“Robephiles said: 1 star
The premise is interesting, and DeLillo makes his case intellectually, but he is incredibly pretentious. There isn't a single character you can care about. They are all self hating ciphers and what little plot there is is merely an excuse to explore a sociopolitical essay. I could barely get through this book even though it is hardly beyond novella length. Reading every chapter was an absolute chore.”
“With its lean, poetic narrative, dystopian settings and darkly humorous dialouge, Mao II reads like a Cormac McCarthy novel with splashings of surrealism. This is arguably my favorite DeLillo novel.”Joe B wrote this review Saturday, October 29, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Don DeLillo understands contemporary global society. He just does. On September 11, 2001, I'm sure he was just as upset by the attacks as everyone else, but everyone else was very surprised, and I bet DeLillo was not. He knew enough about the world to see that this was going to happen.
Continuing that idea, it really is crazy that this was written at the start of the 90s. There are discussions of terrorism and of mass death followed by scenes of characters staring longingly at the World Trade Centers. But that's not so crazy, weren't there previous attacks? Oh, that was in 1993, I just checked. So DeLillo is just magic, I guess. This examination isn't very important; I'm going to stop.
Crowds and terrorism are the topics here, I'm seeing. It is not a very subtle novel; much of it is discussion of the themes instead of just portraying them. And this isn't a bad thing. DeLillo likes these themes; there are talks of crowds and mass danger in both White Noise and Underworld. But I liked those novels more than I like this one.
This was clearly a brilliant novel. DeLillo clearly has a lucidity to our society that may be unmatched. But of his novels, this one is the least emotional. This is an intellectual novel, maybe the best intellectual novels I've read, but an intellectual novel is not the same as an emotional novel. I do not love anyone in this novel. I do not even hate anyone. I am enraptured by the ideas, but not by the people themselves. This may be a particularity of my own, but I read in order to feel, and while thinking may be a great side effect, feeling should be the prime focus. But that's not the prime focus here, clearly, and I won't pretend that it was. That's why I'm giving it four stars.
Two scenes here stick out as wonderfully brilliant. The first is Karen's observation of Khomeini's funeral, which I had to google to make sure was a real event. The masses pouring themselves into the grave, and Karen's disbelief that American society could continue in world where this is happening. "Why do we still have names and addresses and car keys?" she asks.
The second scene I loved was Bill's description of his injuries to the two veterinarians. Firstly, Bill disguises himself as an unimportant writer instead of being the important writer he is. Secondly, he uses the guise of a character instead of himself. Thirdly, the doctors are not even human doctors; they are animal doctors. Thus, there are three degrees of removal between what is actually going on and what they are discussing. This removal makes what should be a serious conversation (Bill is fatally injured) into a funny one, where the doctors suggest changing the symptoms to be more interesting, and saying that the patient could not travel because that would be "unrealistic". But Bill does travel. For DeLillo, real life is often unrealistic.
“Very complicated novel. Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel.”Laurel B Deloria wrote this review Saturday, October 8, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“And now i walk through crowds wondering why there's no terrorist attack, or why i'm not being trampled.
It took a few minutes to accept that the book was over -- maybe that sounds like a good thing. But i was expecting slightly more, like what happened with the picture?? And all the characters seemed on the verge of their individual collapses. Why didn't i get to see any of that? Every single story line is left unfinished, successfully unfinished, but still.
Five stars because i'm more unsettled in the world than i was before reading it. And i think DeLillo did that to me on purpose. ”
“I loved the first part of this book - it was well-paced, the language was beautiful, and the story and characters carried me away. The second part of the book was a bit clunkier and not nearly as transcendent, but this was still an excellent read. ”Alexa D wrote this review Saturday, February 19, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is the first Don Dellillo novel I've read, and it wasn't amazingly pleasurable or mind-blowing. Some Myth of the Solitary Novelist (satiric, I hope, but not that biting) has some slow-moving non-adventures, then travels to England and then the Middle East to get involved in a hostage dispute. Along the way, we meet his hangers-on, and ex-cult member, and someone who stalked the writer several years ago and now buys him groceries, lives in his house, and deters other stalkers. Also, some lady with one of those jobs people only have in novel--she's a photographer of novelists--gets involved and sleeps with one of them and lives with the other. No doubt she feels a little nauseated by writers by the end of the book.
Not bad, not good, too slow. Don't look for a good movie out this this one.”
“A PERFECT read for me...this novel discusses the relationship between authors/novels and terrorism, which is intellectually fascinating, particularly if you are interested in security studies (although a much different spin on the topic). If you are an avid reader or writer, I would highly recommend this book. In an age of newspapers, the internet, television, and radio, where does the classic novel fit? Or, does it fit at all? Are novels spiralling towards extinction? ”Erin H wrote this review Tuesday, January 18, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Sort of like The Grand Inquisitor, but without Christ. ”Taylor wrote this review Tuesday, December 28, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No