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Great Jones Street [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 17 1994 Contemporary American Fiction
Bucky Wunderlick, rock star and budding messiah, has hit a spiritual wall. In mid-tour he bolts fromhis band to hole up in a dingy East Village apartment and separate himself from the paranoid machine that propels the culture he has helped create. As faithful fans await messages, Bucky encounters every sort of roiling farce he is trying to escape. A penetrating look at rock and roll's merger of art, commerce and urban decay, Great Jones Street "reflects our era's nighmares and hallucinations with all appropriate lurid, tawdry shades" --The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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Product Description


"Brilliant...deeply shocking...looks at rock music, nihilism and urban decay." --Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books

"Luminous...finally, a novel that understands rock and roll!" --Jon Pareles, The Village Voice Literary Supplement

About the Author

Don DeLillo published his first short story when he was twenty-three years old. He has since written twelve novels, including White Noise (1985) which won the National Book Award. It was followed by Libra (1988), his novel about the assassination of President Kennedy, and by Mao II, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

In 1997, he published the bestselling Underworld, and in 1999 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to a writer whose work expresses the theme of the freedom of the individual in society; he was the first American author to receive it. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars WILL DISAPPOINT MOST DELILLO FANS Sept. 10 2000
Great Jones Street. Here we have the makings of a pop-culture satire, the promise of the rock star monolith deciphered, the power of drugs and insanity binded with classic DeLillo style, prose and what have you.
None of these are delivered to their full extent.
The protagonist is one Billy Wunderlick, in transitions between leaving his band and entering reclusiveness. Escaping from the failure of his most recent tour, he seeks reprise in an apartment situated in Great Jones Street. Then drugs get involved, mysterious characters appear, there is alot of dialogue, almost random scatterings of insight into insanity and violence.
The underlying flaw that ruins all of this is the fact that very little of DeLillo's talent, prowress, magnificent details, shocking statements, searing precision and the ingenious structure and virtuoisty that characterise DeLillo's brilliance are evident. Even at this stage, DeLillo was learning to be a writer.
The thin plot is poorly disguised by dialogue.
To be fair though, DeLillo still deserves credit. All the characters are well crafted and several of them enigmatic and thought-provoking. The dialogue is intelligent and humourous. The novel also raises disturbing quesions concerning our blind idolisation of rock stars and the power of drugs.
But hey. The whole 'story' is set in an apartment. Things happen but you still need a story.
I'll concede this much: Great Jones Street is interesting to read as a reflection of DeLillo's earlier work.
Overall, most of you will be disappointed. You'll finish the novel with mixed feelings. Subjectively, Great Jones Street was not carried to its potential. DeLillo at is best can be found in Underworld, White Noise and Mao II, Libra, the one's you've heard of and possibly read before. Save your breath. Great Jones Street is readable, occassionally insightful, quite enjoyable but very very unremarkable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Diversion for DeLillo's Faithful April 25 2000
Read the first page of Great Jones Street and you might think you've stumbled across a new DeLillo novel about Kurt Cobain. "Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide," DeLillo writes, with eerie foresight.
Unfortunately for contemporary readers, that Cobain imagery is likely to stick with you throughout this 1973 novel and become a distraction. Bucky Wunderlick, DeLillo's rock idol, is neither as tortured or talented as Cobain. As other critics have noted, his lyrics are awful. DeLillo doesn't have an ear for rock lyrics (or at least didn't in the early 70s.)
Like Running Dog, Great Jones Street is a great premise and an awkward delivery. DeLillo had yet to develop his signature style of putting subtext before story. He also hadn't developed his micro-detail style of painting an environment, which he used to such brilliant effect in describing the supermarket in "White Noise" and the Bronx of his youth in "Underworld." What we're left with is conventional dialogue-and-plot story telling -- which is what DeLillo has always done worst.
If you've read the masterworks of the DeLillo canon -- Ratner's Star, The Names, White Noise, Libra, Mao II and Underworld -- Great Jones Street is a worthwhile diversion. If you haven't read DeLillo's best, come back when you're done.
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By metheb
GREAT JONES STREET is a novel set in the 70's that is as relevant now as when it was first published. The main character - an AWOL rock musician - with shades of Dylan or Lennon attempts to escape the life of celebrity only to find his disappearing act, in mid tour, has made him that much more an enigma, raising the torch of his celebrity. With the much publicized saga of the late Kurt Cobain, an artist drained by commerce and ultimately destroyed by it, GREAT JONES STREET forshadows the struggle of artists within the system of commerce and capitalism of the United States. It is a novel about fame, and commerce, and the rights of the individual in society whether they be famous or not. It doesn't have the taught language of UNDERWORLD or the magnificent LIBRA but it is worth the time. A definite precursor to the grand themes of LIBRA, Delillo's finest novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well-Structured Early DeLillo March 3 2000
Great Jones Street is a wonderfully claire voyant novel that works sharply with themes that are of immense importance in the modern world. It is about pop arts, consumerism, the American junk culture and all the things that you can expect from DeLillo with the added element of dealing with problems with celebrity. Even when Bucky Wunderlick looks to escape from "his" life to be alone, his isolation becomes more valuable to others than it was meant to be to himself. This book deftly explores how the modern culture is dangerously obsessed with the lives of the few. Above all else, this is a more tightly structured novel than the later, greater works of DeLillo. Its opening pages lead right to the crux of the narrative and handles changes in time and place much smoother than Mao II and Underworld despite its hazy atmosphere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Objectification Nov. 22 2003
This is a great postmodern novel that really examines what it means to be human through the lenses of Bucky, the superstar who has chosen to withdraw himself from the public. In this novel, DeLillo brings up issues such as one's fear of being immobile, and thus objectified and dead; the question of human space; the changeability of human beings--"structural transposition"; humanness--what is "human"? To some extent we are like the grotesque, handicapped boy in this novel: we all have an animal side, and we all bite from time to time. This is the first DeLillo novel that I read, and I have to say that it really intrigued me and got me thinking about issues that I've never thought about before; issues that are wholly relevant and important to our lives in this postmodern, decadent world where nothing is definite.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but not one of Delillo's best
This is certainly not in the same league as LIBRA but Delillo does capture the 70's era in the East Village quite well. Read more
Published on Dec 5 2001 by Keith
2.0 out of 5 stars dated and best-forgotten
The low-point in the great man's career, the book shows little feel for rock and roll and its hippy messiah of a protagonist is almost as embarrassing as Jim Morrison himself was. Read more
Published on March 7 2000 by Milo
5.0 out of 5 stars A most ingeniously constructed novel
A most ingeniously constructed novel existing in a space defined by the coordinates of drugs, rock'n roll and Wittgenstienian metaphysics of language. Read more
Published on April 17 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A story about life as Art vs. the deadliness of commerce
This is the surreal odyssey of one who declares himself no longer a commodity. Bucky Wunderlick has become that contemptible thing,a Rock Star. Read more
Published on Dec 26 1998 by Bodhigee
3.0 out of 5 stars DeLillo before he hit his stride
As a Delillo devotee, I looked forward to seeing how he would skewer the music business. As usual, conspiracies are afoot, and the language is scintillating. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 1998 by M. Hotter
5.0 out of 5 stars Delillo's funniest
I have read all of Don Delillo's novels and Great Jones Street stands among my favorites. Although many of his works are ultimately best described as "dark" (such as Mao... Read more
Published on Dec 16 1996
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