Thursday Review: White Noise by Don Delillo


The Blurb: 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.

It’s really rare that I don’t finish a book. Plus a friend recommended this to me, so I tried SO hard to finish this, but I’d…no offense Karen, rather shove dull splinters beneath my nails then spend another ten minutes reading this book. 😦 Sorry.

The premise is interesting, and the book is filled with zingy one-liners that, to quote another friend from book club “made it seem like the author had a journal of witty sayings and was determined to insert every one into this book to say ‘look how clever I am.” I liked the zingy one-liners, and I have to admit to enjoying the most photographed barn in America that got its fame by being the most photographed barn in America. But I’m just too burnt out for this novel right now.

And let’s be clear, I have a Master’s degree in English and write for a living. I absolutely recognize the literary merits of the novel. I get it enough to realize the bulk of its cleverness went right over my poor, overtaxed excuse of a brain. But other than giving me PTSD-like flashes to my summer studying for the GRE: Literature in English test, it didn’t do much for me. Maybe I’m just too fresh out of school to read anything for pure literary merits. Right now I am happily devouring every young adult novel my local library has to offer for the pure joy of getting to read something that doesn’t insist upon itself. I may try again when I’m in a better frame of mind for this. But I don’t expect that to be soon.

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