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  • Don Delillo's 'Point Omega'

    Tue, 02 Feb 2010 05:47

    Michiko Kakutani, over at the New York Times, has her take on Don Delillo's latest novel Point Omega... and she isn't that impressed. Kakutani reckons that "DeLillo extracts considerable suspense from his story, while building a Pinteresque sense of dread [but] there is something suffocating and airless about this entire production":

    Richard Elster, the central character of Point Omega, Don DeLillo's slender new novella, is a scholar who helped the Pentagon conceptualize an intellectual framework for the Iraq war. He is being courted by a filmmaker named Finley, who wants to make a documentary with him talking about the war. Picture Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice and some American Enterprise Institute thinkers put in a Cuisinart along with Robert S. McNamara as he appeared in Errol Morris's movie The Fog of War.

    Like many of Mr. DeLillo's earlier books, Omega is preoccupied with death and dread and paranoia, and like many of those books, it has an ingenious architecture that gains resonance in retrospect. But even its clever structural engineering can't make up for the author's uncharacteristically simplistic portrait of its hero: a pompous intellectual who shamelessly justifies sending thousands of young soldiers off to die in an unnecessary war with abstract, philosophical arguments, but who suddenly comes to know the meaning of death and loss firsthand when his beloved daughter abruptly disappears.

    Instead of the jazzy, vernacular, darkly humorous language he employed to such galvanic effect in White Noise and Underworld, Mr. DeLillo has chosen here to use the spare, etiolated, almost Beckettian prose he used in his 2001 novella, The Body Artist, and his 1987 play, The Day Room.

    And in place of the electric, highly detailed observations of American life that animate Libra and Mao II, he has substituted dreary and highly portentous musings about mortality and time. There is talk about how time feels different in the desert from the way it does in a city, talk about life versus art and art versus reality, talk about an "omega point" where "the mind transcends all direction inward" -- whatever that might mean (more...)

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