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The Names Paperback – July 17, 1989
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"The Names not only accurately reflects a portion of our contemporary world but, more importantly, creates an original world of its own."--"Chicago Sun-Times
"DeLillo sifts experience through simultaneous grids of science and poetry, analysis and clear sight, to make a high-wire prose that is voluptuously stark."--"Village Voice Literary Supplement
"DeLillo verbally examines every state of consciousness from eroticism to tourism, from the idea of America as conceived by the rest of the world to the idea of the rest of the world as conceived by America, from mysticism to fanaticism."--"New York Times
Top Customer Reviews
So...how many languages do you speak? These expatriates I mentioned come in contact with a bizarre language cult which is responsible for a series of ritual murders in the area. Our "hero" is James Axton, a "risk analyst" who isn't exactly sure himself just who he's working for (i.e., business insurance...or CIA?). In fact, he's pretty much detached from most things in his life...his ex-marriage, his friends, Greece itself, the cult (when he finally meets them)...you name it. The Outsider. Wishing he could be part of something...never able to get past the *analysis* of risk. His inaction leads to serious consequences.
As always, DeLillo's intense use of language ultimately leads to something nonverbal.Read more ›
The novel concerns Americans living abroad, America the Myth as perceived by the rest of the world, a series of chillingly brutal cult-murders, the elusive and haunting cult itself and the concept of separation from family and on-going conflict between modern day couples. The alphabet and the metamorphosis between converging languages is also an essential component in this novel. Gripping as well is the weighty yet expertly condensed history that makes appearances. James the protagonist is a risk analyst, separated from his wife, Kathryn, who digs at archaeological sites. Their son, Tap, writes novels. Stop there. I will not give away any more about the characters involved.
These aspects provide intriguing reading material and Delillo fans will not be disappointed. For newcomers to Delillo, The Names is also a good introduction.
Perhaps what is most worthy of praise is that the prose is incandescently ingenious and profound and that this novel highlights Delillo's ability to create multitudes of characters that possess very well formed individual identities. The dialogue is also thought-provocative, believable and occasionally startling.Read more ›
I mention cults because they are at the very center of THE NAMES. In this intriguing but fraught novel, you will find cultish behavior by American businesspeople that live overseas. You will find anti-American political operatives, whose obsessiveness and secretiveness border on the cultish. And you will find one true cult, the marginal and murderous Ta Onὀmata, which means THE NAMES in Greek. Cults... this is a book about cults and their hold on certain imaginations.
I'd say DeLillo explores this cultish theme primarily through three characters. The first is James Axton, who narrates most of the book. "Something in our method finds a home in your unconscious mind," explains Andahl, a renegade member of Ta Onὀmata, to James. "A recognition. This curious recognition is not subject to conscious scrutiny. Our program evokes something that you seem to understand and find familiar...We are working at a pre-verbal level."
The second character offering perspective on cults is Frank Volterra, a film maker who thinks Ta Onὀmata would provide a riveting subject for a film. Frank, in disputation with James, says Ta Onὀmata is different from the Manson family, who murdered only to murder. "Totally different. Different in every respect. These people are monks, they're secular monks. They want to vault into eternity."
Finally, DeLillo creates Owen Brademas, a brilliant talker and archeologist. Initially, his take on the cult is: "They are engaged in a painstaking denial.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superb DeLillo. This prescient tale of post-modern terrorism is a harrowing descent into the mind & machinations of the terrorist psychopath.Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
Characters are stuffy, bland, and unrelatable; no apparent point to the narrative. Though I really enjoyed White Noise! Maybe I'll give this another try someday, but probably not.Published 1 month ago by Mark A.
This is one of those books where every sentence has a lot to say but they add up to little that is comprehensible. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dorothy
My second DeLillo book. Recently read White Noise which was outstanding. The Names was a "little different" but I did enjoy it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by BrokenArrow
Outstanding read! One of my favorite novels. Incredibly underrated in Delillo's canon and overall. The Names contains breathtaking prose.Published 10 months ago by Michael S.
I've been on a DeLillo kick for quite some time after I read Libra and I credit him for making me fall in love with fiction all over again. Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Elizabeth Lovett
This is the first Delillo novel I've read that I think I've actually enjoyed. His obsessions with American history and American mythology can be so cornily portentous that a lot of... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by jafrank
Terrorism. Mysterious murders. A sinister cult. Expatriates having wine-fueled conversations in exotic locales. Religion. Language. International intrigue. Read morePublished on February 21, 2014 by Anthony J. Gillespie