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Point Omega [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2011

Point Omega is a treat: the most satisfying and least cryptic of DeLillo’s late novels’ Sunday Telegraph

Reading the fiction of Don DeLillo is an utterly original experience: powerful, prescient, perceptive. Writing in a prose that is both majestic and muscular, his unerringly accurate vision penetrates deep into the soul of America and consistently leaves readers with a fresh perspective on the world. Since the publication of his first novel, in 1971, he has been acknowledged across the world as one of the greatest writers of his generation.

Richard Elster, a retired secret war adviser, has retreated to a forlorn house in a desert, ‘somewhere south of nowhere’. But his planned isolation is interrupted when he is joined by a young filmmaker intent on documenting his experience in a one-take film. The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and isolation, is thrown into question.

Written in hypnotic prose, this substantial novel is both a metaphysical meditation and a deeply unsettling mystery, from which one thing emerges: loss, fierce and incomprehensible.

‘Another formidable construction by a very distinctive writer’ Evening Standard

‘A pared, intense anti-parable . . . so rigorous and so precise’ Observer

‘Impossible to forget’ Sunday Times


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (4 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512398
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"If "Underworld" was DeLillo's extravagant funeral for the twentieth century, "Point Omega" is the farewell party for the last decade.... DeLillo has .... written the first important novel of the year."--Michael Miller, "New York Observer"

Book Description

In the middle of a desert ‘somewhere south of nowhere’, to a forlorn house made of metal and clapboard, a secret war adviser has gone in search of space and time. Richard Elster, seventy-three, was a scholar – an outsider – when he was called to a meeting with government war planners. For two years he tried to make intellectual sense of the troop deployments, counterinsurgency, orders for rendition. He was to map the reality these men were trying to create. At the end of his service, Elster retreats to the desert, where he is joined by a young filmmaker intent on documenting his experience. Jim Finley wants to make a one-take film, Elster its single character – ‘Just a man against a wall.’ The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Finley makes the case for his film. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits – an ‘otherworldly’ woman from New York – who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and isolation, is thrown into question. What is left is loss, fierce and incomprehensible. Point Omega is a deeply unnerving and brilliant work from one of our greatest living writers. ‘DeLillo is one of the greatest living American writers’ Scotland on Sunday --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
'Point Omega' is the latest of a group of short novels or novellas that Don DeLillo has published since the appearance of the very long and much admired 'Underworld' in 1997 underlined his claim to be the best living American writer of prose fiction. All four books are short and sparely written; all are haunted by a sense of time running out.

In one reading 'Point Omega' is an existential thriller about a disappearance, perhaps a murder. In another, a warning about the dangers of looking into the abyss. In a third, it is a meditation on cultural and psychic exhaustion.

DeLillo takes an idea of Teilhard de Chardin's - the 'omega point' of absolute concentration of information and communication towards which de Chardin believed mankind was being drawn - and inverts it. The book presents an alternative to the view of technological optimists who believe in an evolution of human consciousness towards a 'singularity' - a takeoff point beyond which humanity will begin to transcend its limitations. In DeLillo's dark parable, complexity and selfconsciousness, ever-finer attention to ever-greater detail, ever-greater knowledge, lead over an event horizon into a black hole of solipsism and ultimate insignificance. For one of the central characters, human beings want to become stones again, giving up the burden of consciousness.

As a long-time admirer, I expected to enjoy 'Point Omega', but I hadn't expected it to be so good. The book is beautifully written, in what I suppose we are obliged to call DeLillo's late manner. There is nothing flashy here, and the opening section demands a little patience as the author conceals his intentions. But there is a plain continuity of thought with earlier novels - particularly 'End Zone' and 'The Names' - that makes it very much a part of DeLillo's distinctive artistic achievement. On this showing, 'late' DeLillo still has a lot to offer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Omega point 30 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I often find DeLillo's work dull and hard to digest. Having read the blurb I expected an action-packed, fast-paced novel. I didn't get it. It was only when I was mulling over the book having finished it that I truly appreciated the message behind the work. I'd now rate this as my favourite DeLillo novel. Give it a go- if you don't like it then its so short that it doesn't really matter...
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Wrinkle in Time 5 Sep 2013
By J. Ang
Format:Paperback
Delillo, the master of clean, spare prose, tackles the difficult subject of time, mortality and the mystery of human relationships in this slim novella. Despite the brevity of the story, it is framed in three parts, which some critics have observed that it reads like the 3 lines of a haiku.

The first part details a nameless character who obsessively views a conceptual art installation called "24 hour Psycho", which is a deliberate slowing down of Hitchcock's film so that it spans 24 hours. To the unnamed viewer, "the original movie was fiction, this was real." The main story forms the second part, where a filmmaker, Jim Finley seeks out a retired war strategist or "defense intellectual" Elster, who has become a recluse in the middle of a desert, in order to persuade him to be the subject of a one-take bio-documentary that objectively tells it as it is. In the blankness of the landscape and uncontained space, the two men form an unusual bond that encompasses Elster's detached daughter, who is sent to her father's by her divorced mother as an attempt to set some distance between her and a dubious suitor. The story resolves, or rather, comes full circle when it reintroduces the anonymous viewer at the same exhibit, where inexplicably, only one day has passed since we last met the viewer, though there are telltale signs that the world of intermediate story intersects with this world, which confuses and enthralls at the same time. Is this part of the slowed down time or is Delillo pushing home the point that time is only relative to our experience?
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Point Omega 27 April 2010
Format:Hardcover
This short novel is up there with DeLillo's best. The sparse prose carries great philosophical weight and the author really does help you to see the world differently. He seems to get right inside human consciousness. He's also dryly funny, too.

Perhaps not the ideal DeLillo starting point, but a great book nonetheless.

I'm curious to know who else, if anyone, is writing at this level?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Omega point 9 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
With each new work from Don DeLillo I find myself asking the same question - 'Is it as good as White Noise?' I realise that this is the wrong question to ask, and to frame my response in these terms seems faintly absurd. But I do it anyway.

Point Omega is DeLillo's fifteenth novel (or, perhaps, his first novella), and is not as good as White Noise. It is, however, an exhilarating performance, one that maintains the creative surge of Falling Man and one that is a vital addition to his oeuvre.

It's deceptively slight, but all of DeLillo's career-long preoccupations are present. I guess you could also say that it's about the Iraq war, and the long shadow this misadventure has cast. Richard Elster was the academic hired by the Pentagon to 'map the reality' the US government tried to create, to 'freshen the dialogue, broaden the viewpoint'. But Elster's story remains elusive - we never quite hear what has forced his retreat to the desert. But then perhaps we already know.

DeLillo's mastery of the language is also, as ever, a real joy - there is an extended riff on the shifting nature of 'rendition', moments where we are destabilised by his choice of words ('lighted' is preferred to 'lit'), and sentences you just wish you could have written yourself (random thoughts are described as 'small dull smears of meditative panic').
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange, unpredictable and addictive.
Although you could finish this book in a day (it's only 117 pages), it contains the same hauntingly real plots and characters that Delillo is famous for, and leaves you with a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Omega, not Alpha
This is a terrible, terrible book: self-indulgent, pretentious, without meaning or explanation and largely without action or incident. Its sole plus point is its length. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by Simon Alexander Collier
4.0 out of 5 stars Very accessible
I sometimes struggle with Delillo's work, but Point Omega is relatively easy going and a pleasure to read (preferably twice). Read more
Published on 25 May 2012 by Matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, challenging and incredibly well written
On the title page the words "A Novel" follow on from "Point Omega". This seems an almost willful act of confrontation. Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2010 by Mingo Bingo
5.0 out of 5 stars Unlimited time.
Time is the leading thread of this novel. It tells how it affects people and how people are trying to manipulate Time. Read more
Published on 29 May 2010 by Jan Dierckx
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty hard work
I read this book as a selection for a men's reading group I belong to. We don't just pick "masculine" themes or books written by men but we do try and tackle works by authors... Read more
Published on 17 May 2010 by Mr. Randy C. Barber
3.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet
We never know what to expect next from the Delillo pen. And here he lives up to all expectations and gives us? The unexpected. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2010 by Ian Edward
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointlessly depressing, hopeless and unpleasant
I was introduced to Don DeLillo's work over 20 years ago and have read all but a few of his books. Those that I've read have been either very good or great literature, the... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2010 by Ant Man Bee
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