Underworld: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 1, 2007 - Fiction - 832 pages
A finalist for the National Book Award, Don DeLillo’s most powerful and riveting novel—“a great American novel, a masterpiece, a thrilling page-turner” (San Francisco Chronicle)—Underworld is about the second half of the twentieth century in America and about two people, an artist and an executive, whose lives intertwine in New York in the fifties and again in the nineties. With cameo appearances by Lenny Bruce, J. Edgar Hoover, Bobby Thompson, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Toots Shor, “this is DeLillo’s most affecting novel…a dazzling, phosphorescent work of art” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times).

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Q. So you actually read all 800 plus pages of this tome?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. So you must have enjoyed it?
A. Some parts were good, some were not. Some parts were very boring.
Q. What's good, what's boring?
A. Don does sketches of Lenny Bruce, J. Edgar Hoover, and a theme about Bobby Thomson's homerun in 1951, the ball itself. I enjoyed these. I wasn't much interested in many of his individual characters, such as Klara, Matty, even Nick, who seems to kind of be the protagonist, since he speaks in the first person, though the others don't. The book seems like a whole bunch of stories mashed together, and they don't always go good together. Don tends to jump around chronologically, in chapters and even within a chapter, so this is a new style for me, somewhat. He reminds me some of John Dos Passos in the breadth and sweep of his subject matter, but Dos Passos was more conventional in style. And no one seems to read Dos Passos anymore.
Q. So would you recommend the DeLillo book to others?
A. Well, obviously any reader has to have quite a bit of time to finish this huge book. If so, it's probably a worthwhile reading. There are some intriguing questions brought up, about nuclear waste, for one, about miracles, about the exigencies of life, philosophical or metaphysical questions. It's not your usual novel, so if the reader wants something different, here it is.

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My very favorite DeLillo novel even though I don't like baseball. I love the way he creates a binding thread of things to join all his characters together. The cover photograph of the World Trade towers is spooky...

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About the author (2007)

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. His story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

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