- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (6 April 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671577093
- ISBN-13: 978-0671577094
- Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 4.5 x 10.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,978,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Underworld Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 6 Apr 1998
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While Eisenstein documented the forces of totalitarianism and Stalinism upon the faces of the Russian peoples, DeLillo offers a stunning, at times overwhelming, document of the twin forces of the Cold War and American culture, compelling that "swerve from evenness" in which he finds events and people both wondrous and horrifying. Underworld opens with a breathlessly graceful prologue set during the final game of the Giants-Dodgers pennant race in 1951. Written in what DeLillo calls "super-omniscience" the sentences sweep from young Cotter Martin as he jumps the gate to the press box, soars over the radio waves, runs out to the diamond, slides in on a fast ball, pops into the stands where J. Edgar Hoover is sitting with a drunken Jackie Gleason and a splenetic Frank Sinatra, and learns of the Soviet Union's second detonation of a nuclear bomb. It's an absolutely thrilling literary moment. When Bobby Thomson hits Branca's pitch into the outstretched hand of Cotter--the "shot heard around the world"--and Jackie Gleason pukes on Sinatra's shoes, the events of the next few decades are set in motion, all threaded together by the baseball as it passes from hand to hand.
"It's all falling indelibly into the past," writes DeLillo, a past that he carefully recalls and reconstructs with acute grace. Jump from Giants Stadium to the Nevada desert in 1992, where Nick Shay, who now owns the baseball, reunites with the artist Kara Sax. They had been brief and unlikely lovers 40 years before, and it is largely through the events, spinoffs, and coincidental encounters of their pasts that DeLillo filters the Cold War experience. He believes that "global events may alter how we live in the smallest ways," and as the book steps back in time to 1951, over the following 800-odd pages, we see just how those events alter lives. This reverse narrative allows the author to strip away the detritus of history and pop culture until we get to the story's pure elements: the bomb, the baseball and the Bronx. In an epilogue as breathless and stunning as the prologue, DeLillo fast-forwards to a near future in which ruthless capitalism, the Internet, and a new, hushed faith have replaced the Cold War's blend of dread and euphoria.
Through fragments and interlaced stories--including those of highway killers, artists, celebrities, conspiracists, gangsters, nuns, and sundry others--DeLillo creates a fragile web of connected experience, a communal Zeitgeist that encompasses the messy whole of five decades of American life, wonderfully distilled. --Amazon.com --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Michael OndaatjeAuthor of "The English Patient"You pick up and travel with DeLillo anywhere -- the bliss of a baseball game, the meeting of old lovers in a desert. He offers us another history of ourselves, the official underground moments. He smells the music in argument and brag. He throws the unbitten coin of fame back at us. The book is an aria and a wolf-whistle of our half century. It contains multitudes.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
In the end, though, it is a work simply too expansive and too formidable to detail in a summary book review, and the sheer scale of the undertaking makes it a difficult read at times with long, long sections of incomprehensible consequence. Underworld is magnificently and fiercely written but requires stamina and persistence and will not be to everybody's taste. As a caveat (but not a criticism), it is essentially an American journey despite the parallel nuclear fears elsewhere, and some British readers may feel a little bemused or excluded.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I suppose if you took the time and considerable effort that finishing this book would require, you would have to justify that by declaring it a fantastic read. Read morePublished 14 months ago by C E Leake
This book is complete and utter drivel. In Underworld Delillo proves unequivocally that one needs neither talent nor ability to become a published writer. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Neil
This was recommended by someone whose judgement I trust, but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I read the first hundred pages, and then about another hundred pages after that in... Read morePublished 19 months ago by A. Dekker
One of the best books I have ever read. The writing is sublime.Published 21 months ago by Elizabeth Beech