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Mao II: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
While the novel is composed of characters who appear, for the most part, throughout the story, the book is structured more as a series of vingettes. Delillo deals with many themes, but the primary one, I think, is the struggle between the individual and the 'masses' in contemporary society. In this regard, he traverses the same terrain as Marcuse in "One Dimensional Man" and Canetti in "The Power of Crowds". And, he does it on a global scale: touching upon everything from a Moonie wedding, to the rise of the Ayatollah in Iran, Chairman Mao in China, and of course, contemporary American society.
Other themes are: the power of images, terrorism and the narrative power of terrorists (this is 9 years before 9/11), the role of the artist (writer, photographer, etc), true belief, teachers and apprentices, and censorship, state and otherwise. All this woven together concisely with his meticulously sculpted sentences. I often pick up this book and randomly re-read various chapters; in this fashion, I've probably read the entire book 5 times.
Lastly, I've debated with friends whether Delillo's vision in Mao II is a bleak one or a hopeful one. Like the old "Lady and the Tiger" fable, it probably comes down to who you are more than any clear answer from him.Read more ›
The weakest facet of the book is that the dialogue often sounds false. Hearing DeLillo characters speak to each other is like listening to jazz -- not about exploring the realistic mind but the deeper surrealistic mind. These characters are bigger than reality. These particular people in this book have a charm that I don't think DeLillo ever again captured. This book is beautiful and about something that actually matters. While Creative Writing degrees muddle the pool of talent in much the same way that expansion teams in baseball lessened the overall talent on each MLB team, writing about something that matters to the world is quite an act of courage. It is wonderful to see a book that creates its own artistic terms and abides by them while sizzling the senses with creativity and wit. Also, what is superior about this book -- if you are considering which DeLillo book to read -- is that it is not that long. It is as self-indulgent as Underworld in style but it is more tightly woven and thus, in my opinion, a much better book. Simply, it is a quicker read.
At this time in our history this book is useful to understand the emotional side to terror, the conformist mind, power, politics and self-respect. DeLillo was way ahead of his time this way.
While many Americans blindly support the war on terror you have a thoughtful analysis of why terror exists at all, written way before Bin Laden turned against the US.
Mao II is a great introduction to DeLillo.
And DeLillo is an expert spectator. He knows how to jumpstart the reader's eye with each sentence, record the synaptic dissonance of individuals at the edge of disquiet, in transitory spaces, in windows of departure, like a snooping harrier throwing its falcon-shadow onto the tower block, a soul built and weathered by the preceding century.
And let's face it, *Mao II* is strange territory. The author is pushing hard to bridge the nighted gulf of Third World angst, analyze and dissolve the force-fed media fictions, the sound-bites and simulations, the BBC monotone, the petty moralizing. But throughout, his troubled and troubling characters hold it all together, headstrong, witty, brilliantly in thrall to the chemical lift of DeLillo's lyrical drug (the first 15 pages of this novel, describing a young woman's sojourn into the Sun Moon cult and her subsequent de-programming, is perhaps my favorite of all this author's writing).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Seems like the author tried to emulate both Philip Roth and Saul Bellow in this book. Unfortunately, the only thing he learned from them is how to be excruciatingly,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Benzion Krick
Delillo's novels, with all of their portentous dread and paranoia about modern life, have often left me cold and unimpressed.
But somehow, I really enjoyed Mao II. Read more
An undervalued major novelist, both by academics and the public, DeLillo is fun to read and raises important issues about the pros and cons of our addiction to being part of a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Roger Conner
>>This review is imported from my blog at GoodReads<<
Coming up on the 25th anniversary of its original publication, Don DeLillo's "Mao II" continues... Read more
My third DeLillo book after White Noise and The Names. DeLillo seems to predict the future with this book in regards to group-think, terrorism, modern American culture etc. Read morePublished 12 months ago by BrokenArrow
A review by Dr. Joseph Suglia
Exactly ten years before the terrorist assaults on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Don DeLillo's Mao II (1991) compared the act of... Read more
Overall it was a struggle for to get through this one. There were a few great scenes but I never felt totally grounded in the narrative and sometimes the environment too. Read morePublished on September 6, 2014 by Michael Tapp