with Dylar, a drug that is rumored to be able to make him forget his fear of dying. The family spends much of their time in the grocery store and and looking at sunsets. There is humor throughout the book that deals with such serious matters as environmental disasters and death anxiety. I especially liked how The book starts with descriptions of the family purchasing goods and ends with Jack furiously decluttering the home of various products and discarded objects of consumerism.read more
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One of those intellectual books. Comical, philosophical, insightful. For a while I didn't know where the book was going, but towards the end references came together nicely. It feels to me that I've missed a lot of hidden connections as I skimmed through some places, but over all I have a nice impression of the book, and will probably read it again in the future to rediscover all the intricate intentions of the author.Great for anyone who's a thinking kind of reader and who appreciates shrewd observations. There were laugh-out-loud moments that were just priceless, and that are not to be found anywhere else."Are you a killer or a dier?"read more
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White Noise is a fantastic novel, in many regards. The poetics and form are shrewdly brilliant. I am not at peace with the density, the over-the-top sensational nature of the plot, the emotional weakness of the characters, the sacrifice of humanity to make a point. Too much cardboard, not enough flesh.Which, I can only assume, is part of the point.All in all, I see White Noise as a retelling of Lolita, with death taking the place of a girl. In that, the novel is magnificent.Underworld, however, is signficantly better.read more
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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.read more
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2 1/2 stars depending on my mood. I am positive it was better back when it first came out.read more
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This book is an acquired taste. It's more philosophical and thematic, rather than, driven by characters and plots. The structure of the book is not complicated and consists of three parts. First there is life before the toxic disaster, then the actual disaster happens, and finally life after the disaster. More importantly there are several themes and symbols in the book; television, commercialism, consumerism, plots, disasters, identity, and death. Death is actually the main theme and considering the main character is a professor of Hitler studies, this idea is hard to miss.

One idea I connected with was anticipation and fear before an event. People tend to freak out before several events throughout the book. Something as simple as a snow storm sends people into a panic. I can relate to this. When I'm told I have to work extra hours on a certain day, I dread each minute leading up to it. However, when the actual day comes it’s not so bad. It's like the anticipation is worse than the event itself. This idea really comes into play with the theme of death. Most of us don't fear death, but rather, fear the processes leading up to it.

I was also amused by the humor in the book. The humor is not shallow and contains depth such as this quote, "the family is the cradle of the world's misinformation". Considering my family, I can identify with this statement. My mother recently said she was a proud Democrat (progressive) and totally supported the Tea Party movement (conservative). So perhaps this is why I connected with the book. Like the Gladney family my family is absurd; and I even like to read about World War II and Hitler.read more
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Neither as dark nor as funny as the hype had led me to believe. There's an interesting family of characters and a couple of interesting moments, but ultimately this is pretty forgettable.read more
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I am surprised to read other reviews and learn that this book is humorous and biting. Mostly, I found it slow and a little boring.The story centers around a mix-n-match family born of multiple marriages. Part one is kind of Richard Russo - here's a family, here's the town, and this is what it's like here. In Part 2, we're treated to an industrial accident that forces evacuation. Part 3 elaborates the aftermath as perceived by the main character (did we ever learn his name? I don't even remember). There are other issues and events, of course, and they add value to the reading, but all in all I found the substance spread thin.read more
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Funny modernism ballardian philosophy hitler.First Delillo read after a break from fiction...this was brilliant. Currently seeking more!read more
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A darkly humorous look into a possible future (or present) of technology gone awry. Narator Jack Gladney and his family deal with a mysterious noxious cloud, drugs that make unreasonable promises, the church of the supermarket, and the constant background noise of television and radio.read more
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A well-crafted book that enthralled me from the opening image. White Noise, as the title implies, is a meditation on the information overload of modern life that drowns out any attempt to find meaning. The small, rural, college-town setting is a faint background in which are placed rambling, chaotic, meaningless chattering conversation between Jack, his friend and fellow professor Murray, and his wife and children, that happen amongst exaggerated tabloid-esque events, such as toxic chemical spills and secret drug trials. Most impressively, this theme of constant background noise is manifested as both a theme and a technique which is demonstrated by its unerringly accurate circular dialogue of misremembered facts and rambling free association as well as the accumulating strings of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. In a way, I think the book falls a victim to it's success -- I feel overloaded, overwhelmed and am not sure what the the point is. A fascinating, if not fun, read.read more
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I can see where Chuck Palniuk gets some of his schtick now. The ending was a bit weak but there were some truly stunning passages throughout.read more
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Nobody really talks in the way that DeLillo has his characters communicate in his books - this one especially. The world would seem a far more interesting, erudite place if they did, but that's never going to happen."White Noise" is like information overload, with discernible patterns beneath and around the confusion. Chemical spill drills, Hitler symposia, death; all are treated here, and properly with caution; the result is compelling and enjoyable without being over-worked.read more
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Re-read for the nth time. Still the Great American Novel.read more
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This is a quick absurdist look at the contemporary world. You'll find yourself disgusted with society and or laughing at various points, and you'll move through the book quickly. I'd recommend it as an escape or simple entertainment that will end up leaving you thinking about the situations despite yourself.read more
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This story is as American as the proverbial pie. I can't think of this theater of the absurd, but perceptive, tale having been penned by anyone other than an author from the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.It's about a non-hero's attempt to cope with life (or should that be Life?); his journey is a bit like his driving: close your eyes for six seconds and suddenly you're confronted by new challenges, sometimes funny but mostly scary but always demanding a reaction from the non-hero and the reader - some great set-pieces.Read with care and you'll be rewarded.read more
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Confession time - I don't get Don DeLillo. I had previously read "Falling Man", and didn't enjoy it much, so it was with trepidation that I picked up "White Noise". Ultimately, its inclusion on several lists of "Books You Absolutely Must Read Right This Second" tipped the balance. This was not a bad book, per se, just one that I didn't particularly enjoy. The story of some academics in a small college town and various things that happen to them, including an evacuation. The problem was I just didn't feel empathy for the characters. I blame me, rather than DeLillo - my tastes appear to be much too lowbrow for his style of writing, alas.read more
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I was so excited to start reading White Noise, but was relatively disappointed, though I'm determined to finish it.read more
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I know this book is a favorite of critic's and other authors. But I just did not get into it. I thought it was painfully slow. Can someone please tell me why I should re-read this?read more
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Déjà Vu: "White Noise" is about death. It is an ultra-dark comedy that mocks consumerism, academia, self-help psychology, and itself. It explores Hamlet's (that most death-obsessed of Shakespeare's heros) question, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil ..." Delillo's answer is waves, radiation, radio static, the hiss of a blank TV screen, the dull roar of traffic, the antiseptic murmur of air conditioning -- white noise.

Jack Gladney is a brooding hypochondriac, professor, and chairman of the Department of Hitler Studies at the College-on-the-Hill in idyllic Blacksmith Village. He and his wife, Babette, live with their children at the end of a quiet street, where at night "the sparse traffic washes past, a remote and steady murmur around our sleep, as of dead souls babbling at the edge of a stream." Their relationship is defined by endless discussion over who will suffer more when the other dies.

Jack's confidant at the college is Murray Siskind, ex-sports writer and visiting lecturer on Elvis Presley. In their many Socratic dialogues Murray is a comic doubter, who pursues a negative view of life. Murray at last plays a modern version of Hamlet's ghost (or perhaps Iago), urging Jack to vengeance and cold-blooded murder.

Jack's quest begins when one of the children discovers that Babette has been taking Dylar, an experimental drug, designed to overcome the fear of death. Jack's own fear of death propels him forward, investigating the drug, learning that his wife traded sexual favors for it, and climaxes in a show-down with the dealer.

Death threats are everywhere. Men in Mylex suits and respirators appear the local grade-school after a deadly toxic release. When Jack and Babette retrieve his daughter at the airport they learn that the plane had lost power in three engines, plummeting four miles, "a silver gleaming death machine," before miraculously regaining power.

An insecticide tank car ruptures and emits an airborne toxic cloud filled with the deadly byproduct Nyodene D. The cloud is an enormous dark mass that moves like a death-ship of Norse legend, forcing a general evacuation under the escort of men in Mylex suits and respirators. The cloud produces feelings of déjà vu --- the senseless reliving of senseless events. Jack is exposed, learns he is at risk of developing a nebulous mass, realizes that he will at some undetermined time die, and his desperation for Dylar grows.

The local insane asylum is a metaphor for Blacksmith Village, or perhaps College-on-the-Hill. When it burns down Jack sees a woman in a fiery nightgown walk across the lawn, "so lost to dreams and furies that the fire around head seemed almost incidental." The intensity of the apparition turns madness into reality.

Babette's vagabond father, Vernon Dickey visits. In a premonitory vision Jack sees the old man as "Death's errand runner, a hollow-eyed technician from the plague era, from the era of inquisitions, endless wars, bedlams, and leprosariums." Vernon is a harmless eccentric, but gives Jack a Zumwalt .22 caliber pistol (one of many Freudian symbols -- Vernon has a much larger pistol of his own). This gun, as must any gun in a novel, plays an key role in the unwinding of the plot.

Sister Hermann Marie, a nun at Iron City Lying In, Mother of Mercy Hospital, assures Jack that the nuns' task is to believe things that no one else takes seriously. "The devil, the angels, heaven, hell. If we did not pretend to believe these things, the world would collapse."

Delillo's mockery spares little, preaches nihilism, and suggests that life is no more than a form of death, radio static, the hiss of a blank TV screen -- white noise. In the end the brilliant writing turns on itself. The elegant phrases, stunning images, and ingenious trains of thought, leave the reader in awe. And yet, the writing mocks itself and questions its own validity. Jack learns nothing at the end of his quest. Dylar is not at all what it appears to be. The end is like the beginning. Déjà vu.read more
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An interesting piece of work with moments of humour as one man struggles with his mortality.read more
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Excellent, humorous, insightful. One of my favorite authors.read more
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Improbably funny. White Noise is beautifully and richly layered with metaphor and meaning. And the dialogue in the end between Jack and the German nun is priceless!At several points in the novel, I got an eerily vague feeling that I had read a certain sentence somewhere before. I'm not sure whether DeLillo somehow does this on purpose (or if it means that I am just as crazy as so many of his characters), but the whole idea plays beautifully into his ongoing discussion of deja vu and how it is inextricably linked to our innate preoccupation with death.read more
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The best of his I've read by some way, the prose is fantastic, it's extremely smart and often very funny. As is normally the case with Don, I think there's more to admire here than love - the characters are, I'm sure deliberately, vessels for ideas rather than constructs that might live and breathe and give you something to care about. My interest did dip at points, but they were far rarer than in other books of his (in Underworld hundreds of pages went by indifferently for me) and the humour that ran alongside the ideas kept it going where otherwise it might have lagged. Well worth a read and certainly a re-read - although my feeling that Don is a writer to be studied rather than read remains, this is the first of his I've read that stands up to both.read more
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I felt this was somewhat naive as a commentary on modern life. Full of funny non-sequiturs, however.
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Data Deluge and dull hum crowd out Meaning.At one level this seemed like an interminable plumbing of the notion of self absorption. Then again, perhaps self absorption is a form of “white noise” and as such tedious by its very nature. That being the point. Self absorption as a form of our culture’s unique blindness to larger more expansive ideas and opportunities. What with Jack and Babette Gladney’s angst about death, but on another it is quite unsettling and philosophical. Amazing in its prescient quality when one realizes it was written before the advent of the Internet and all it’s “noise” dulling forces. Somehow the constant presence of “fear of death” juxtaposed with the daily hum of the “white noise” of life. All the meaningless and unintelligible babble makes it hard to discern real meaning from the “noise”, the din of the day. But “noise” takes center stage in our daily lives and the book seems to suggest stripping it away to find the real thing. I found the notion that fear of death is derived from wanting to live and not feeling like we’ve finished our work/our contribution, hopeful. The clarity of the statement “If we could learn not be afraid, we could live forever” to somehow be the diamond in the rough of this book’s meaning. Life without fear (without “White Noise”) might give us a glimpse of immortality or at least the larger and infinite spiritual realities.Or not. You be the judge. It’s definitely worth the read.
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DeLillo is great but I think his books need to be discussed when you finish. Too much going on for one person.
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The thing about this book is that, contrary to the published review here, it is just so wrong--it's a book in search of easy, rather snide, answers to big complex questions. The secret of this book's appeal is that it takes those hard questions--mortality, meaning, the nature of society--and makes the reader feel as if he or she has confronted them, when actually you haven't--it's just an occasion for self-congratulation and a bit of not-too-clever satire. Someone mentioned Richard Russo, who is obviously brought to mind by this book--but Russo is funnier, a keener observer of both people and institutions, and altogether more honest. One doesn't walk away from Straight Man with the false sense of superiority which, I imagine, is DeLillo's strongest appeal for twenty-somethings (at least when they first read him) who lionize him.
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When I first read "White Noise" in college, I knew that I had neverbefore encountered such a remarkably astute portrayal (and critique)of American Culture. Upon rereading it, I realized that it is alsohysterical. Jack Gladney lives in a college town with hishyperbolically postmodern family, of whom only the youngest, aptlynamed Wilder, has any sense of the primal or the non-cultural. Foreveryone else, DeLillo creates a world where consumerism andtechnology are revered as spiritual guides; a world of highways andsupermarkets, airports, ATMs, brand names, pop icons, and newscoverage; a world that is "routinely panic-stricken" and "casuallyamuck." Even 20 years since its publication in 1985, "White Noise"undoubtedly occupies its era while retaining a certain timelessquality - the mark of a true classic.For a taste, look at Chapter 4. -Emily
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After hearing many great reviews of this novel by friends, I decided to give it a try. I can say, this book was definitely worth it. It is very satirical about the American family system and the idea of massive consumerism in the 1980s.DeLillo also touched on many personal and difficult themes that EVERY human being struggles with in life. The most profound one in this novel is the fear of death. DeLillo cuts to the core of this fear with beautiful language and situations that make it both difficult and attractive at the same time. This book is definitely worth the read for anyone interested in deep, philosophical thoughts.
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I would rate this book between 3 and 4 stars. It was mildly entertaining. It is a good example of postmodernism literature. In this work, the author, DonDeLillo, explores the threat of environmental disaster, rampant consumerism and the uncertainty of death. Postmodern also is a word to describe truth as shifting and relevant. White Noise is set in a college town, the protagonist, Jack, is a professor of Hitler. He and his wife debate and compete with each other on who gets to die first. I don't think this is a very unusual discussion among partners. The novel is filled with popular culture, real products and real people. The environmental disaster is a black cloud of toxic chemicals that spreads over the area. Jack is exposed because he has to pump gas so that the family can make it to the relocation area. He believes he is dying because of his exposure and he becomes obsessed with death even more than he had been obsessed. He also becomes obsessed with Dylar, a drug that is rumored to be able to make him forget his fear of dying. The family spends much of their time in the grocery store and and looking at sunsets. There is humor throughout the book that deals with such serious matters as environmental disasters and death anxiety. I especially liked how The book starts with descriptions of the family purchasing goods and ends with Jack furiously decluttering the home of various products and discarded objects of consumerism.
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One of those intellectual books. Comical, philosophical, insightful. For a while I didn't know where the book was going, but towards the end references came together nicely. It feels to me that I've missed a lot of hidden connections as I skimmed through some places, but over all I have a nice impression of the book, and will probably read it again in the future to rediscover all the intricate intentions of the author.Great for anyone who's a thinking kind of reader and who appreciates shrewd observations. There were laugh-out-loud moments that were just priceless, and that are not to be found anywhere else."Are you a killer or a dier?"
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White Noise is a fantastic novel, in many regards. The poetics and form are shrewdly brilliant. I am not at peace with the density, the over-the-top sensational nature of the plot, the emotional weakness of the characters, the sacrifice of humanity to make a point. Too much cardboard, not enough flesh.Which, I can only assume, is part of the point.All in all, I see White Noise as a retelling of Lolita, with death taking the place of a girl. In that, the novel is magnificent.Underworld, however, is signficantly better.
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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.
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2 1/2 stars depending on my mood. I am positive it was better back when it first came out.
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This book is an acquired taste. It's more philosophical and thematic, rather than, driven by characters and plots. The structure of the book is not complicated and consists of three parts. First there is life before the toxic disaster, then the actual disaster happens, and finally life after the disaster. More importantly there are several themes and symbols in the book; television, commercialism, consumerism, plots, disasters, identity, and death. Death is actually the main theme and considering the main character is a professor of Hitler studies, this idea is hard to miss.

One idea I connected with was anticipation and fear before an event. People tend to freak out before several events throughout the book. Something as simple as a snow storm sends people into a panic. I can relate to this. When I'm told I have to work extra hours on a certain day, I dread each minute leading up to it. However, when the actual day comes it’s not so bad. It's like the anticipation is worse than the event itself. This idea really comes into play with the theme of death. Most of us don't fear death, but rather, fear the processes leading up to it.

I was also amused by the humor in the book. The humor is not shallow and contains depth such as this quote, "the family is the cradle of the world's misinformation". Considering my family, I can identify with this statement. My mother recently said she was a proud Democrat (progressive) and totally supported the Tea Party movement (conservative). So perhaps this is why I connected with the book. Like the Gladney family my family is absurd; and I even like to read about World War II and Hitler.
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Neither as dark nor as funny as the hype had led me to believe. There's an interesting family of characters and a couple of interesting moments, but ultimately this is pretty forgettable.
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I am surprised to read other reviews and learn that this book is humorous and biting. Mostly, I found it slow and a little boring.The story centers around a mix-n-match family born of multiple marriages. Part one is kind of Richard Russo - here's a family, here's the town, and this is what it's like here. In Part 2, we're treated to an industrial accident that forces evacuation. Part 3 elaborates the aftermath as perceived by the main character (did we ever learn his name? I don't even remember). There are other issues and events, of course, and they add value to the reading, but all in all I found the substance spread thin.
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Funny modernism ballardian philosophy hitler.First Delillo read after a break from fiction...this was brilliant. Currently seeking more!
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A darkly humorous look into a possible future (or present) of technology gone awry. Narator Jack Gladney and his family deal with a mysterious noxious cloud, drugs that make unreasonable promises, the church of the supermarket, and the constant background noise of television and radio.
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A well-crafted book that enthralled me from the opening image. White Noise, as the title implies, is a meditation on the information overload of modern life that drowns out any attempt to find meaning. The small, rural, college-town setting is a faint background in which are placed rambling, chaotic, meaningless chattering conversation between Jack, his friend and fellow professor Murray, and his wife and children, that happen amongst exaggerated tabloid-esque events, such as toxic chemical spills and secret drug trials. Most impressively, this theme of constant background noise is manifested as both a theme and a technique which is demonstrated by its unerringly accurate circular dialogue of misremembered facts and rambling free association as well as the accumulating strings of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. In a way, I think the book falls a victim to it's success -- I feel overloaded, overwhelmed and am not sure what the the point is. A fascinating, if not fun, read.
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I can see where Chuck Palniuk gets some of his schtick now. The ending was a bit weak but there were some truly stunning passages throughout.
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Nobody really talks in the way that DeLillo has his characters communicate in his books - this one especially. The world would seem a far more interesting, erudite place if they did, but that's never going to happen."White Noise" is like information overload, with discernible patterns beneath and around the confusion. Chemical spill drills, Hitler symposia, death; all are treated here, and properly with caution; the result is compelling and enjoyable without being over-worked.
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Re-read for the nth time. Still the Great American Novel.
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This is a quick absurdist look at the contemporary world. You'll find yourself disgusted with society and or laughing at various points, and you'll move through the book quickly. I'd recommend it as an escape or simple entertainment that will end up leaving you thinking about the situations despite yourself.
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This story is as American as the proverbial pie. I can't think of this theater of the absurd, but perceptive, tale having been penned by anyone other than an author from the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.It's about a non-hero's attempt to cope with life (or should that be Life?); his journey is a bit like his driving: close your eyes for six seconds and suddenly you're confronted by new challenges, sometimes funny but mostly scary but always demanding a reaction from the non-hero and the reader - some great set-pieces.Read with care and you'll be rewarded.
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Confession time - I don't get Don DeLillo. I had previously read "Falling Man", and didn't enjoy it much, so it was with trepidation that I picked up "White Noise". Ultimately, its inclusion on several lists of "Books You Absolutely Must Read Right This Second" tipped the balance. This was not a bad book, per se, just one that I didn't particularly enjoy. The story of some academics in a small college town and various things that happen to them, including an evacuation. The problem was I just didn't feel empathy for the characters. I blame me, rather than DeLillo - my tastes appear to be much too lowbrow for his style of writing, alas.
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I was so excited to start reading White Noise, but was relatively disappointed, though I'm determined to finish it.
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I know this book is a favorite of critic's and other authors. But I just did not get into it. I thought it was painfully slow. Can someone please tell me why I should re-read this?
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Déjà Vu: "White Noise" is about death. It is an ultra-dark comedy that mocks consumerism, academia, self-help psychology, and itself. It explores Hamlet's (that most death-obsessed of Shakespeare's heros) question, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil ..." Delillo's answer is waves, radiation, radio static, the hiss of a blank TV screen, the dull roar of traffic, the antiseptic murmur of air conditioning -- white noise.

Jack Gladney is a brooding hypochondriac, professor, and chairman of the Department of Hitler Studies at the College-on-the-Hill in idyllic Blacksmith Village. He and his wife, Babette, live with their children at the end of a quiet street, where at night "the sparse traffic washes past, a remote and steady murmur around our sleep, as of dead souls babbling at the edge of a stream." Their relationship is defined by endless discussion over who will suffer more when the other dies.

Jack's confidant at the college is Murray Siskind, ex-sports writer and visiting lecturer on Elvis Presley. In their many Socratic dialogues Murray is a comic doubter, who pursues a negative view of life. Murray at last plays a modern version of Hamlet's ghost (or perhaps Iago), urging Jack to vengeance and cold-blooded murder.

Jack's quest begins when one of the children discovers that Babette has been taking Dylar, an experimental drug, designed to overcome the fear of death. Jack's own fear of death propels him forward, investigating the drug, learning that his wife traded sexual favors for it, and climaxes in a show-down with the dealer.

Death threats are everywhere. Men in Mylex suits and respirators appear the local grade-school after a deadly toxic release. When Jack and Babette retrieve his daughter at the airport they learn that the plane had lost power in three engines, plummeting four miles, "a silver gleaming death machine," before miraculously regaining power.

An insecticide tank car ruptures and emits an airborne toxic cloud filled with the deadly byproduct Nyodene D. The cloud is an enormous dark mass that moves like a death-ship of Norse legend, forcing a general evacuation under the escort of men in Mylex suits and respirators. The cloud produces feelings of déjà vu --- the senseless reliving of senseless events. Jack is exposed, learns he is at risk of developing a nebulous mass, realizes that he will at some undetermined time die, and his desperation for Dylar grows.

The local insane asylum is a metaphor for Blacksmith Village, or perhaps College-on-the-Hill. When it burns down Jack sees a woman in a fiery nightgown walk across the lawn, "so lost to dreams and furies that the fire around head seemed almost incidental." The intensity of the apparition turns madness into reality.

Babette's vagabond father, Vernon Dickey visits. In a premonitory vision Jack sees the old man as "Death's errand runner, a hollow-eyed technician from the plague era, from the era of inquisitions, endless wars, bedlams, and leprosariums." Vernon is a harmless eccentric, but gives Jack a Zumwalt .22 caliber pistol (one of many Freudian symbols -- Vernon has a much larger pistol of his own). This gun, as must any gun in a novel, plays an key role in the unwinding of the plot.

Sister Hermann Marie, a nun at Iron City Lying In, Mother of Mercy Hospital, assures Jack that the nuns' task is to believe things that no one else takes seriously. "The devil, the angels, heaven, hell. If we did not pretend to believe these things, the world would collapse."

Delillo's mockery spares little, preaches nihilism, and suggests that life is no more than a form of death, radio static, the hiss of a blank TV screen -- white noise. In the end the brilliant writing turns on itself. The elegant phrases, stunning images, and ingenious trains of thought, leave the reader in awe. And yet, the writing mocks itself and questions its own validity. Jack learns nothing at the end of his quest. Dylar is not at all what it appears to be. The end is like the beginning. Déjà vu.
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An interesting piece of work with moments of humour as one man struggles with his mortality.
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Excellent, humorous, insightful. One of my favorite authors.
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Improbably funny. White Noise is beautifully and richly layered with metaphor and meaning. And the dialogue in the end between Jack and the German nun is priceless!At several points in the novel, I got an eerily vague feeling that I had read a certain sentence somewhere before. I'm not sure whether DeLillo somehow does this on purpose (or if it means that I am just as crazy as so many of his characters), but the whole idea plays beautifully into his ongoing discussion of deja vu and how it is inextricably linked to our innate preoccupation with death.
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The best of his I've read by some way, the prose is fantastic, it's extremely smart and often very funny. As is normally the case with Don, I think there's more to admire here than love - the characters are, I'm sure deliberately, vessels for ideas rather than constructs that might live and breathe and give you something to care about. My interest did dip at points, but they were far rarer than in other books of his (in Underworld hundreds of pages went by indifferently for me) and the humour that ran alongside the ideas kept it going where otherwise it might have lagged. Well worth a read and certainly a re-read - although my feeling that Don is a writer to be studied rather than read remains, this is the first of his I've read that stands up to both.
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