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Valparaiso: A Play [Paperback]

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

June 13 2000
A man sets out on an ordinary business trip to Valparaiso, Indiana. It turns out to be a mock-heroic journey toward identity and transcendence.
This is Don DeLillo's second play, and it is funny, sharp, and deep-reaching. Its characters tend to have needs and desires shaped by the forces of broadcast technology.
This is the way we talk to each other today. This is the way we tell each other things, in public, before listening millions, that we don't dare to say privately.
Nothing is allowed to be unseen. Nothing remains unsaid. And everything melts repeatedly into something else, as if driven by the finger on the TV remote.
This is also a play that makes obsessive poetry out of the language of routine airline announcements and the flow of endless information.
Valparaiso has been performed by the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

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Ed Siegel The boston Globe Valparaiso may be the novelist's most satisfying work since White Noise....Valparaiso is art at its finest.

Kane Webb Arkansas Democrat Gazette [A] sugar rush of a story...Valparaiso is a terrific read.

About the Author

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In October 2012, DeLillo receives the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way We Live Now May 22 2001
By A Customer
As other reviewers have noted, it is difficult to judge a work which is essentially a blueprint for an experience in another medium -- and perhaps unfair to judge it by the standards one applies to the medium the author is best known for. Ideally a play should do what *only* a play can do that no other medium can; Delillo understands this. Here his theme of media-saturated alienation finds a heightened, poetic expression, at once more theatrical, more immediate and more accessible than his novels. For those with a little imagination looking for a highly distilled dose of Delillo that really packs a punch, look no further.
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5.0 out of 5 stars your culture or mine? Dec 18 2001
If you examine Mr. Delillo's body of work as a whole, each piece plays a part in defining his question: Where/how do we find/create meaning in contemporary society?
You (or I, on another day) may disagree with my supposition, and to be fair if his work can be pegged to a central premise, it is likely a tad more subtle and complex, but I think it is a good place to begin.
In Valparaiso, Delillo sends us on a preposterous postmodern journey to god knows where (only here, he situates god knows where in Chile). He grabs the uneasy in each of us and throws it up on the stage. "Here, look at this: Remember how uncomfortable contemporary society can make you? When's the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your spouse? When's the last time you had a meaningful thought?"
Delillo adds depth to the otherwise hackneyed proposal that our 'individuality' is merely a creation of our preferences as consumers. His characters here may not reveal their complex inner lives, but one suspects that they may be more than an amalgam of what they buy on Amazon or see on cable.
Sure maybe it's all affectation. Maybe D's being insincere in the way he poses the questions. I don't think so. I think what you'll find is a smartly crafted, mildly apocalyptic tale of suburban dis-ease. If it works well, you should feel a slight nausea at play's end.
Valparaiso is very much worth seeing performed by a smart group of actors. It is also very much worth reading.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Go for his fiction, not drama Jan. 25 2001
This is Delillo's second published play to go with (at the time, 1999) his eleven novels. It is a play in two acts with only five characters. Two of the characters, Michael and his wife Livia, appear in both actsThe basis of the play is that they are being interviewed due to a trip Michael took, thinking he was going to Valparaiso, IN and ending up in Valparaiso, Chile. This play takes on many of Delillo's usual topics, just not as well as he does in his novels.
Reviewing a reading of a play is always more difficult than a novel or a collection of short stories as you do not enjoy the work of art as it was meant to be presented to you. You can only imagine the interaction between the actors, the way the set looks, the manner and cadences of speaking. As it reads, the play is a darkly comic vision of the way Americans are developed by our media culture.
We see the development of Michael through a series of interviews of himself and his wife. Act I has numerous interviews by unnamed interviewers. In these we see Michael developing a larger sense of himself, and his worth, and the worth of his story. We see some interviewers helping him create this sense of self-importance by hanging on his every word. The media culture takes a beating in this play, as it does in most Delillo novels. They want to know everything that happened, everything that didn't happen, what he thought about what happened, what he thought about what didn't happen, what Livia thought, etc. It all has to be documented on their radio or television shows because if it isn't, it didn't happen. Act II has a single television show interview of both Michael and Livia and has an almost Jerry Springer feel to it as Livia at one point announces the child she is pregnant with is not Michael's.
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3.0 out of 5 stars DeLillo's trip to media-purgatory Feb. 9 2001
'Valparaiso', DeLillo's latest drama, is a poignant, cynical decension into the dephts and trivia of talk show-crazy America. Michael Majewski experiences his five minutes of news stardom as he gets involved in a media frenzy for having involuntarily travelled to Valparaiso Chile, while originally starting off for Valparaiso, Indiana. Being questioned about his motives for undertaking this journey and succesively yielding to the reporters' every attempt of utter exposure, his marriage and finally his very existence come under scrutiny. In the end we see all of this coming to an absurd showdown on a TV talk show, proving that to be 'real' has come to mean 'to be watched' - and vice versa. In this skillfully arranged piece, DeLillo has accomplished to create an uptempo, modern drama: humorous, brilliantly written and relaxed as it befits the genre, yet not quite as daring and ingenious as the novelist DeLillo has time and again proven to be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A darkly comic nightmare April 1 1999
This plays differs soemwhat from the way in which it was described in a story on NPR. It was characterized as the story of how being the subject of endless interviewes leads to a kind of transendence for the Michael character. However, I would describe it as a logical extension of media-centered society. There is a dream-like quality to much of the play, similar to the best parts of Underworld. The plane setting inevitably brings to mind the "gleaming silver death machine" from White Noise. It is more outwardly funny than some of his other work, or at least it could played that way. I hesitate to give it 5 stars in that I found the "Delphina" character to be poorly drawn. Otherwise a very satisfying read for Delillo fans.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars a blatantly obvious satire
Writing satire is fun and easy. As long as your work is satirical, you don't need real dialogue, well-formed characters, or an interesting plotline. Read more
Published on July 19 2002 by biz markie
3.0 out of 5 stars An airplane trip to the inner self
"Valparaiso" is a play by Don DeLillo. According to the book's copyright page, the play was first performed in 1999 at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2002 by Michael J. Mazza
3.0 out of 5 stars A better novelist than playwright
I attended a performance of Valaparaiso before reading the play. For that reason, I think I appreciate it much more than I would have otherwise. Read more
Published on May 4 2000 by Amy J. Ashcroft
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am a fan of Don Delillo and can usually defend him against most accusations of pretentiousness, unbelievable plots and dialogue and one dimensional characters. Read more
Published on May 2 2000 by Brent Woods
3.0 out of 5 stars Up up and away
As a social commentary, Valparaiso ably tackles the "one minute of fame" phenomenon, our obsession with media, our existential search for meaning in anything as trivial... Read more
Published on Oct. 2 1999 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars My review may be longer than the play itself.
I poured milk on my cereal as I began Valparaiso. My cereal was still crispy when I finished the final words of this all too short piece. Read more
Published on March 17 1999
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