Point Omega: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, Feb 2 2010
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“A splendid, fierce novel by a deep practitioner of the form…. Enlivening, challenging, harrowing and beautiful.”—Matthew Sharpe, Los Angeles Times
"If Underworld was DeLillo’s extravagant funeral for the twentieth century, Point Omega is the farewell party for the last decade.... DeLillo has …. written the first important novel of the year."--Michael Miller, New York Observer
“A novel of ideas — about how language, film and art alter what we think of as reality. It's for readers ready to slow down and savor the words. It's for those who would watch not just Psycho, but ponder the meanings of ‘24 Hour Psycho’.”—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
“DeLillo is, without any doubt or qualification, one of the most influential, brilliant, gifted and insightful of American novelists. There are sentences in this book that are breathtaking.”—Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star
“Haunting… DeLillo slows down the whole culture, all of our repertoire of artifacts, words, and gestures.”—Greil Marcus
“DeLillo has achieved a precision and economy of language here that any writer would envy.”—David Ignatius, Washington Post Book World --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Don DeLillo, the author of fifteen novels, including Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra, has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In October 2012, DeLillo receives the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
POINT OMEGA continues the pattern displayed in DeLillo's more recent works, interspersing substantial novels (his monumental UNDERWORLD the most noteworthy) with slighter and more enigmatic ones (THE BODY ARTIST, COSMOPOLIS). The new novel settles indisputably into the latter category.
Set in 2006, most of DeLillo's brief story unfolds in the harsh and starkly beautiful California desert. There, an aging professor, a "defense intellectual" named Richard Elster, has retreated to a ramshackle house to reflect on his career and contemplate the folly of his tangential involvement in planning for the 2003 Iraq War: "We tried to create new realities overnight," he recalls with more than a trace of irony, "careful sets of words that resemble advertising slogans in memorability and repeatability. These were words that would yield pictures eventually and then become three-dimensional. The reality stands, it walks, it squats. Except when it doesn't." Describing his close encounter with that artificial world of "acronyms, projections, contingencies, methodologies," Elster confesses with disarming candor, "Violence freezes my blood."
Accompanying Elster is Jim Finley, a documentary filmmaker barely half his age, who wants to make a single take film of Elster talking about his life and career, unscripted, seated in front of the wall of a Brooklyn loft. What Elster anticipated would be a brief visit stretches into weeks as the two men spend hours in elliptical conversation musing on the enigmas of existence. "This is deep time, epochal time," Elster observes. "Our lives receding into the long past. That's what's out here. The Pleistocene desert, the rule of extinction." The arrival of Elster's daughter, Jessie, "an exceptional mind, otherworldly," as he describes her, injects a palpable tension into Finley's relationship with his subject. Jessie's mysterious disappearance and the frantic effort to find her supplies most of the story's limited dramatic energy.
The central section of the novel is bookended by encounters with an art work entitled "24 Hour Psycho," which features Hitchcock's iconic film slowed down to stretch to the length of a full day. Its unsettling presence serves to underscore the theme of time that pulsates at the heart of the story.
At its core, DeLillo's novel is fundamentally a philosophical one, calling to mind the work of Camus. The term that supplies its title was coined by the French Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. As DeLillo put it in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, he was taken by Teilhard's notion "that human consciousness is reaching a point of exhaustion, and that what comes next may be either a paroxysm or something enormously sublime."
Known for meticulous --- almost obsessive --- prose craftsmanship, in any DeLillo work there are moments of sublime writing. Most notably here, those examples focus on the rugged majesty of the desert landscape in descriptive passages like this one: "Beyond the local shrubs and cactus, only waves of space, occasional far thunder, the wait for rain, the gaze across the hills to a mountain range that was there yesterday, lost today in lifeless skies."
Although it does so at best obliquely, POINT OMEGA revisits some of the motifs DeLillo has explored in novels like WHITE NOISE and UNDERWORLD: free-floating anxiety about malign forces abroad in the world and the existence of powerful men in shadowy rooms whose desires shape our world more directly and forcefully than we'd like to admit. A less accomplished writer might deliver these messages accompanied by a whiff of paranoia, but in DeLillo's hands they're the soul of realism.
Readers looking for conventional story structure or characters sketched in more than the broadest or most impressionistic brushstrokes either won't be likely to engage with DeLillo's work or if they ever did it's probable they abandoned him long ago. But in its austere beauty, POINT OMEGA perfectly expresses the sensibility of a writer comfortable grappling with big questions and big themes, content to leave us to seek out the hints of answers in the dark recesses of an unsettling still life portrait.
--- Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg (email@example.com)
The novel is set deep in the desert, the retreat of Richard Elster, a former academic and intellectual author of plans for the Iraq War (we can picture a neoconservative talking head, Paul Wolfowitz perhaps). He has slipped under corrugated steel to avoid the news and the traffic, and perhaps a conscience as well. A filmmaker is present to record the thoughts and philosophies of Elster warning that Iraq is just the beginning, the "whisper" of horrors to come. (Though it'll be a long time, I think, before we'll see an Iraq War version of Robert McNamara's hand-wringing Fog of War.) The prognosis isn't good, but can anyone expect otherwise from this book?
I am impressed at the sparse writing, the intelligent discourse around the inertia of the setting. But I really would have liked to have had something to laugh about, something pleasurable, something to hang my hat on during a cold winter here in Minnesota. That wasn't in this book. And sure, it probably shouldn't be, but we read for pleasure, don't we? We want more than just a scathing look at our crimes and inevitable downfall, don't we? Maybe DeLillo is saying that we don't deserve that from a novel now. That shopping and eating, consuming, is our pleasure and that reading is our medicine.
I took my two aspirin and reread the book. You should read it, but I won't promise that you'll love the book or find it fun. But Don DeLillo is clearly in touch with America.
This book is austere in its writing and DeLillo's prose is beautifully economical. There is not an excess word, but at the same time the writing is vivid and frequently arresting. Although the writing is clear and very accessible, the book is not a "read" or page-turner, it needs a deliberate and attentive approach and rewards with a rich experience.
This book is food for some interesting thoughts about the influence of time, personal experience and point-of-view perception as they relate to whatever reality might be. It is another important work by DeLillo and it should be read.
Behind my house stands a strange and elusive monolith of pure granite, a billion years old, over which the sun rises each morning, that might make you believe you were living in the early stages of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". In fact, you might think at any time that an "apeman" carrying a club was going to stumble on your property (I don't mean a "golfer".) Delillo here, I think, captures what Sartre discusses in "Being and Nothingness". Nature is a mass up against which human consciousness is dwarfed as ephemeral and fleeting. There really is no meaning in Nature to the thoughts or words of men, and I'm afraid we have forgotten that this unique characteristic of humanity "knowing the other" is incredibly beautiful, but limited and, alas, probably headed for a massive transformation that might indeed be called "extinction", at least in the way we have known it. It takes little thought to understand that the complete vanishing of "Jessica" is simply the most concrete way of presenting this. This, being set up against a World of upheaval, the planning of a War, the meeting of strange men in a solitary room, all beckons the reader to understand that Elster has "given up" on consciousness and his own humanity. Elster, like Nietsche, has begun to believe "that consciousness is a disease". With Consciousness gone, time in now out of sync. There is no future, but only an endless and eternal "now", the single glimpse of an eyeball or a bird's feather at each moment as in the "Psycho" scenes. Do we remember the past? Can there be a future? These are some of the incredible "moments" built into the fabulous prose of Delillo's sometimes frightening, but always fascinating, novella.