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Underworld | [Don DeLillo]

Underworld

Nick Shay and Klara Sax knew each other once, intimately, and they meet again in the American desert. He is trying to outdistance the crucial events of his early life, haunted by the hard logic of loss and by the echo of a gunshot in a basement room. She is an artist who has made a blood struggle for independence.
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Publisher's Summary

Our lives, our half century.

Nick Shay and Klara Sax knew each other once, intimately, and they meet again in the American desert. He is trying to outdistance the crucial events of his early life, haunted by the hard logic of loss and by the echo of a gunshot in a basement room. She is an artist who has made a blood struggle for independence.

Don DeLillo's mesmerizing novel opens with a legendary baseball game played in New York in 1951. The glorious outcome - the home run that wins the game is called the Shot Heard Round the World - shades into the grim news that the Soviet Union has just tested an atomic bomb.

The baseball itself, fought over and scuffed, generates the narrative that follows. It takes the reader deeply into the lives of Nick and Klara and into modern memory and the soul of American culture - from Bronx tenements to grand ballrooms to a B-52 bombing raid over Vietnam.

A generation's master spirits come and go. Lennny Bruce cracking desperate jokes, Mick Jagger with his devil strut, J. Edgar Hoover in a sexy leather mask. And flashing in the margins of ordinary life are the curiously connectecd materials of the culture. Condoms, bombs, Chevy Bel Airs and miracle sites on the Web.

Underworld is a story of men and women together and apart, seen in deep clear detail and in stadium-sized panoramas, shadowed throughout by the overarching conflict of the Cold War. It is a novel that accepts every challenge of these extraordinary times - Don DeLillo's greatest and most powerful work of fiction.

©1997 Don DeLillo (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"Underworld is a page-turner and a masterwork, a sublime novel and a delight to read." (The Baltimore Sun)

There's pleasure on evey page of this pitch-perfect evocation of a half-century." (Newsweek)

"Masterpieces teach you how to read them, and Underworld is no exception." (The Seattle Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (167 )
5 star
 (76)
4 star
 (44)
3 star
 (25)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
3.9 (144 )
5 star
 (63)
4 star
 (39)
3 star
 (19)
2 star
 (13)
1 star
 (10)
Story
4.3 (145 )
5 star
 (78)
4 star
 (41)
3 star
 (19)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Arthur 07-25-14
    Arthur 07-25-14 Member Since 2011

    Ghost writer of over 100 unpublished works...;).

    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Definitely not for everyone...me included."

    Perhaps if I had taken the time to pause every few minutes to really think about the implications of each passage...the way storylines touch tangentially and the underworld theme...what's beneath, what's just behind the face...consistently recurring, I may have enjoyed the book more.

    But there's a reason I didn't. The writing wasn't interesting. Frankly, I didn't care enough to. I just didn't get DeLilo here. I couldn't follow him down. I quite enjoyed White Noise, but I can't say the same for Underworld.

    And there's no blaming the narrator here. I think Poe did really well with the characters. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for more of his work.

    Brief synopsis: Baseball. Garbage. Art. More baseball. Frank Sinatra. Serial killer. Atom bomb. Infidelity. A baseball game. J. Edgar Hoover. Condoms. Mafia. German movie. Jesuit. Baseball.

    My advice? Unless you know what you're getting into, skip this one. Also, if you're expecting postmod a la Pynchon, you won't find it here. It looks like a lot of postmodern works, with different storylines and timelines...but in my opinion that's a result of postmodern writing, not the goal.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. E. Cohen 06-17-13
    R. E. Cohen 06-17-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    64
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hard to make sense of"
    What disappointed you about Underworld?

    There are excellent vignettes, but that is all there is. It is a huge work, but just consists of unrelated snippets. I kept waiting for everything to come together but it never does. It is very confusing, so maybe I just missed it! One thing that I hated is that all of the characters talk the same way. It is not only the narration, but the words and phrases are the same, and they all have the same way of repeating themselves. It is really terrible!


    Which character – as performed by Richard Poe – was your favorite?

    Couldn't say.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, it has some great parts, that are very evocative of the time, and people. The beginning is great, but don't except it to ever again rise to that level.


    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly S Smith 12-08-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A review for those red neck readers like me"

    I allways struggle with reviews for "Literature" as opposed to a good read, I know I lack the gland needed to understand the posh books. But for those of you out there who know the answer is 42, I recommend you look elseware. The first 50 pages recaps a famous baseball game between the dogers and the giants, I struggled through that only to find out it was the prolog, I only made it a hour or two past that so if some greatness comes later I missed it. But here is one example: why does the main dude only want to fuck the nineteen years old more as he grows to hate her? Is it supposed to be saying he hates himself, or he fucks hatefully so he limits himself to those who deserve it? So he either thinks he's a schmuck or is on the look out for people he thinks are schmucks. Either way I don't want to know him, I guess you could say I'm a red neck reader, somewhere well out side of great literature.

    (The use of profanity is to replicate the mood set by the writer)

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Earl Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-19-13
    Earl Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-19-13 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hated it"

    Reminded me of an old man telling stories and trying too hard to create visuals.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth McLean, VA, United States 08-06-12
    Kenneth McLean, VA, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lost track of the characters. Quit after one-third"
    What did you like best about Underworld? What did you like least?

    The opening chapter (about 2-3 hours) was good. The segments switch points of view and its not obvious right away how the characters are related.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The opening chapter (about 2-3 hours) was good


    What does Richard Poe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I like his voice and the drama in his reading


    Was Underworld worth the listening time?

    Didn't finish it. Shame it was two credits


    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda ROCHESTER, MI, United States 01-14-12
    Linda ROCHESTER, MI, United States 01-14-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
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    681
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "disappointed"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I don't know who would like this book. It is very hard to follow and, quite frankly, not that interesting. I got through 3rd download and just didn't care anymore.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Don DeLillo again?

    Probably not.


    Which character – as performed by Richard Poe – was your favorite?

    I thought the narrator did a good job with all of the characters. It's the story that falls short.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't bother. Sorry I wasted a credit on this book.

    1 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 04-16-13
    Donna 04-16-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Underworld makes no sense"
    Would you try another book from Don DeLillo and/or Richard Poe?

    No


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    A new horror or science fiction book


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reader was ok but the story was disjointed. It was too convoluted to be able to follow.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    It is the only audiobook I ever tried that I could not finish. It was that bad.


    Any additional comments?

    I would love a refund!

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful

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