“I should probably say up front that I don't think DeLillo is for me. I read "White Noise" because a friend recommended it strongly, and if she hadn't, I probably wouldn't have lasted through the first chapter. I picked up "Underworld" for free at a book swap, figuring I'd give DeLillo one more go, but I think I'm done. "Underworld" was interesting - I certainly give DeLillo credit for attempting a project of this size, with so many interlocking themes and stories. Toward the last third of the book, though,I felt like there were too many balls in play. That the attempt to link the Cold War, weapons, consumer culture, waste, baseball, surveillance, art, J. Edgar Hoover, Lenny Bruce, baseball, and the nature of luck and losing in a nonlinear narrative with multiple protagonists was just too much to manage. I left the book feeling dissatisfied, like the promise at the beginning of the novel was left unfulfilled. What stands out are particular sections, especially the prologue, the account of J. Edgar Hoover attending the Black and White Ball, the recurring Lenny Bruce shows, and the story of Moonman 157, that are brilliantly written -- sharp, observant and memorable. Overall, though, "Underworld" is somewhat less than the sum of its parts. ”Surfacing wrote this review Tuesday, September 11, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The book's first chapter is awe inspiring to say the least and is reason enough to read this book, but the rest is worthwhile too. The narrative arc that keeps the story together is that of a baseball followed from the baseball game from the first chapter (1950 - when the atomic bombs started going off and the cold war started) to 1992 - the end of the cold war. The story is much more than that of a baseball, it's about the cold war's effects on society, about how the history of America and in a larger sense, the world, is made up by all of us, not really the big leaders of companies, corporations, or governments, but by the people, the everyday. It's a massive book, but it deals in large ideas, that can't be handles in a smaller book. I think the many characters are handled masterfully and his writing it spare and eloquent, and amazing. He's one of America's finest writers and one of my favorites, and this is my best loved book of his.”joverbroody wrote this review Sunday, September 9, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“...”Celine_ wrote this review Friday, August 10, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“DeLillo's "Underworld" is a massive social novel that seems remarkably fascinated with itself. From a local view, the reader is fascinated, too. Nearly every page sparkles with textbook-ready prose; the descriptions are poetic and fresh, the recurring images and metaphors are haunting (and stay with you for awhile afterward), the narrative action progresses quickly and with great tension, and the dialogue has such an incredible rhythm that we forget that it's just words on paper. Pick this book up and read any page and you'll be satisfied. Unfortunately, though, from a global view, "Underworld" is a mess. Clearly, DeLillo had a plan as he pieced this thing together, but any reader hoping for standard narrative will be disappointed: one section, comprising more than 100 pages, consists solely of disjointed "fragments" (some only a paragraph long, some several pages long) from the points of view of various characters important and unimportant to the novel. Even Lenny Bruce and J. Edgar Hoover make appearances, here. The rest of the novel jumps around in time, picking up some characters and abandoning others, adopting no plot and no motivation for any central protagonist. As a poetic and thematic treatment of the Cold War, "Underworld" is indeed a masterpiece. As a novel, however, it does not give enough attention to character or plot to be engaging...DeLillo's a great writer, but he sometimes falls too far into his own world to be interesting to outsiders, and with "Underworld," he's created a book all at once brilliant and unreadable.”nholic wrote this review Wednesday, July 18, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A masterpiece by the American master. Only true Delillo fans may be able to get through all 900 pages, but, as always, the author rewards his loyal fans for their efforts. Hilarious and enlightening. ”Douglife wrote this review Tuesday, July 3, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Couldn't finish this one.”Bloom Radio wrote this review Tuesday, June 12, 2007. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is a labyrinthine novel, encompassing dozens of characters over decades of time. At first it feels curiously structured, but the more I thought about it afterward, the more it resonated. It is about deep rooted loss, and presonal failure. It operates on levels as intimate as the love of a sports team and as destructive as murder. And it understands that, within a given person, both can be equally affecting. As always, there is a fascination with the effect of Americana on our memories, and those memories on our lives, in terms of how we've developed into who we are.
DeLillo's dialogue is often praised, and well it should be. But his prose is beautiful, too. He seems to produce a magnum opus about once every ten years, and so here is his most recent. ”