Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard hitting and witty social commentary from the 1980s - only to be attempted if plotless novels do not turn you off, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: White Noise (Picador 40th Anniversary Edition) (Picador 40th Anniversary Editn) (Kindle Edition)
The first disclaimer I believe the review needs is - the book has no plot as such. If this is a problem, you are fairly unlikely to enjoy it - as demonstrated by a myriad of one and two star reviews. On the other hand, if you are willing to devote the necessary concentration to reading the book, you will find a very poignant and beautifully executed social commentary on 1980s US, which is often quite funny, too.

The book follows a somewhat bizzare cast of characters from a minor university town, with the protagonist being the Chair of Hitler studies (which must have been much more shocking a concept 30 or so years ago than now), surrounded by his fourth wife, their brood of children (from a raft of marriages), other university staff with similarly charicatured chairs and imbued with an intense fear of death.

The majority of the book is just a recreation of their day to day conversations and most if it does not particularly lead anywhere; what it does is paint a picture of the society we are increasingly finding ourselves part of, in the meantime equally applicable in a random European country, too.

The one chapter - the longest - where there is a specific event going on, namely a toxic outbreak in the town, is in my opinion a sideline, rather than the distinguishing feature but still fits adequately into the rest of the book.

As there is no plot to follow, the book requires a much more intense concentration to get the most out of, as each small element of conversation can be said to be equally important to all the rest - so no diagonal reading here.

In essence, I feel the book to definitely be one of the more accomplished pieces of writing coming from the 1980s, even if it will not appeal to many. It adds a context to such non-fiction works as Liar's Poker: Playing the Money Markets and if you liked it, something like The Mezzanine is likely to be a good next step. Just make sure you do not read the two in parallel - that may really leave you utterly confused.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Mar 2014 02:00:31 GMT
Hi, I loved this book as well. I'm an author and am trying to drum up interest for my new book which is pretty unconventional and I am trying to find people who are open minded enough to check it out. It's free for the next few days if you fancy having a look...Symmachia

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Mar 2014 11:21:48 GMT
AK says:
Missed the free period but got it and will give it a try and post a review.
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AK
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: London

Top Reviewer Ranking: 318