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White Noise: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – December 29, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0143105985 ISBN-10: 0143105981 Edition: Anv Dlx

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Anv Dlx edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105985
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (391 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Something is amiss in a small college town in Middle America. Something subliminal, something omnipresent, something hard to put your finger on. For example, teachers and students at the grade school are falling mysteriously ill:
Investigators said it could be the ventilating system, the paint or varnish, the foam insulation, the electrical insulation, the cafeteria food, the rays emitted by microcomputers, the asbestos fireproofing, the adhesive on shipping containers, the fumes from the chlorinated pool, or perhaps something deeper, finer-grained, more closely woven into the fabric of things.
J.A.K. Gladney, world-renowned as the living center, the absolute font, of Hitler Studies in North America in the mid-1980s, describes the malaise affecting his town in a superbly ironic and detached manner. But even he fails to mask his disquiet. There is menace in the air, and ultimately it is made manifest: a poisonous cloud--an "airborne toxic event"--unleashed by an industrial accident floats over the town, requiring evacuation. In the aftermath, as the residents adjust to new and blazingly brilliant sunsets, Gladney and his family must confront their own poses, night terrors, self-deceptions, and secrets.

DeLillo is at his dark, hilarious best in this 1985 National Book Award winner, a novel that preceded but anticipated the explosion of the Internet, tabloid television, and the dialed-in, wired-up, endlessly accelerated tenor of the culture we live in. He doesn't just describe life in a hypermediated society, he re-creates it. His characters repeat phrases, information, and rumor gleaned from television, radio, and other media sources like people speaking in code. And DeLillo has seeded the book with short gemlike episodes that demand to be read aloud, and that haunt the imagination years after their first reading: a visit to the Most Photographed Barn in America. A plane that nearly falls out of the sky. An hour in a classroom, canonizing Elvis. These vignettes are vivid and unique, yet, like the phrases from television shows that interject themselves, out of context, into Gladney's consciousness, they are strangely unconnected to one another--reflections of the lives DeLillo is showing us we lead. --Jan Bultmann --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Chairman of the department of Hitler studies at a Midwestern college, Jack Gladney is accidently exposed to a cloud of noxious chemicals, part of a world of the future that is doomed because of misused technology, artifical products and foods, and overpopulation. PW appreciated DeLillo's "bleak, ironic" vision, calling it "not so much a tragic view of history as a macabre one." January
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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

The novel is very humorous is a dark, satirical way.
Burnster
With White Noise, Don Delillo creates a powerful satire one the real nature of American culture and in influences creating it.
Oddsfish
Boring, pointless and it just ends - I didn't even realize it was the last page at first (I read it on a kindle).
Patricia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 176 people found the following review helpful By "lexo-2" on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
White Noise was the first DeLillo I ever tried to read, a few years ago, and I was disappointed; I thought it was thin and heartless and clever-clever. Then I got older, visited America for the first time and read it again, and suddenly it seemed true, oh so true. The book is full of dark pleasures: the family's hilariously misinformed conversations about everything under the sun; the now-classic episode of The Most Photographed Barn in America (it's not especially beautiful or old, it's just been photographed over and over again); the description of a cloud of poisonous gas as an Airborne Toxic Event; the narrator's manically argumentative son Heinrich; his daughter's mysterious utterance in her sleep of the magical words "Toyota Celica". And much, much more. The crisp beauty of DeLillo's writing can seem cold on first reading, but this is a function of the eerie ambiguity of the book's tone; it's neither satirical nor celebratory, it's just looking hard at these lives and the world around them. White Noise is, for my money, DeLillo's funniest book and his most death-haunted; that he balances the ever-present fear of death with a (for him) new compassion for his characters is maybe the most amazing thing about it. It gets better every time it's read, which is the mark of a classic.
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120 of 139 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure what to think of Don DeLillo. White Noise, like Mao II, like Underworld, like End Zone, is a book bursting with ideas and observations about people, the world and modern life. And some of these observations will make you see things in a new way, or at least crystallize your thoughts so perfectly that you nod your head and say, "Yes, that's exactly what I think. Now why didn't I say it like that?" Well, because you're not Don DeLillo. So give the man credit, because that's something few people can do. At the same time White Noise shows up one of DeLillo's bigger flaws: he doesn't really create characters you care about, even a little bit. Indeed, in White Noise I'm sure he didn't want to. They're not real characters at all, only a group of signifiers and commenators who all speak with the same voice and even use the same expressions, whether they are ex-sportswriters, housewives, sulking teens, or nine-year-old girls. By page 300 this gets tiresome. Intellectual insights are more memorable when they are hung on interesting and engaging characters. So while I enjoyed White Noise and am impressed with the mind behind it, I found it ultimately unsatisfying.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Conley on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Harold Bloom has said that the common theme of great American novels -- from Moby Dick to Gravity's Rainbow -- is apocalypse. Don DeLillo's genius is turning the American literary tradition on its head with tales of anti-apocalypse. Whether it's the Cold War that never runs hot in "Underworld", the Kennedy conspiracy that masks the true national decay in "Libra" or the "airborn toxic event" in "White Noise", DeLillo is a master of building fear, taking it away, then showing how the disaster distracted us from the things we should fear most.
"White Noise" is a book about death -- more specifically, our fear of death -- and how we have created a consumer infotainment paradise to distract us from our inevitable demise. But that description hardly does the book justice. There's more brilliance on any page of "White Noise" than I could hope to write in a lifetime.
DeLillo has a knack for finding deep meaning in common things -- like a supermarket. Characters are described as much by their postures and gestures as they are by words. Most of the important meanings of the book are left for readers to think on their own.
If you need a plot and lots of A-B-C action, please don't read White Noise. It's a book for people open to seeing the world in a different light. "White Noise" proves that there is nothing more reassuring than a disaster, and nothing more terrifying than the banal.
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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Hope Whiteside on November 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Technology is changing the inner experience of human beings. In White Noise, Don DeLillo shows us how this is done. Waves and radiation. Television serves as kind of new collective unconscious, creating a new inner frame of reference. Jack Gladney says at one point, "His skin was a color that I want to call flesh-toned." Stephie murmurs, "Toyota Celica," in her sleep. The TV is now a member of the family. We are moving toward a post-modern mentality.
Jack Gladney is, at best, an unlikely hero, I think. He is professor of "Hitler Studies" at a great American college; an academic who is comically humanized off of the pedestal of academia to the reader. He teaches the incarnation of death and national propaganda, and then comes home to a mundane and motley family crew of ditzy third wife, step-children, and biological children deeply rooted in the national propaganda of America. The extreme superficiality of his life is astounding. Everything is meant to *seem* significant...Hitler studies, the robes and sunglasses, the most photographed barn in America. Like so much of what we see and hear nowadays...what it's about is *sounding* like it's about something important. Everything is sense impression. Never mind what a word really means...if it *sounds* solid and strong, then that's reason enough to use it. In this way we escape from nature. We create lives that "protect" us from the things that are "out there" somewhere. "I'm not just a college professor," says Jack. "I'm the head of a department. I don't see myself fleeing an airborne toxic event. That's for people who live in mobile homes out in the scrubby parts of the country, where the fish hatcheries are."
As a metafictional Heidegerrian test, White Noise is a cross between life and narrative, death and narrative closure.
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