Book Review: Americana – Don DeLillo

One of the last books out of my queue was Americana by Don DeLillo.

Rating: ☻☻☻☺☺ (3 of 5)

I have to say that even though this book, which was written in the 60s and published in the 70s and wouldn’t necessary be considered “modern” in the sense that it is close to 50 years old, covers an outdated America (compared to the current one whose technology is light years ahead and still gaining speed), it still rings true in almost every facet of its complex nature.

The book is basically broken up into two parts: the first part being an amusing portrayal of the American adult in the highly glamorized field of advertising, the second being the descent of one such young ad exec into the heart of America on a lackadaisical road trip to film a documentary.

DeLillo’s style is a bit droning at times. He reminded me of a combination Thomas Pynchon and Henry Miller dressed up as Hunter S. Thompson and playing solitaire at a trendy Latin cafe. Do you get that? Perhaps not.

I really dig a huge portion of the first part, especially one scene where a handful of execs are at a meeting giving a status report of current projects – words and words and words and words and not a single thing actually confirmed, denied, or even remotely and vaguely speculated on in all of it. Reminds me a lot of my company.

Before the road trip we’re treated to reminiscence of the narrator’s past. In the end, you get a full picture of how David Bell became the man he is at the end of the novel.  There’s a good deal of cheap sex, betrayal, missed connections, desire, paranoia, greed, ego-tripping, and a ton of nearly overbearing imagery.

The book reads like a first novel, but its not really detrimental to its overall appeal. You can tell the author meant to write a very good book and was meticulous it piecing it all together … but maybe he did go too far. I’ll admit, I did starting thumbing ahead to see when certain parts were going to be over – that’s never a good indication that the book’s flow is commendable.

The end of the novel descends into debauchery … but I dare you to argue that the great American Dream doesn’t descend that same twisted metal stairwell to the sewers in the end in real life.

Final thought: I liked the cruise through Dealey Plaza at the end. Sometimes I like thinking “I’ve totally done that bit”

Quotes:

“Within the conflux of shadow and time, there was room for all of us and I know I must extend myself until the molecules parted and I was spliced into the image.”

“I am falling silently through myself.”

“Sitting that close all I could perceive was that meshed effect, those stormy motes, but it drew me in and held me as if I were an integral part of the set, my molecules mating with those millions of dots.”

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