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Underworld Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 6 Apr 1998

3.4 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must-read
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Format: Paperback
An extraordinary book that offers a unique reading experience. DeLillo has an uncanny imagination and his goal to capture the inner history of the times rather than the public record of historians and politicians is a bold and ambitious enterprise that could only be attempted in a novel. In Underworld you really get the sense of the reverberations of large events in the small, and the small in the large, where the mysterious actions of an individual can be as significant and representative as the most spectacular public display because ultimately they're inextricably connected in a way that we may dimly sense in our daily lives, but which a panoramic artwork like this can actually show us. A rich tapestry that lingers in the mind.
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Format: Paperback
Don Dellilo's monumental opus sweeps over you in a tidal wave of dark and unsettling detail in a fragmented odyssey through the underbelly of America during the Cold War years. It begins at a historic baseball game in 1951 where a young black boy Cotter Martin snatches the ball from the winning strike at the moment when the Soviet Union was conducting its first nuclear tests to kick start the Cold War. The ball is a loose thread that runs throughout the novel as it changes hands. The story then picks up in the 1990s with the latest owner Nick Shay and works backward through time (which is how we see history in our lifetime, anyway). The plot and principal characters get buried beneath the multitudes that people the 800-plus pages: Sister Edgar saving the souls of the damaged and derelict of South Bronx, teenage graffiti artist Moonman 157 risking his life to tag the Subway trains, and the lone, sulking Texas Highway Killer. All the defining paranoid Cold War events are here - McCarthy, Cuba Missiles Crisis, Kennedy Assassinations, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Watergate - and some of the characters that shaped the political and cultural scene of the era make personal appearances: J Edgar Hoover, Frank Sinatra, Lenny Bruce. We scurry around in the Bronx and Harlem, drift to Texas, and then journey to nuclear plants in Arizona and bunkers in Kazakhstan to try and grasp the reality of the whole insane programme. It is a dizzying journey.
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.
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By A Customer on 26 Oct. 2002
Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback
This is a stunning novel.When you have read it, pick it up again and open it at random and read the page before you like a poem - or see the photographs which rise from the text. Let the black-and-white images flicker back and forth and see the movie.All these on-going lives, all the frames, all this reality which combines into imagery and poetry - and back again. It is full of stories - gripping stories, if you will - and yet, there is no story, just the way history and life never are A-to-Z stories. Has any other writer ever managed to so accurately and sensually convey world history and individual lives all in one hu-u-u-ge breath?
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