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White Noise (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions) [Paperback]

Don Delillo
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Dec 2009 Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
A brilliant satire of mass culture and the numbing effects of technology, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America. Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by their love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. Then a lethal black chemical cloud, unleashed by an industrial accident, floats over there lives, an "airborne toxic event" that is a more urgent and visible version of the white noise engulfing the Gladneys--the radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, and TV murmurings that constitute the music of American magic and dread.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 25th edition (29 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105985
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 985,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

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 globe as one of the greatest writers of his generation.

Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. This is the story of his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear – his own mortality.

White Noise is an effortless combination of social satire and metaphysical dilemma in which DeLillo exposes our rampant consumerism, media saturation and novelty intellectualism. It captures the particular strangeness of life lived when the fear of death cannot be denied, repressed or obscured and ponders the role of the family in a time when the very meaning of our existence is under threat.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Don DeLillo published his first short story when he was twenty-three years old. He has since written twelve novels, including White Noise (1985) which won the National Book Award. It was followed by Libra (1988), his novel about the assassination of President Kennedy, and by Mao II, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 1997, he published the bestselling Underworld, and in 1999 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to a writer whose work expresses the theme of the freedom of the individual in society; he was the first American author to receive it. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but ultimately goes nowhere 25 Aug 2013
By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
`White Noise' is a rather apt title for this book, which could cruelly be described as 300 pages of static. Various things are described, but it doesn't actually get anywhere different from where it started. The actual writing style isn't bad, and there are often passages that are particularly perceptive or enjoyable for their humour. There are numerous set pieces that work well. But it doesn't really come together to form a cohesive whole.

I can tell this book is deep and meaningful and full of pointed comment on the human condition, and the American condition in particular. Which is great if you like that sort of thing. For me, I felt it sacrificed entertainment for intellectualism a bit too much. It is narrated in the first person by an academic living in small town America with his wife and an assortment of children. The bulk of the book describes small incidents in their lives, with a vague theme about fear of death which got tedious very fast. The middle of the book is devoted to an episode where the family is forced to evacuate due to a nearby chemical spill. The third part resumes much as the first left off, only with more angsting about life and death.

If you wanted to sit and analyse the book and its meanings, you would find plenty to discuss. It would be a reasonable book club choice. And it's not tortuous to read. But if you want to really enjoy a story, get wrapped up in it and find it hard to put down, `White Noise' will disappoint. It's not that sort of book. As I say, it's not a bad read as such, I didn't hate it, but I could quite happily put it down and forget all about it until my desire to read something else made me pick it up again in order to finish.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Who will die first?' 7 Oct 2011
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Jack Gladney teaches at the College-on-the-Hill. He and his wife Babette live, with four of their children from previous marriage (Heinrich, Steffie, Denise, and Wilder) in the quiet college town of Blacksmith. Jack and Babette are both afraid of death and it is this fear that is central to the novel. Whose fear is the greater? "Sounds like a boring life." "I hope it lasts forever," she said.

Jack and Babette's fear of death, the world in which they live and participate is conveyed satirically through a series of events (some of more direct consequence than others) which are peppered with laugh out loud moments. There's a subtlety in the observation and the writing that makes this novel work.

`The family is the cradle of the world's misinformation.'

Jack serves as the department chair of Hitler studies, a discipline that he invented in 1968, despite the fact that he does not understand German. Hitler's importance as an historical figure gives Jack a degree of importance by association: `Some people are larger than life. Hitler is larger than death. You thought he would protect you.' His colleague, Murray Jay Siskind, has come to Blacksmith to immerse himself in what he calls `American magic and dread.' Murray is a lecturer in living icons who is trying to establish a discipline in Elvis studies. Murray finds deep significance in things that are ordinary - especially the supermarket: `This place recharges us spiritually, it prepares us, it's a gateway or pathway. Look how bright. It's full of psychic data.'

The major events in the novel concern an airborne toxic event and its consequences, and Jack Gladney's search for a mysterious psychopharmaceutical drug called Dylar once he discovers that Babette is participating in an experimental study (of sorts).
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His most outstanding work by far - a masterpiece 17 April 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Reading this book staggered me: the phrasing is so spot on, the themes so unusual yet compelling, the dialogue so full of witty, off-the-wall observation that I was left marvelling at the author's magical ability to put words together in unusual yet telling combinations and searching bookshops for more of his books. But having read three others from different periods of his career (the vastly overrated 'Underworld', the execrable 'Ratner's Star' and the mixed 'Great Jones Street') I am left in little doubt that this is his chef d'oeuvre. By some fortunate inspiration, DeLillo discovered his perfect theme for this book: fear of death. He takes this theme and looks at it from all possible angles; yet this is not at all a morbid book. It is instead the funniest black comedy around: the exchange between Jack and his wife when preparing to have sex made me explode with laughter. I found the latter so hilarious that I even shared it with one of my advanced English as a foreign language classes, whose eyes were standing on stalks by the end! Last but certainly not least, DeLillo's understanding of the impact of popular culture on our minds and lives is remarkable: he forced me to make connections about the insidious influence of technology and the media that I would certainly never otherwise have made, and continue to bear in mind every time I read a newspaper or switch on my computer. If you only ever read one contemporary novel, read this one: this is the book that encapsulates our time, not 'Underworld'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely prose as always but not up there with his best
Don DeLillo is a fine writer and no reader will be disappointed by his wonderfully fluent and introspective prose which is evident once again in this book. Read more
Published 4 hours ago by Crimefan72
4.0 out of 5 stars White noise
Ann excellent exploration of what it is to live in the twentieth century, the complexities and interrelationships of the modern world, the anxieties that overwhelm us, the simple... Read more
Published 1 month ago by tina price
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversations With Himself
DDL has written something clever and funny here but it stretches definition to call it a novel, even more so than Finnegans Wake or Beckett's The Unnameable. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
The book came in very good condition and was just what was required for a book for my uni course
Published 5 months ago by Vicki
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a present
Bought as a present for my daughter when she was tacking her Masters degree in English Literature and was one of the books she was required to read
Published 5 months ago by Mr F Pine
4.0 out of 5 stars Fear of death in the supermarket
Despite it being a novel about death, the fear of death and the meaninglessness of it all, I found White Noise to be a strangely comforting read, as well as a very funny one. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr Nobody
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect
Appealing to a wide audience, this book takes you through daily life and into gun expressed feelings. Absorbing and worth reading.
Published 6 months ago by AmazingGrace
3.0 out of 5 stars Who will die first?
I read "White Noise" by Don DeLillo for my book group. I tried to read "Underworld", around the time it came out, and chose to abandon it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by nigeyb
5.0 out of 5 stars Blistering
A devastating and hilarious book. a solid deconstruction of how to cope with post-modern america and the salvation in submission.
Published 9 months ago by Muhammad Ibaad ur Rehman Alvi
3.0 out of 5 stars more impressionistic than realistic
What a strange book, not at all a conventional novel with clear characters and a plot. Much more like ambient music that a song ( notable that the original cover was designed by... Read more
Published 10 months ago by markr
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