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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge, intense, beautifully written - worth the effort
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...
Published on 12 Dec 1998

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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bravura opening fades away
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...
Published on 9 April 2006 by Mr B


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge, intense, beautifully written - worth the effort, 12 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
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 
This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, Brave and Beautiful., 31 Oct 2011
This review is from: Underworld (Kindle Edition)
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. It perhaps a little too long. One or two of the characters, such as Klara, aren't completely resolved, and perhaps he doesn't make the art scene matter to us quite enough either. And yes, there were times when I wasn't sure who I was reading about.

But despite this, I'm not aware of much in life or in art that comes closer to perfection than this. Where it succeeds, it does so magnificently. Its exquisite language, its artistic imagination, its breadth of character, its ability to summon up not only events but the entire sense of experience, its exploration of other people's identities, all these things are so beautifully and grippingly executed.

Masterful, brave, beautiful. I can't praise it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Novel, 29 July 2011
By 
Mr. Joel C. A. Cooney "Joel_C" (Glasgow, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
Thoroughly deserves its place amongst novels classified as the "Great American Novel" ,such as Moby Dick. Awesome and poetic at the same time, It achieves that perfect mixture of the personal with the epic. I can't really adequately begin to describe what its really about or what makes it so special - loosely it's a history of the US through the Cold War-era, told in a sort of reverse order flashback - but that description does it no justice. If you have the patience, try this. P.S. the name is perhaps a little misleading - it's not a 'gangster' novel, "Underworld" being more of a metaphor for the interconnectedness of things and those connections being obscure and hidden.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally recognizable emotional content in Delillo, 29 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Underworld (Hardcover)
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 Hard work required!, 22 April 2007
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This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
Whoever said that a great novel had to be easy to digest? Sometimes it is rewarding to work hard at reading a novel, taking the time to absorb the beauty of the language- paying close attention to the actual words upon the page. This is no page turner, but it is incredibly rewarding if you are prepared to give it the time.

The book isn't about plot, morality, resolution or sentimentaliy- apsects of American literature that I so often find repellent- Delillo depicts humanity not emotional cliche. It goes way beyond cliche, painting an incredible and beautiful picture of the United States during the second half of the 20th Century. The interconnected nature of everything on our planet is demonstrated so effectively as to be overwhelming- it is not only what Delillo depicts that is overwhelming, but also the sheer ambition of the writer in attempting to encapsulate so many nuances of American culture in one novel.

I imagine those who have posted such dispariging reviews were expecting such a highly praised novel to a bit more of the work for them. It took a long time to get through and it's rarely easy going, but if you come to it with an open mind and can suspend your assumptions about what a novel is supposed to be, then you may find Underworld to be extrmely valuable and satisfying.
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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
This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
'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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't get too excited, 17 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Underworld (Paperback)
I loved the first chapter. The baseball game was electric. Then it meadered for pages and pages. Granted, all of his words are chosen and delivered with ace precision. Problem is, a page is a heavy morsel on its own. You get through 50 and feel full-up! I couldn't stomach too much of this "great" writing. It's now back on the shelf, for the time-being.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing achievement., 26 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Underworld (Hardcover)
A lot of the reviews here are picking up on what a "difficult" read 'Underworld' is, and to a degree I can see why - this is both a very long novel and one without a single, simple plot - yet this seems to me hardly adequate cause for criticism.
For me, 'Underworld' dazzles for a number of reasons. The most immediately apparent of these is DeLillo's prose which is masterful throughout; the novel contains chapters so beautifully crafted as to demand an immediate second reading.
Secondly, the subject is wonderfully handled, its narrative flitting through fifty years of history and back again to chart the lives of its (many) characters without ever sacrificing the detailed description which makes them believable. The result is a masterpiece of panoramic storytelling, managing to vividly conjure up both the patterns of politics and history and the minutiae of the lives which they both shape and are made of.
Thoroughly recommended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying heavyweight!, 21 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Underworld (Hardcover)
'Underworld' requires time and effort on the part of the reader, but is immensely satisfying. The story of ordinary lives lives in the shadow of the cold war, fits together like a chinese puzzle : it is left to the reader to discover all the interconnections of plot and character. I found myself rereading whole sections to enjoy the beauty of the language. Worth reading a second time!
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Underworld by Don DeLillo (Paperback - 13 Dec 1999)
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