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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 Witty Aug. 6 2003
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, Gulliver's Travels, etc). This book gave excellent descriptions and amazing character development. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should we be laughing? May 9 2002
By Eric
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. It shows that our lives' are based on what the media tells us. It's strange that a book that questions so much about the way we live can also be comedic, but it does so very nicely. Why? Because Don DeLillo is a genius. He does not act as though the concepts he writes about are very important. His humor is comparable to those of us who can't stop laughing at funerals, or roar when someone trips and falls. This book is indeed a trip!
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars White Noise May 2 2002
Many peole do not look at their culture and find it humorous. However, DeLillo is able to do this, and quite well. Writing about a college professor, his wonderful wife(who takes an odd turn halfway through the novel)and his many children from different marriages(some are hers too). DeLillo is able to take all of this mans' problems and laugh at them. Don't get me wrong, this is not a completely comic novel. Being able about to make light of some crazy situations though makes this novel enjoyable, and for that, I recomment it!
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars strangely a classic May 2 2002
By emily
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 the story, you begin to like it more and more. The book is filled with humorous events and a glimpse into what people really make of the world. The characters in the book look way into simple things like grocery shopping and television. They are always thinking that the other is more afraid, constantly arguing over it without any real knowledge. The book is an easy read, and one that will keep your interest. This book is considered a satire of consumerism and technology in america, and it definately is. The characters take each of these into depth, always giving you something to look at. After reading this book, you will question your motives somewhat when you go out, either to the movies, to eat or go shopping. I truly enjoyed this book and would reccomend it to anyone.
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