White Noise

Mike Parish

White Noise is a novel by Don Delillo. I am currently reading it and the book is giving me some impressions.

First off, Greg Farrell recently informed me that Don Delillo personally discredits any of his own work prior to White Noise (1985). Farrell stated, while dipping his head low and looking at me over the top of his glasses, (a look which could have only been an imitation of Delillo, I presume), “That this is where his real works start.” I’m glad I started with this book.

I bought this book a long time ago, when I used to buy books from Barnes and Noble, read them very carefully without creasing the spine or bending a page, and exchange them within a few weeks for another book. The scheme worked well for a while, but it ironically ended with White Noise, which was the only book in the five or six book exchanging stint that I couldn’t get into.

I’ve picked the book off my shelf maybe three or four times from 2004 to 2010 and I was never ready for it until last Tuesday. I recommend this book for people in their mid-twenties.

Three things that interest me in this book are Hitler, Delillo’s descriptions of everyday minutiae – descriptions which give the book an overarching air of sinisterness – and death.

Though I’m not really sure what post-modernism means, I would say this book is post-modern.

Here’s a good passage:

“In the morning I walked to the bank. I went to the automated teller machine to check my balance. I inserted my card, entered my secret code, tapped out my request. The figure on the screen roughly corresponded to my independent estimate, feebly arrived at after long searches through documents, tormented arithmetic. Waves of relief and gratitude flowed over me. The system had blessed my life. I felt its support and approval. The system hardware, the mainframe sitting in a locked room in some distant city. What a pleasing interaction. I sensed that something of deep personal value, but not money, not that at all, had been authenticated and confirmed. A deranged person was escorted from the bank by two armed guards. The system was invisible, which made it all the more impressive, all the more disquieting to deal with. But we were in accord, at least for now. The networks, the circuits, the streams, the harmonies.”

My book does not have the same cover as the one I found on Google images and I am feeling pretty envious as a result.

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