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Underworld [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684842696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684842691
  • ASIN: B000I1VNV6
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,240,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
It took a big effort to read this - carrying around that extra weight to and from work and in planes, and having to search for the concentration to draw together the myriad threads of the storylines in the midst of the rest of my life. But I have to say that it was well worth the effort.
It is not just the length that daunts. This is not a "page-turner" in the normal sense. Whilst some sections draw you through, the majority of the text, for me, cried out to be read lovingly and for meaning - which meant that I had to slow right down to make sense of it all.
If you have the time, and energy, (and are prepared to read something almost wholly American) you should read this book. It is surely of the highest quality.
True - there were the odd fifty pages here or there which I struggled with. But that was counterbalanced with some moments of such emotion (the argument over which brother should look after the aging mother; the description of flying through the blast; the scenes of infidelity; the scene with the shotgun to name only a few) to make up for this many times over.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bravura opening fades away 9 April 2006
By Mr B
My advice: pick up this tome at your local bookshop and read the wonderfully evocative first 50-60 pages which describe a mythical baseball game at a pivotal moment in American history. Watch the game slowly unfold through the eyes of the youngster who vaults the turnstiles. Savour the descriptions of the stands going wild, the papers and programmes spiralling through the air and wonder on the fate of that coveted home run ball. And then replace your copy. For after this almighty beginning, Underworld's joys are but fleeting epiphanies. For me, De Lillo reads as if he is just trying too hard at times, and nowhere more so than in his constant reference to GenX assembly parts like linoleum and styrofoam in his descriptions. And it's such a shame because the set pieces are so huge in scale and ambition that you'd go with them, if the characters and situations didn't seem so studied, so plotted out. All the right tunes, but sadly minus the soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In Underworld Delillo finally offers characters whose engagement with a devastated millenial landscape includes an emotional reckoning that exalts them to a more humane status. While it's easy to understand the point made by creating hollowed out characters in a universe of normalized paranoia, it's more effective for the author to plant real human beings into his environment, a point demonstrated over and over again by such great apocalyptic urban philosophical writers as Juan Carlos Onetti, and even recently by Rick Harsch, author of the remarkable and unfortunately overlooked The Driftless Zone. It seems that Delillo has finally brought all his talents to bear in this latest novel.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read 12 Feb 1999
By A Customer
'Longing on a large scale' Delillo writes 'is what makes history', and 'Underworld' is very much a book about longing. About America's irresistible longing for meaning and validation, order and consequence, a collective consciousness of faith and ideal and the sub-culture, 'the lost country inside America' that is its discarded identity, its 'waste'. Delillo evokes the intensity of this longing with a vital, imagery-driven prose that is both unsettling and breath-taking. The burden of war, real and imagined and the squalor of urban decay, the casual brutality of sex and death and the vast outpouring of the Internet. I didn't feel it was overly long or ponderous. It was a joy to read as much for the richness of the language as for its sheer size and depth. Delillo's America often seems a very desolate place, a country of secrets and empty spaces, but also uncompromising and powerful. As a European I don't know if this is a book Americans identify with, whether or not Delillo genuinely captures the mood of recent history. But he does capture the fascinating extremes that the American culture represents to non-Americans, the glory and despair of ambition and, most importantly, the universal dangers of self-inflicted ignorance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massive and amazing 14 Feb 2012
Don DeLillo's Underworld opens with a baseball game at the Polo Grounds in the 1950s. The Dodgers are playing the Giants and we're introduced to the stadium through a black kid jumping the turnstiles and watching the game. In this opening salvo the point of view then switches from Cotter, the kid, to Frank Sinatra to Jackie Gleason to J Edgar Hoover. The game is a classic in American baseball history that saw batter Bobby Thomson hit a ball into the stands deep in the final innings to take the Giants to victory. It just so happens that on this day, October 3, 1951, the Soviets conduct a test nuclear explosion, and so begins two of the three intertwining themes of the novel: the journey of the baseball after Cotter manages to grab it in a scuffle, and the nuclear story that took place over the second half of the Twentieth Century. The final theme is that of civilisation's garbage; how we control and dispose of the rubbish we generate. There are other themes, art and media, religion and information, but the three mentioned above come back time and time again.

It's an incredible book, the most impressive I've ever read, if not the most enjoyable. Some parts are sublimely good. After the baseball game, for example, we are told the story of the Texas Highway Killer, a man who assassinates people by shooting them from a moving vehicle going the other way down an expressway.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Far too long
Far to long! Gave up at 60% as too boring. No likeable characters and no direction.
Published 22 days ago by K. Littlejohn
4.0 out of 5 stars encore
Touching and at times lyrically sharp and but also lurid. A great writer is able to inhabit the world around him, in DeLillo you can find the translation for a thousand American... Read more
Published 1 month ago by James Baines
2.0 out of 5 stars Underworld - overrated.
I, like many who came to this book under their own steam, was attracted to it by the sheer amount of critical acclaim it had received. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Time To Waste
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written but........zzzzzzzzzzzz
The sublime writing and ambitious non-linear structure is to be admired but ultimately this book just bored my balls off.
Published 6 months ago by Donkbettilidie
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is very very very dull.
I hated this very turgid , portentous, pretentious, dreary book a great deal. I brought it on holiday and so was compelled to soldier on to the bitter end. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JosephB
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming and Overwritten
If DeLillo was trying to write the `Great American Novel' then he surely must have known that brevity has always been the prima facia characteristic of such works. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mark Sean Tynan
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The envelope was unfit to contain this book, entirely open.
It is disappointing because it would suffice common sense and care to deliver a
book properly.
Published on 23 July 2012 by Valentinuz Matteo
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, Brave and Beautiful.
This is undoubtedly one of the truly great novels. Not just of the second half of the twentieth century, but of all time.

It is not perfect. Read more
Published on 31 Oct 2011 by Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Novel
Thoroughly deserves its place amongst novels classified as the "Great American Novel" ,such as Moby Dick. Read more
Published on 29 July 2011 by Mr. Joel C. A. Cooney
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I brought Underworld after reading White Noise which I also think is superb. Once again I was astounded by DeLillo's beautiful style & language creating such detailed scenes which... Read more
Published on 25 May 2011 by Charlie C
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