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White Noise: Text and Criticism [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 14 1998 Critical Library, Viking
Winner of the National Book Award in 1985, White Noise is the story of Jack and Babette and their children from their six or so various marriages. They live in a college town where Jack is Professor of Hitler Studies (and conceals the fact that he does not speak a word of German), and Babette teaches posture and volunteers by reading from the tabloids to a group of elderly shut-ins. They are happy enough until a deadly toxic accident and Babette's addiction to an experimental drug make Jake question everything. White Noise is considered a postmodern classic and its unfolding of themes of consumerism, family and divorce, and technology as a deadly threat have attracted the attention of literary scholars since its publication. This Viking Critical Library edition, prepared by scholar Mark Osteen, is the only edition of White Noise that contains the entire text along with an extensive critical apparatus, including a critical introduction, selected essays on the author, the work and its themes, reviews, a chronology of DeLillo's life and work, a list of discussion topics, and a selected bibliography.

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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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The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel for English classes May 8 2002
White Noise by Don Delillo was a book that should be read by all ages. It's basic concepts that were brought out were the acts of consumerism and death. There was also some sex involved in there too. As you can see, a perfect book for the growing college student. I also liked how Delillo brought in some humorous moments when they were during his grocery shopping and watching television. This novel basically describes the typical American family and shows how this family is just as normal as the rest of us, but shows the side we never really see. I particularly like how Delillo displays Jack as this bizarre man who really focuses on death. He can't help but think about it. I really liked him in this novel because he reminds me of myself as I walk around and think "outside the box" if you know what I mean. This book constantly made me laugh, especially when the father fights with his son. That whole argument is hysterical! The book throws some good twists to American society that most of us never see. My basic thoughts on this novel are that you should read this because it will really make you laugh, and make you think about your typical day of work and life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Things are not always what they seem May 5 2002
I found "White Noise" very entertaining. It was a twist on what goes on in the average family. DeLillo does a fantastic job of creating the atmosphere of normality and contrasts it with what really goes on behind the scenes of the Gladney family. Consumerism, death, and oddly enough, humor play a huge part in the novel. It was humorous to read the conversations of the family members and picture the way they interacted. DeLillo is very insightful of the regular occurrences that take place in a family. He puts a twist on going to the grocery store and watching a burning building. He depicts what many people in American society deny today about buying material things and what they really mean to us. I favored this novel because it was not difficult to understand and the themes of the novel were easy to pick out. The criticisms tend to be a bit more difficult to get through although the Duvall essay to be quite interesting and insightful. Duvall takes specific passages and analyzes them to bring out another point of view other than the readers. I would recommend this novel to anyone who appreciates a new perspective on things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A voice from the radio says "Read This Book!" May 2 2002
White Noise is quite possibly the most enjoyable book I've ever read. Don DeLillo creates a humorous account of a middle-aged man (Jack Gladney) obsessed with death and its inevitability. In his writing, DeLillo suggests that Americans use consumerism as a way of warding of death, which is one of the novels running themes. The characters in the novel are oddly outrageous with their fanatic conversations about the recollection of trivial things like "Where were you the first time you brushed your teeth with your finger?" or "Where were you when James Dean died?" The dialogue throughout the novel is brilliant and at one point, a father-son conversation about rain coaxes the reader into questioning the validity of his or her own senses. The novel also shows how people are infatuated by televised disastrous events. White Noise reads like a demented sitcom, full of dark comedy, and unique neurotic characters that keep you entertained and interested through its entirety. If you enjoy comical and creative writing, then read this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Finally April 30 2002
By Kerry
Finally an enjoyable book. This book introduced me to a new twist on American thinking. I never knew about the little things that American families worried about. White Noise explicates how a "normal" family is perceived, and what really goes on in the home. I never realized that a man would change the way he dresses just because of the job that he holds. This is what Jack did, He was a professor of Hitler studies at the college. He would wear eye glasses and a robe to make himself look the part. DeLillo's characters are an excellent pick. For example, the way he made the oldest son always argue with his father was hilarious. The hilarity in this book kept me wanting to read more.
Also, I never realized the obsession that Americans have with death. Especially back then, if some sort of a doctor or anyone really for that fact, told a person that they were going to die, they believed them. Now we get second and third opinions from doctors to make sure they are accurate. This wasn't so in this book. As soon as someone told Jack (the main character) that he was going to die, he believed him.
Overall I believe this book was very entertaining. I never wanted to put it down, and for me that is very important when deciding which book to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book April 24 2002
First of all this book was easy to read. It was well written and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. It kept my interest and didn't allow me to fall asleep every ten minutes because of boredom. For me, this is a very important aspect of this book, and I would think it is for many other readers. Second, this book was very funny. This is the biggest reason it kept my interest so well. For example, the ways Jack shows his obsession with death is very amusing. Also, the way DeLillo uses the supermarket as a criticism of American society is very funny. Almost everybody loves a good comedy, and if you are one of these people then this book is for you. Finally, this book was a great criticism on society. It really makes you think about the purpose of life. It makes you wonder if we are all living meaningless lives? Should we change the way we live so our lives are no longer meaningless? Who decides weather we are living a meaningless life or not, and how do we know if we have changed from a meaningless life to a meaningful life?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty
This book was required reading in my college literature class at Auburn University. I enjoyed this book more than any of the other books required (Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary,... Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by Ryan Belcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Should we be laughing?
This book has a very humorous touch to it, while questioning our culture. The book is the story of a typical family, living in this commercialistic society. Read more
Published on May 9 2002 by Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars White Noise
Many peole do not look at their culture and find it humorous. However, DeLillo is able to do this, and quite well. Read more
Published on May 2 2002 by Katherine Caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars strangely a classic
Don Delillo, author of White Noise, wrote a classic with this book. A story about a family consumed with fear of death didn't seem like one I wanted to read, but when you get into... Read more
Published on May 2 2002 by emily
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
The book was very easy to read and understand. The main themes of the book were easy to find, you didn't have to think to hard to figure out what they were. Read more
Published on April 29 2002 by sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book to Read
White Noise is honestly the best book I have ever read. The book by Don Delillo is based around an average suburban family named the Gladney's. Read more
Published on April 24 2002 by Jenifer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book
'White Noise' is hard to summarize in a brief review...it's morbid, apocalyptic, insanely funny, and beautifully strange all at once. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2001 by "cornell_boy"
5.0 out of 5 stars Amidst the Noise...beautiful language...strong ideas
One of the great works of Postmodernism...what's that mean...Postmodernism? Who knows, and who cares. What matters is that this is a great read. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2001 by M. Swinney
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