[Review Box] – The Names (100 favorite novels list)

# 87  The Names, D. DeLillo, 1982.

The list so far:


My name is Don DeLillo and I want to play a game with you, dear reader. Here is book that I’ve written lately, it’s about an ancient cult that kills people and worship words and letters, also the main character is researching risks in middle eastern countries by some mathematical means. Anyway if you are interested in numbers, patters and equations you should try it. I mean it seems like that’s what the book is about, right?

And the cover looks good too…

Of course the introduction is false. And it might as well be the biggest spoiler but there is little in this book about numbers and patterns.

It’s a test of open-mindedness, a story about a man’s life, his desintegrated family, about his impressions. A collection of events, places, faces.

Forget structure. Ignore the headlines, this is not a DonBrown’s adventure. The other Don is the other Don.

Take any dialogue of the book. You can never predict the next line. It seems that Lillo had to put in enormous effort to create such randomness. He struggled so much to go against the expected.

Still the dark figures are hiding in the caves, the murders occur. No denying of that. One weird movie-maker is even interested, tries to capture it on film but only words matter in this universe.  And only ill, old people die here so it all slowly sinks into background.

From some goodreads review (by Greg):

On the sentence level it is stunning. Delillo writes sentences and dialogue like John Woo filmed violence (in his Hong Kong films, ignore that American shit). Overly stylized and very artificial but so beautiful that the lack of realism is an afterthought to the enjoyment. 

I think this is true. As for the plot it seems that DeLillo omitted that kind of structure too – this novel is like an environment in which we can choose freely our own way to go. So indulge in this book only if you are enjoying that kind of self-guiding. Otherwise it’d be frustrating. Also I’m pretty sure that is the evidence of author’s commitment to postmodernism – this work is only surface. And add author’s penchant for overestimating language, well, at least you can make out that the killings are depending on arbitrary names more than any realistic motives, reasons or conflicts. I take this piece be a postmodernist manifesto.

He slaps our hands for the natural reflex which is : when confronted with a literary work by a known author dig deep for the meaning. Language is the hero, however trivial it may sound. And that’s all there is to it. Stop digging or you’ll feel sore.

So basically:

“The alphabet is male and female. If you will know the correct order of letters, you make a world, you make creation. This is why they will hide the order. If you will know the combinations, you make all life and death.”



2 comments on “[Review Box] – The Names (100 favorite novels list)

  1. How interesting is that!

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