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"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for many years and enters the world of political violence, a nightscape of Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Bill's dangerous passage leaves two people stranded: his brilliant, fixated assistant, Scott, and the strange young woman who is Scott's lover--and Bill's.
Published: Penguin Group on May 1, 1992
ISBN: 9781440673368
List price: $12.99
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This is a Typical DeLillo - which is by no means bad. On the contrary.

First, I'd like to say that DeLillo's writing style is as ornate and expressive as ever.

This is more of a rambling discussion, a loose connection of thoughts on crowds, mass movements, the Unification Church, writers, New York, baseball, terrorism, and post-modernism. Sometimes DeLillo goes for multi-page conversations, and sometimes for little aphorisms which you can repeat to impress your friends and sound wise.

Again, the usual caveat with DeLillo: it's not really a novel so much as it is a collection of elements with the most tenuous connection of plot. It may almost tempt you to call it 'dull' and give up, but then you're jerked awake by a turn of phrase or insight. His musings on crowds and mass movements are intensely fascinating. The Ayatollah and Mao and Reverend Moon scenes are probably the best in the book.

So if you're a devotee or dewy-eyed admirer, go right ahead.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love this author and his insights but I do noy always understand where it is going. I read this after White Noise and I will some more of his books.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I bought this five days ago, and am about 100 pages in. My impressions: Finely written, closely observed, jam-packed with thought, and I doubt I am going to finish it. So far the gears are moving brilliantly, but they have not connected with any mechanism that makes me care. The characters are alienated, their relationship to anything outside themselves remote. (1.31.2007)So I finished it. Thanks largely to a couple of long plane rides. Either I called it early or I was a prisoner of my early bias, but it did run to type. It didn't end with a bang, or a whimper, but more of the slow hiss of air escaping from a punctured balloon. The initial scene is a marvel, depicting a Reverend Moon mass marriage in Yankee stadium while the narration flickers from the consciousness of one of the "brides" to a 3rd person observation of her desolate parents watching from the grandstand. There are many virtuoso set pieces like this, many quick sharp asides like the recitation of of brands (Midori, Kirin , Suntory) which becomes an "esperanto of jetlag." Yet nothing -- or not enough -- connects these elements. They remain alone, disjointed, like the hooded hostage in the Beirut basement. Perhaps this is the point, but gears that mesh and move without making a change are not part of the mechanism.read more
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Reviews

This is a Typical DeLillo - which is by no means bad. On the contrary.

First, I'd like to say that DeLillo's writing style is as ornate and expressive as ever.

This is more of a rambling discussion, a loose connection of thoughts on crowds, mass movements, the Unification Church, writers, New York, baseball, terrorism, and post-modernism. Sometimes DeLillo goes for multi-page conversations, and sometimes for little aphorisms which you can repeat to impress your friends and sound wise.

Again, the usual caveat with DeLillo: it's not really a novel so much as it is a collection of elements with the most tenuous connection of plot. It may almost tempt you to call it 'dull' and give up, but then you're jerked awake by a turn of phrase or insight. His musings on crowds and mass movements are intensely fascinating. The Ayatollah and Mao and Reverend Moon scenes are probably the best in the book.

So if you're a devotee or dewy-eyed admirer, go right ahead.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love this author and his insights but I do noy always understand where it is going. I read this after White Noise and I will some more of his books.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I bought this five days ago, and am about 100 pages in. My impressions: Finely written, closely observed, jam-packed with thought, and I doubt I am going to finish it. So far the gears are moving brilliantly, but they have not connected with any mechanism that makes me care. The characters are alienated, their relationship to anything outside themselves remote. (1.31.2007)So I finished it. Thanks largely to a couple of long plane rides. Either I called it early or I was a prisoner of my early bias, but it did run to type. It didn't end with a bang, or a whimper, but more of the slow hiss of air escaping from a punctured balloon. The initial scene is a marvel, depicting a Reverend Moon mass marriage in Yankee stadium while the narration flickers from the consciousness of one of the "brides" to a 3rd person observation of her desolate parents watching from the grandstand. There are many virtuoso set pieces like this, many quick sharp asides like the recitation of of brands (Midori, Kirin , Suntory) which becomes an "esperanto of jetlag." Yet nothing -- or not enough -- connects these elements. They remain alone, disjointed, like the hooded hostage in the Beirut basement. Perhaps this is the point, but gears that mesh and move without making a change are not part of the mechanism.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is the first novel I've read by Don DeLillo. I thought the characters and plot was good, but the dialogue was unbelievable. Every character, whether it was the reclusive writher, the Moonie girl, the cosmopolitan photographer and even the terrorist at the end, had the same way of speaking. Since it is not like any sort of real life dialogue I think it was even more obvious. Here's an example from the beginning:"Whire I live, okay, there's a rooftop chaos, a jumble, four, five, six, seven storeys, and it's water tanks, laundry lines, antennas, belfries, pigeon lofts, chimney pots, everyting human about the lower island--little crouched gardens, statuary, painted signs. And I wake up to this and love it and depend on it. But it's all being flattened and hauled away so they can build their towers"On a side note I found it eerie that a book written in 1991 that does have a sub plot regarding terrorism also mentions the Twin Towers multiple times. One of the characters hates them and it comes up throughout the book.
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I wasn't sure what to make of DeLillo's work when I first read it. There were so many strands to juggle, and all of them seemed to cry out so loud for my attention. I didn't know where to look without being told, or what to think without clear signposting. It was perhaps the first properly "modern" book I read, and I still think of it sometimes, now that I'm more comfortable with that world.
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When I was a kid, and perhaps even to this day, I believed that Bob Dylan had all the answers. A whole generation of good-intentioned folkie-activists and beatniks thought the same I suppose. The point being is that too often we put all our hope in writers, as if they will reveal everything to us. Mao II explores the cult of personality around the writer; how worship of something/someone can be analogous to terrorism or cult worship. It takes many twists and turns around this idea, revealing how broken and suffering the life of a writer can be. It only becomes more confusing when you add a really odd sexual relationship to it. Highly recommended to anyone who is fascinated by artists...a little too much.
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