Mao II Paperback – May 1 1992
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Don DeLillo's follow-up to Libra, his brilliant fictionalization of the Kennedy assassination, Mao II is a series of elusive set-pieces built around the themes of mass psychology, individualism vs. the mob, the power of imagery and the search for meaning in a blasted, post-modern world. Bill Gray, the world's most famous reclusive novelist, has been working for many years on a stalled masterpiece when he gets the chance to aid a hostage trapped in a basement in war-torn Beirut. Gray sets out on a doomed, quixotic journey, and his disappearance disrupts the cloistered lives of his obsessed assistant and the assistant's companion, a former Moonie who has also become Bill's lover. This haunting, masterful novel won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1992.
From Publishers Weekly
This tale of a reclusive novelist drawn back into the world by acts of terrorism reconfirms DeLillo's status as a modern master and literary provocateur.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Having said that, I will say that we are placed under great pressure to READ DeLillo, owing mainly to the fact that he wins awards and is worshipped by the literary establishment. Some people buy DeLillo in the same way they buy wine; too bad bookstores don't have bags that read, DELILLO INSIDE.
Mao II is full of beautiful aphorisms and phrases and literary terms that one might as well call hooks, or licks, or riffs. They're on every page, and they keep me reading, but it's understood that I'm reading them just to see the words on the page.
The fact is that DeLillo writes about situations and themes with considerable intellectual weight, and he uses his characters' dialogue as a vehicle (sidecar?) for his own narrative. Consequently, DeLillo will introduce you to characters who are totally indistinguishable from one another, and who speak dialogue that no human has ever spoken or will ever speak. This will annoy readers of other authors who are capable of conveying a sense of weight and consequence in their writing, while developing distinct characterizations.
Reviewers of writers like DeLillo love to insult people who do not like his books - they try to paint such people as unsophisticated rubes who are better off reading Grisham. I say, stick to your instincts. If you like books about characters who do things to cause the narrative adapt to them, do not buy DeLillo. If you don't mind characters whose verbosity would annoy even the guy waiting on the movie line with Woody Allen in Annie Hall, buy DeLillo.
For what this book lacks on plot and characterization, it makes up for it on ideals and writing style. I marvel at the words this man comes up with. With that said, by now, you may have deduced I'm a fan. And though I'd admire the writing of this book, I would also add that this one has been my least favorite of his book to date (though I'm only halfway through "The Body Artist" and I fully expect that to take bottom billing). I would point you toward "White Noise", "Underworld", or "Libra" if you are new to DeLillo's works and are itching to dig in. Though if you are a fan of what can be done with language and don't need a novel driven by plot, don't short "Mao II."
Most recent customer reviews
Mao II is a reasonably short book that is by turns about a reclusive writer struggling with a book he knows that will never be finished and the people around him, and the struggles... Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by Damian Kelleher
a salinger-esqu writer, an ex-cult member, and the most talented assistant of all time are the residents of a house in the middle of no where. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003 by Charlie Mcintosh
This is a younger, cooler DeLillo than his more recent work. Personally I think it is his best book. It is in my mind the most creative of his work. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2003 by Riley James
I can tell my friends I've read DeLillo, both White Noise and Mao II. I liked this a little more than White Noise, but since I wasn't too crazy about White Noise, that isn't... Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by Derrick Peterman
I confess: I only recently discovered DeLillo,having read White Noise earlier this year. My loss. A decade or so ago Tom Wolfe complained (in Harper's? Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2003 by Gary C. Marfin
DeLillo has done much better than this. It is difficult to care about characters that sound identical to each other, with no redeeming qualities or unique identities of their own. Read morePublished on March 9 2003 by MJN76
DeLillo takes advantage of his brilliant style of writing by with explaining a numerous of faults in our society and others, while still expressing his personal views on writers... Read morePublished on Dec 5 2002
The felt power of DeLillo's prose, the bass of the storm, the intensely concentrated recognition-scenes in the corridors of Third World terror, the null domains of Manhattan and... Read morePublished on Sept. 4 2001 by Alexander