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Americana (Contemporary American fiction) [Paperback]

3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Definately not DeLillo's best June 16 2004
At the outset of "Americana," David Bell has fairly succeeded in securing his place in the power-driven world of Manhatten advertising. At 28, he is prosperous, good-looking, and bereft of that certain purpose and emotional substantiality one must possess to be classified as a fully sensible human being. Although I am a huge fan of Don DeLillo and his deft way of weaving sentences together to produce picturesque settings, I found myself lost in the interminable stretches this book relentlessly thrust upon me. Though DeLillo's story of a man who suspends his conventional life to seek out the American Dream within the desolate wastelands of the barren midwest is an interesting and potentially good idea, the novel falls short within its cornucopia of meandering passages, causing the reader to constantly drop out of the narrative and be reminded that they are in fact reading an overly erudite author; one who spouts bombastic sentiments that may seem a bit gratuitous on occasion. If you are a DeLillo fan, and curious about this novel (since it is his first; the main reason I was compelled to read it) then go for it, but do not expect the brilliance and penetrating qualities of his later works, such as "Mao II" and "Libra." If you are new to DeLillo and unsure of where to start, stay away from this novel, because it will possibly turn you off from an otherwise prodigious talent who has thenceforth transcended the shortcomings of "Americana" to become one of the great contemporary American writers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delillo's first masterpiece May 17 2004
By A Customer
Don Delillo is an amazing writer. His prose, and the ideas contained in his novels, are so powerful they sometimes make me stop and catch my breath, and that's not hyperbole. I can't think of another contemporary author that moves me so much, with the possible exception of Saul Bellow. Reading his novels is pure joy, it's a wonder on every page, it's magic. I don't say that often.
I read somewhere that "The Names" was his first great novel, so I picked up "Americana" expecting to read the work of a budding author showing only flashes of brilliance. I found the writing and ideas expressed in "Americana" to be as fresh, brilliant, and moving as in any other book of his I've read. Delillo writes beautiful, highly intelligent novels that are also page-turners, and that's a rarity. He is, quite simply, a completely original American novelist, and "Americana" is a wonderful first novel.
Delillo should win the Nobel prize for literature some day, and I'd be very disappointed if he doesn't.
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1.0 out of 5 stars a rotten piece of "Americana" Feb. 9 2003
To make sure my brain wasn't orbiting the outer limits of literary comprehension, I took a look at the one-star reviews of Don DeLillo's recent "Underworld" and found that many echoed my sentiments about "Americana" exactly. This is the type of book you can only use big adjectives to describe, like, "incredible", "stultifying", "infuriating", "ridiculous". It's a book you should quit reading immediately once your brain clicks on and says, "this isn't going anywhere and isn't going to GO anywhere." It is easily the worst, most time-wasting novel I've ever read. It plays out like an upper-class "On the Road" (which was a pitiful book in and of itself), where a vapid TV executive named David Bell (who could be Patrick Bateman's evil, boring twin) and a gaggle of vacant sycophants go for a drive across America, filming the residents of small towns for a movie. That's the go-nowhere plot, in a nutshell. The thing that irritates me the most is that "Americana" could have been good, but DeLillo is too insistent on churning out wooden dialogue and pointless description that before long, render the book a laborious chore to read. Never mind the fact that DeLillo doesn't seem to put a moment's thought into a single line within these 377 aching pages. In spite of my own anger toward this travesty of literature, I masochistically pushed through it, knowing it would end in even more abiguity and unfunny, self-conscious "irony" than it began with. Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk can be considered disciples of DeLillo's style, but one thing sets them apart--they can actually WRITE, and maintain an audience for the duration of a novel. Read "Americana," put it on your bookshelf, so when having a get-together, you can reveal to your friends the most pathetic work ever published. Thank you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Even the best have bad days Feb. 13 2001
Delillo is possibly the most talented living writer (with Thomas Pynchon in hiding he is for sure), but this book is evidence that even the masters need practice. While Americana is filled with salient and beautiful gems of observation and many vignettes could be used to teach creative writing style, there is no novel here. There is only a disjointed series of experiences in the life of a lost soul, David Bell. Perhaps Mr. Delillo is trying to show us that any perception is fragmented and loose and that only by trying to stitch these fragments together do we begin to get to the truth. I read that Delillo is intentionally obscure and "challenging" in his fiction because he believes that in this world of info-glut the truth is hard to come by and should feel that way. That may be the case, but he accomplishes far more with this idea in White Noise, Running Dog and Underworld (to name those that I am familiar with) than in this one. Delillo is an amazing talent, but in this world of so much information, I would read one of his other works and leave this one for another time.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but diminished by time and imitation
this was the first book of his I read. It's a good novel but compard to today's world of Ellis and Palahnuik. Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by JT
1.0 out of 5 stars This is some kind of joke, right?
Much to the protests of the DeLillo fanbase, I decided to undertake his first novel. And what an undertaking it was. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2003 by T. Kapronica
3.0 out of 5 stars White Noise?
A strange novel. The first hundred pages detailing the minutiae of office life including tedious office meetings and the bizzare but highly literate memos of the mysterious... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2001 by Mr. C. Hallam
3.0 out of 5 stars White Noise?
A strange novel. The first hundred pages detailing the minutiae of office life including tedious office meetings and the bizzare but highly literate memos of the mysterious... Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2001 by Mr. C. Hallam
3.0 out of 5 stars White Noise?
A strange novel. The first hundred pages detailing the minutiae of office life including tedious office meetings and the bizzare but highly literate memos of the mysterious... Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2001 by Mr. C. Hallam
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to tell its his first
Don DeLillo is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors (even though I have only read Americana, Mao II, and Libra). Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2001 by gnossos poppadopoulis
3.0 out of 5 stars A must for fans
This was DeLillo's first novel, and it feels like a first novel. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2000 by dp
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically Readable and Utterly Relevant
Over the course of his career, Don DeLillo has grown into a force of literature. Several of his eleven novels, among them White Noise and Underworld, seem destined to become... Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2000 by Bryan Charles
4.0 out of 5 stars Another dull and lurid year
In Americana, Don Delillo's first novel, David Bell begins by claiming, "Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2000 by Amazon Customer
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