Great Jones Street Paperback – Jan 1 1994
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"Brilliant...deeply shocking...looks at rock music, nihilism and urban decay." --Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books
"Luminous...finally, a novel that understands rock and roll!" --Jon Pareles, The Village Voice Literary Supplement
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.
Top Customer Reviews
None of these are delivered to their full extent.
The protagonist is one Billy Wunderlick, in transitions between leaving his band and entering reclusiveness. Escaping from the failure of his most recent tour, he seeks reprise in an apartment situated in Great Jones Street. Then drugs get involved, mysterious characters appear, there is alot of dialogue, almost random scatterings of insight into insanity and violence.
The underlying flaw that ruins all of this is the fact that very little of DeLillo's talent, prowress, magnificent details, shocking statements, searing precision and the ingenious structure and virtuoisty that characterise DeLillo's brilliance are evident. Even at this stage, DeLillo was learning to be a writer.
The thin plot is poorly disguised by dialogue.
To be fair though, DeLillo still deserves credit. All the characters are well crafted and several of them enigmatic and thought-provoking. The dialogue is intelligent and humourous. The novel also raises disturbing quesions concerning our blind idolisation of rock stars and the power of drugs.
But hey. The whole 'story' is set in an apartment. Things happen but you still need a story.
I'll concede this much: Great Jones Street is interesting to read as a reflection of DeLillo's earlier work.
Overall, most of you will be disappointed. You'll finish the novel with mixed feelings. Subjectively, Great Jones Street was not carried to its potential. DeLillo at is best can be found in Underworld, White Noise and Mao II, Libra, the one's you've heard of and possibly read before. Save your breath. Great Jones Street is readable, occassionally insightful, quite enjoyable but very very unremarkable.
Unfortunately for contemporary readers, that Cobain imagery is likely to stick with you throughout this 1973 novel and become a distraction. Bucky Wunderlick, DeLillo's rock idol, is neither as tortured or talented as Cobain. As other critics have noted, his lyrics are awful. DeLillo doesn't have an ear for rock lyrics (or at least didn't in the early 70s.)
Like Running Dog, Great Jones Street is a great premise and an awkward delivery. DeLillo had yet to develop his signature style of putting subtext before story. He also hadn't developed his micro-detail style of painting an environment, which he used to such brilliant effect in describing the supermarket in "White Noise" and the Bronx of his youth in "Underworld." What we're left with is conventional dialogue-and-plot story telling -- which is what DeLillo has always done worst.
If you've read the masterworks of the DeLillo canon -- Ratner's Star, The Names, White Noise, Libra, Mao II and Underworld -- Great Jones Street is a worthwhile diversion. If you haven't read DeLillo's best, come back when you're done.
Most recent customer reviews
This is certainly not in the same league as LIBRA but Delillo does capture the 70's era in the East Village quite well. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2001 by Keith
The low-point in the great man's career, the book shows little feel for rock and roll and its hippy messiah of a protagonist is almost as embarrassing as Jim Morrison himself was. Read morePublished on March 7 2000 by Milo
A most ingeniously constructed novel existing in a space defined by the coordinates of drugs, rock'n roll and Wittgenstienian metaphysics of language. Read morePublished on April 17 1999
This is the surreal odyssey of one who declares himself no longer a commodity. Bucky Wunderlick has become that contemptible thing,a Rock Star. Read morePublished on Dec 26 1998 by Bodhigee
As a Delillo devotee, I looked forward to seeing how he would skewer the music business. As usual, conspiracies are afoot, and the language is scintillating. Read morePublished on Jan. 23 1998 by M. Hotter