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.
on May 29, 2010
Time is the leading thread of this novel. It tells how it affects people and how people are trying to manipulate Time.
I believe that Don Delillo didn't write a novel but a long poem instead. Not modern poetry but an epos if you will or better: a play from antiquity (both limited in Space and Time). And like a Greek tragedy it has only a few characters: Richard Elster an old scientist and philosopher, Jim Finley a film maker and finally Jessica, the daughter of Richard. The main character is Time.
Richard, gloomy and taciturn. Jim, idealistic and has his head in the clouds. Jessica seems to carry a secret and is a little reclusive.
At the beginning of the novel - as a sort of introduction - an unnamed person (Elster or Finley?) - talks about a video performance at The Museum of Modern Art in New-York-City. The performance is an attempt to reach unlimited Time; The movie 'Psycho' by Alfred Hitchcock is electronically slowed down to full 24 hours. So if you stare for only a short while at the video screen it's as if nothing happens. Almost infinite or unlimited Time.
There are not many visitors to the room of the video-show and they stay only for a minute at the most. The mysterious person who explains to the reader the video performance and the behavior of the public, stays in the dark shadow of the room (Jessica?) and only now and then he/she walks around the room for a while.
Richard Elster and Jim Finley live in a house with a corrugated metal roof above a clapboard exterior and located at the edge of a desert. They only stay for a few weeks. Jim tells Richard that he would like to make a video-film with Richard as the only character. He doesn't have to say or do anything. This way a parallel is made between the video performance and the real life at the edge of the desert. Here too Jim Finley searches for unlimited Space and Time. But this peaceful situation can't go on for ever. Sooner or later real life will stand at your front door.
One day Jessica visits her father Richard. She stays for a few days. One day she disappears without leaving a trace (literally). No footprints in the dust, no tire tracks, nothing. She vanished into thin air. Maybe she was never there in the first place, she could be a ghost or a hallucination.
When all is said and done we die. We reach the final checkpoint, Point Omega. We become matter and the curtain falls
Talking about poetry: this is the last sentence from 'Point Omega',
" Sometimes a wind comes before the rain and sends birds sailing past the window, spirit birds that ride the night, stranger than dreams."