A New Title about the Fiction of Don DeLillo

By | August 18, 2010

Continuum has recently published an edited collection examining Don Delillo's fiction entitled, Terrorism, Media and the Ethics of Fiction. This collection of essays offers insight into the ethical implications of Delillo's striking and unabashed critique of our society, specifically the mass media we hold so near and dear. One might wonder what Delillo himself might have to say about all this, and one might be forced to imagine that DeLillo wouldn't have much to say at all. He can't exactly be called a recluse. If infrequent, he does make public appearances to give readings or interviews. His persona isn't shrouded in mystery as say Salinger or Pynchon, but he certainly avoids the spotlight.

Examine the cover for a moment…a large, clear and relatively recent photograph shows a thoughtful author in his home office. But in interviews, his tone is brusque and he always seems to be hurrying to get it over with. In a New York Times review of his most recent fiction work, it was noted:  "People know what he looks like: a slight, reserved man, now going gray, with an intense, serious expression. “I only smile when I’m alone,” he said recently, not smiling. While his comment might cause us to chuckle inside, DeLillo can certainly be commended for sticking to his guns.

His novels are mainly about avoiding farce, about escaping from mass media and exposing its evils, no one would dare call him a hypocrite since he seems to be following that doctrine exactly. Earlier this year, DeLillo joined E.L Doctorow, A.M. Holmes and Edward Albee on the steps of the New York Public library to speak out against the 11-year imprisonment of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, charged with inciting subversion against the state. Like his protagonists, DeLillo avoids the spotlight, yet still manages to get his point across.

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