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Point Omega: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Dan FespermanIt's hardly a new experience to emerge from a Don DeLillo novel feeling faintly disturbed and disoriented. This is both a charm and a curse of much of his fiction, a reason he is so exciting to some readers and so irritating to others (notably George Will). And in the 117-page Point Omega, DeLillo's lean prose is so spare and concentrated that the aftereffects are more powerful than usual.Reading it is akin to a brisk hike up a desert mountain—a trifle arid, perhaps, but with occasional views of breathtaking grandeur. There is no room for false steps, and even the sure-footed will want to double back now and then to check for signs they might have missed along the way.Holding down the book's center is a pair of inward-looking men: Jim Finley, a middle-aged filmmaker who, in the words of his estranged wife, is too serious about art but not serious enough about life; and the much older Richard Elster, a sort of Bush-era Dr. Strangelove without the accent or the comic props.We join them at Elster's rustic desert hideaway in California, where Elster has retreated into the emptiness of time and space following his departure from the Bush-Cheney team of planners for the Iraq War. Elster had been recruited to serve as a sort of conceptual guru, but he left in disillusionment after plans for the haiku war he preferred bogged down in numbers and nitty gritty.Finley hopes to coax Elster into sharing that experience while the camera rolls. He envisions a minimalist work in which Elster will speak in one continuous take while standing against a blank wall in Brooklyn.Anyone recalling the Bush aide who anonymously boasted in 2004 that the Administration would create our own reality to reshape the post 9-11 world will easily detect echoes of that dreamy hubris in Elster's big declarations. As the two men float ever further from the moorings of the cities they left behind, the going gets a little tedious. One suspects DeLillo is setting them up for a fall, especially when Elster maintains they're closing in on the omega point, a concept postulating an eventual leap out of our biology, as Elster puts it, an ultimate evolution in which brute matter becomes analytical human thought.DeLillo delivers on this threat with a visit by Elster's twenty-something daughter, Jessie. From there, the dynamics of human tensions and tragedy take over, laying bare the vanity of intellectual abstraction, and making the omega point loom like empty words on a horizon of deadly happenstance.Along the way, DeLillo is at his best rendering micro-moments of the inner life. That's all the more impressive seeing as how Elster himself seemingly warns off the author from attempting any such thing, by saying in the first chapter, The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.From time to time, at least, DeLillo proves him wrong.Dan Fesperman is the author of six novels, most recently The Arms Maker of Berlin. His next, Layover in Dubai, will be published in July by Knopf.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

As nearly every reviewer of Point Omega noted, it is hard for an author of as many great books as Don DeLillo to write anything that will not be assessed in the shadow of his earlier work. They then proceeded to do so. Some critics, noting that this novella is not nearly as enmeshed with American life as the author's longer works, defended DeLillo's right to do something different. Others saw continuities with recent titles, claiming that in Omega Point, DeLillo finally achieves the mystical minimalism he sought in books like Falling Man. But many critics saw Omega Point as an attenuated version of the author's best work or, at worst, a kind of self-parody. But all seemed so fascinated by DeLillo that even if Omega Point is just a shadow of his best-known works, they were willing to stand in it for a little while.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 117 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439169950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439169957
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don DeLillo is the author of fourteen novels, including Falling Man, Libra and White Noise, and three plays. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Jerusalem Prize. In 2006, Underworld was named one of the three best novels of the last twenty-five years by The New York Times Book Review, and in 2000 it won the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the most distinguished work of fiction of the past five years.

Customer Reviews

I've only read the book once, so I sort of expected this.
The main character's anti-war rants are a little bit too straight-forward, but I don't think long time Delillo fans will be too disappointed.
Dallas Fawson
One is that the two 24 hour Psycho sections are headed Anonymity and Anonymity 2 on either side of the main desert section.
Peter Ellis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Jones on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A filmmaker tracks down one of the architects of the Iraq war in an attempt to convince him to be involved in a documentary about his role. Rather than take this thin idea of a plot and politicize it, use it as a pedastal to rant on about how wrong the war was/is, Mr. Delillo has written a very powerful meditation on time and death.

Out in the desert, under the vast expanse of sky, surrounded by geology and nature, the young filmmaker becomes enamored with the philosophical ramblings of the old man. He begins to understand that there is more to be seen than what is obvious. The war itself may be a metaphor for something even larger, more looming, but it is only suggested and whispered.

Mr. Delillo's writing, as always, is stunning. His descriptions are atomic, carefully constructed phrases that linger long after you've moved on.

This brief novel is a mystery because it is mysterious, it requires involvement. You cannot read it for the sheer pleasure of escapism, Mr. Delillo asks something of you in return. Listen, pay attention. See.

I feel strongly that Mr. Delillo is the seminal writer of our time, however his last book, "Falling Man," felt cold and distant. Perhaps it was because 911 is still so fresh in our minds that it didn't enlighten as much as it simply reminded us of the tragedy, which is still difficult to make sense of.

Delillo is at his best when writing coldly of cold people. Men and women who regard their own lives from a distance. If pure story is what you want, look elsewhere. If you appreciate intelligent and insightful writing, Point Omega is a book that demands to be read and re-read.
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Format: Hardcover
If our descendants are reading serious fiction hundreds of years from now, they would do well to revisit the work of Don DeLillo to seek out insights into the temper of our times. In an impressive body of work created over some 40 years, DeLillo has demonstrated an uncanny ability to tap into our collective psyche and explain us to ourselves. That talent surfaces again in his latest novel, a spare exploration of the mysteries of time and space.

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.
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Duvernois on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a hard book to love. It's easy to respect the brilliant author whose thick works (e.g. Underworld) and thin works (e.g. Body Artist) have been seen as prophetic markers along the dark and twisted path of American paranoia, greed, and spectacle. But the humor is very dark, and the humanity is very thin in DeLillo's recent works. And this is where I start with Point Omega. Dehumanized with few laughs on display among the small-scale movements and moments of the novel. It's a long, long way from the fleshy, earthy, body functions of White Noise. But it's been a long journey for this country as well.

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.
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