Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Underworld.

Back a couple of months ago I read Don DeLillo's Underworld. Over @ Oxyfication we had a discussion on the book. Sort of. I should say we discussed a few chapters. But as the book chugged onward my stamina for the discussion fell, possibly from carrying Underworld's sheer weight day in and day out. And for a person who suffers from sometimes paralyzing eye strain (my life is all screens, pretty much all the time, interspersed with occasional trips to some far-off beach to confirm that nature does indeed still exist in some primeval form) I soldiered on pretty well. I finished the book and summarized as best I could. It was easy to get lost inside the chapters. While I enjoyed the book immensely, I naively did not anticipate how difficult it would be to actually discuss such a multi-faceted tome. It would be like discussing the universe, in a way. A meaningful dissection would probably be as long as the book itself.

Now I'm re-reading it. Sort of. It truly is a wonder. It transitions so easily across such a long timeline. It moves effortlessly among a host of characters. It teases. It tastes. It's honest and huge. Did I mention it's huge?

I think my favorite sections are those involving Lenny Bruce. How real they feel. How incredibly exactly perfect and riveting and real. The stage-hush, the outrage, the frenetic talk, the daring observations. These sections represent for me the heart of the book, in a way. Lenny Bruce holds sleepless vigil over the endless depths of twentieth century dread. The rest of the characters just live it. They grapple with it largely in private, in the abstract. Lenny Bruce tries to make it tangible, and does so in public, on stage, his claustrophobia on display. He's buried alive inside it. Pounding on the coffin lid, in a way. He craves this as much as he reviles it. Garbage and explosions and loneliness and meaning.

Random. Good book.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Jason. I really want to dive back into this book.

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