Countless people have recommended this book to me as being the novel to read and describing Mr DeLillo as being the definitive American author of our time. I dutifully purchased the book a couple of years ago, and it has sat on my bookcase ever since, gathering dust, until I was brave enough to begin. (I love books and reading but 827 pages is a lot of heft to be carrying around.) 5 weeks ago I started it.
I read it in the staffroom at work, and one of my colleagues exclaimed how much he adored this novel, so much so that he has bought it in 5 different editions. Such passion for it seems to be quite common, I understand that it inspires a lot of respect and love. But I just find it really, really irritating. I am half way through, and I just don’t know that I have it in me to finish. Another colleague remarked yesterday that the first half was the best, and in so doing has destroyed any further desire to continue reading, so I am debating if I should just abandon it in search of juicy, delicious reads.
The writing is wonderful, of course it is. Peoples speech rhythms and intonations are beautifully captured. He sets scenes wonderfully. His male characters are believable. His one main female, Klara, is a hollow nothing, I don’t think she could exist except except in a man’s mind.
If I was to sum up his writing I would say it is detailed, and sometimes it’s way too much. He sets scenes with sentence after sentence of minutiae;
“He spread the mayonaise. He spread mayonaise on the bread. Then he slapped the lunch meat down. He never spread the mayonaise on the meat. He spread it on the bread. Then he slapped down the meat and watched the mayo seep around the edges.”
Yeah, yeah, I got it already, there was mayo!
I think that perhaps it is a boys book. There are such things. There are male writers who men and women love, and vice versa, and then there are the male writers that women generally struggle with. Maybe Phillip Roth and Saul Bellow. Maybe, I am just wondering.