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Point Omega Hardcover – 5 Mar 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (5 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330512382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330512381
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 1.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`Of all {DeLillo's} post-Underworld novels, Point Omega is the most interesting . . . One hundred and twenty-eight pages of theatrical, uncanny prose and its over.' --The Sunday Times

`The biggest news in literature this month is the arrival of a new novel from our favourite living American Don. Point Omega promises the usual furore of a literary event of massive global magnitude brilliant, slightly baffling (in a good way!) novel that's oddly sparse and airy but breathtakingly weighty at the same time. The really great bits of Point Omega read like the proclamations of an almost mystical being.'
--Dazed and Confused

`DeLillo is always great on the subject of film... His prose, with its stylised dialogue and minute attentiveness to effects of light, often seems to aspire to the condition of cinema, with the coolly jazzed cadences providing the score. These short sections of Point Omega, where the watcher meticulously observes his own and other people's reactions to the abstracted violence on the screen, are as sharp in their own right as you would expect. . . the handling is subtle and deft, and it works powerfully . . . The mystery itself is left hanging, but certain hints in the text, along with an elegant manipulation of the time-frame, permit a satisfying, even touching ending (though not a comforting one). It requires careful reading, but as with the man in the gallery, and as with every other aspect of this finely austere novel, the harder you look, the more you see.' --James Lasdun, Guardian

`The patient reader will uncover a devastating vein of disquiet running beneath its tomb-cool surface. As in his recent novel Falling Man, which dealt with the attacks of 9/11, DeLillo chooses to take an oblique approach to a topic that might be blinding if viewed straight on. Like a hidden picture in a bland canvas, Elster's desolation is difficult to make out at first. Once lodged in the mid, however, it is impossible to forget.' --Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times

`The brilliance of the book lies in DeLillo never once announcing that we are in Grand Theme territory. On the contrary, this unapologetic novel of ideas has its own stealthy logic . . Written in a style that is frugal, frequently staccato, yet also displaying great flashes of spare beauty, DeLillo's strange, haunting tale can be read as an extended meditation on the way we use the theoretical concepts and conceits as a bulwark against the sheer unknowingness of other people, let alone ourselves. . . . this being a DeLillo novel, there are no answers to the vast metaphysical dilemmas of temporal existence. There are only the sort of densely posited questions that take you to all sorts of challenging places where you have forgotten that fiction can actually take you.' --Douglas Kennedy, The Times

`No other contemporary American novelist writes as acutely as DeLillo about power and its corollary, violence . . . the high concepts about politics and art are seeded inot the story sinuously and the painterly rendering of the desert setting, with its `blinding tides of light and sky', imparts a wonderfully eerie atmosphere. The tone registers American relative decline, but DeLillo's powers show no sign of fading.' --Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times

`another formidable construction by a very distinctive writer'
--Evening Standard

`This is an important, post-terrorism novel not just for DeLillo, but for US fiction...DeLillo, now 73, was always an original. He has always watched and listened, taken on popular culture, the environment, waste disposal, weaponry, cultural nuance, ethnic minorities and national paranoia. His characters represent the US on the run from itself, from Iraq, from a `now' weighted by history - the now that has always, since the publication of his debut Americana in 1971, preoccupied DonDe Lillo.'
--Irish Times

'I came to the end of Point Omega and immediately started it again, because I was uncertain of what I'd just encountered. I had failed to achieve a higher state of consciousness. I felt dizzy and perplexed, but also challenged and invigorated. Those are not unwelcome feelings and, I think, proportionate responses to this book and the times it describes.' --GQ

'This elusive novel will grow in resonance as the years pass, exposing an afflicted society struggling to see the wood for the trees.' --Time Out

*****
'...at his best DeLillo's prose is as lean and purposeful as Cormac McCarthy's, though in Point Omega the irony is that this extraordinary talent is in the service of the notion that "words are not necessary to one's experience of the true life". The main section flickers in focus but there is great tension in the uneasy contradictions and this open-ended fable of the imminent apocalypse is a significant late addition to DeLillo's work.'
--Metro

'Point Omega is all about duration. The title, of course, refers to the theologian Father Teilhard de Chardin's belief that there is a point of perfection that the universe will eventually achieve. This belief has inspired countless novels, mainly in the science-fiction field, and is also unusually popular with musicians and television drama writers. DeLillo challenges this by asking what happens if you retard progress and slow things down. . . There is a lot of comedy in Point Omega, but the glacial speed of the book deliberately removes the laughs. . . Point Omega is a treat: the most satisfying and least cryptic of DeLillo's late novels.' -- Matt Thorne, Sunday Telegraph

"DeLillo has a far broader purpose, as he always does; to present a world in which perception and reality are one, and to suggest ways to navigate it. He is almost along in the mainstream of American literature in ploughing this furrow, and his continued determination to do so borders on the heroic. This strange, slight, brittle fiction is a worthy addition to an extraordinary body of work." --Independent on Sunday

"Don DeLillo's 15th novel . . .[is] also his best for years" --Tim Martin, Daily Telegraph

"A strong story with a hint of menace raises questions about the mutability of time and whether a life can ever be properly captured in words or on film." --Daily Mail

"Spare, concentrated and severely thoughtful, this book is never going to be called a light read, but at only 117 pages long, it is a perfect, invigorating mental workout."
--Esquire

"Point Omega is a short book but one that demands very slow and attentive reading; followed by a re-reading. For, surprisingly, it's both a rarefied novel of ideas and also, albeit obliquely, a murder mystery." -- Scotsman

"Not a bad place for DeLillo virgins to start."
--The List

"Point Omega may be compact in size but it resonates with big ideas." --Tatler

"Point Omega is a thing of rare beauty. Exquisite sentence follows exquisite sentence, each of them demanding instant re-reading."
--Word Magazine

`DeLillo's vision has always been unusually sharp . . . His 16th novel is his most focused yet, a pared, intense anti-parable that begins in a New York art gallery . . . DeLillo's prose is so rigorous and so precise. This is a book that is as hypnotic, if sometimes baffling, as watching Gordon's hyper-slow Psycho. Both novel and film are a reminder that it's "impossible to see too much".' --Observer

`Small in size, but large in substance.'
--Hot Press

Book Description

A brilliant new novel from one of the greatest living American writers

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes the novel to a new level. It is very sophisticated and very adult. It does not use a traditional story arc, instead leaving so much to the reader's own interpretation. But I can highly recommend it for readers who want to be treated as grown ups.
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'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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Format: Paperback
Note to the publishers, putting "A Novel" under the title of a novella does not make it a novel.

De Lillo can write really nicely and many parts of this reminded me of Coetzee and Auster. I enjoyed the way the desert captures the sense of other worldliness and isolation and how it plays with our concept of time. The heat and daze of the desert acting like some insidious drug that slowly bleeds into your mind, along with the hard liquor inducing a languid, borderline surreal head space. I started to get quite engrossed in this story as it slowly built in the desert but then it just seemed to peter out. I found it too short and this did leave me wanting more and I felt frustrated by the unresolved nature of the ending.
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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the title page the words "A Novel" follow on from "Point Omega". This seems an almost willful act of confrontation. Point Omega is not a novel, it's barely a novella, maybe even a long short story. But maybe it's length is as much a deliberate comment on the themes of the book as the words contained within.

It is an ostensibly simple premise.

A filmmaker, Jim Finley, visits an old man, Richard Elster, in a house in a desert, to convince him to be the subject of his latest film. The old man was an advisor in the Iraq war, a scholar not a warrior, whose job it was to form an intellectual frame work for the war. Finley stays with Elster for a number of days and they talk deeply. Elster's daughter, Jessie, visits and then abruptly vanishes.

This story is bookended by scenes of a man (probably Finley, but this is never disclosed) obsessively viewing an art installation called '24 hour Psycho', which slows down the Hitchcock film so that it lasts for exactly 24 hours.

And that is it.

But what you get in this intense and deeply affecting piece of writing is a study of the nature of time; how it affects us as humans, how our concept of time is affected by our locations, and ultimately how we use use our time on Earth.

DeLillo also looks at the purpose of art, and in particular film, as a medium to discuss the frailty of human existence. In this way Point Omega references his earlier short story Baader Meinhof. In themes and style it is reminiscent of his early novels such as White Noise. This is not the indulgent, wide reaching DeLillo of Underworld. This is a writer taking one specific point and using all his creative faculties to produce something crystalline.
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