This fascinating novel probes the connection between isolation and mass movements in the modern world. In doing so, DeLillo is intensely personal, creating some memorable characters, who are visually and emotionally there, on the page, in full brilliance and confusion. He also employs sublime writing, which captures experiences, images, or ideas of individual isolation or mass movements and then juxtaposes them, showing weird but profound connections. My favorite pages are 149-153, where DeLillo describes New York City's Tompkins Square in the early nineties. Then, drug abusers, the mentally ill, and the homeless turned this lovely neighborhood square into a shambling, threatening shantytown. If you missed it, DeLillo has saved the moment.
The central figure in this book is Bill Gray, an isolated writer with a wide and discerning following. Anyone who wants to write might ponder two of his insights: "Writing is bad for the soul when you get right down to it. It protects your worst tendencies." (page198); or, "It was the writing that caused his life to disappear." (page 215).