on January 26, 2010
I've been a longtime fan of DeLillo and so when I saw he had a new book coming out I tracked down an advance copy at the bookstore where I work. This is a slim and spare novel. Clocking in at only 117 pages, it's the smallest stand-alone novel that DeLillo has ever written (The Body Artist is the next smallest). Depending on how you look at it, there is either a lot contained in this little book...or not much at all. I say that because the story is bare bones, the plot so thin as to be almost non-existent. But DeLillo has always been a novelist of ideas first and plot second. Each of his books is a philosophical meditation on a subject, with characters and story orbiting around that. Point Omega is about the construct of time and how we experience it. How it can be slowed in certain moments and sped up in others, how it's different in different places, how we are all looking for that moment of transcendence in our life where time ceases to be and we are just there in the moment.
Now if that sounds cheesy, it's only because I'm not as good a writer as DeLillo. The novel begins with an unnamed character watching the movie Psycho slowed down so the film takes 24 hours to play out. We then are transported to the desert, where a filmmaker attempts to persuade a man who had a hand in the creation of the Iraq war to speak for a documentary he wants to make.
This is a novel that is as vast and empty as the desert in which it is set. It's easy to get lost, even among its small page count. DeLillo's prose is not for everyone. Some may criticize that he is overly intellectual, that he shouldn't be writing novels, but nonfiction essays instead. All I can say is that there is something in his writing that really connects with me. This book may not be a fast-paced thriller, but it is engaging nonetheless.
I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point if you have never read DeLillo before. White Noise would be the obvious book you should begin with.