Do you want to know why this is one of the most important books of the 20th century?" Because it's a good example of the postmodern simulacra, absurdist philosophy that plagued the latter half of the 20th century and still plagues us today. I felt bleak and empty for several days after reading this book, and I'm still recovering.
It had a lot of potential. It could have been a great commentary on life in a media-saturated society that worships safety and bright colors in the temples of grocery stores, a society that will suffocate in the toxic by-products of its own vain materialistic pleasures, conveniences and distractions.
But a great commentary would have been too meaningful and after all, this is the age of negation and disorder wherein everything is turned inside out, and to live fully without fear is to kill freely without hesitation. This is the age of futility wherein the best artists have to be indifferent or even hostile to supreme coherence and only depictions of anti-heroism will be praised and given National Book Awards.
This is a literary lunch of styrofoam, the very by-products of which seep into our drinking water and inform our cells to mutate and form cancerous tumors. This carcinogenic "art" permeates the spirit of this age. We consume it and breath it into our souls and the light that is within us grows darker, life becomes more absurd and meaningless.
DeLillo is a talented writer, but he wasted his talent in this work and missed an important opportunity to demand change. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset with his depiction of a dystopic American setting. The Toxic Airborne Event was brilliant, timely and necessary, but he never asks his readers to take even a cursory look at the causes and consequences of our toxin-producing lifestyle. And it was right there! I also take issue with his demonic proposal that there is liberation to be found in murder, that there is no immortality, that important "psychic data" can be gleamed from commercials and television programs.
Yeah, I know, it's only fiction, yeah I know, he meant something else entirely, turn it inside out and upside down and this is what he really meant, have a Coke and a Dylar and put a bullet in my head, it's opposite era!
x-posted to hipsterbookclub