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Mao II Paperback – May 1 1992

3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (May 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140152741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140152746
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don DeLillo is a master craftsman. The volubility of his words which seem to stream off the pages with such cadence and careful consideration is, in my humble opinion, unparalleled. Most books strive to keep the reader's attention by either constructing interesting plot or breathtaking prose, and in Mao II, DeLillo succeeds on both levels flawlessly. The story follows Bill Gray, an elusive writer who has been living in recluse for years, along with his dedicated assistant Scott and a former cult member named Karen, working on his never-ending, long-awaited new novel. Then an opportunity arises for Bill to break through his shell of personal entrapment and head to Beirut to help save a captive poet from terrorists, an excursion which proves as edifying for the reader as it does these bemused and inquisitve characters themselves. DeLillo knows how to paint his situations vividly, and has created here a magnum opus teeming with philosophical dogmas that he is more than entitled to pontificate. Read this and appreciate the sheer beauty and luster of a classic Don DeLillo novel; then go out and read everything else this man has ever written.
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Format: Paperback
Mao II is the first book of Don Delillo's I have ever read. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, getting into the minds of 63 year old writer Bill Gray and his live-in assistants, with all their human complexities, flaws, and obsessions. And along comes Brita, who photographs writers, to capture reclusive Bill's face on film and shake things up. Then, in the second half of the book, Bill agrees to go off at his publisher's request in aide of an unknown poet taken hostage. The book gets political from there, away from a world I relate to to scenes in London and Beirut with Bill, plus the here and there of his abandoned assistants, and Brita, without any sense of closure or the tightness of style and dialogue so beautifully painted in the first half of this book. In the final run, after a beginning so well rooted in American soil, I found it ultimately unbelievable that Bill Gray would face potential danger and run off like he does. I guess I feel shortchanged because I really loved these characters and would have like to see the narrative go deeper into their lives, and deal a lot less on the political level. Read it and make your own conclusions.
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By A Customer on May 7 2001
Format: Paperback
These reviews are for people who are not familiar with DeLillo, because anyone who is familiar with his work only reads these to affirm their own opinion.
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.
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Format: Paperback
DeLillo's opening scene of Mao II starts us out with a mass marriage of Korean men to American Women all under the random whim of Reverend Moon. The book dives off from there and explores themes, the insularity of the writer's life, self-imposed imprisonment, breaking free from said imprisonment, and the losing of the self to a selfless and ominous collective. DeLillo, as always, captures whatever he turns his ingenious eye towards with intellectual banter, probing literary probity, and beautiful language.
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."
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