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
"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)
I loved this complex interwoven story; the well developed charaters and how real life and all its strangeness is captured. It's a portrait painted with words. The narrator's voice suits the material perfectly.
Yes, I finished it. Did not like story or characters. Boring. Long. Self important. Good writing, I guess, but needed more heavy editing. I liked the themes and how the book jumped around in time. Totally plotless though.
I really wanted to like this well-received portrait of it's times, but found it more and more draining as it progressed. I persisted to the end, and regretted it.
I thought this would be an interesting book, and the individual stories are very well told. However I'm 10 hours into it and am so lost I had to stop listening.
Probably, I like his writing
I might. A movie would probably draw the story together more.
I found this novel to be a complex marathon of stories set in the second part of XX Century America. While the tread of the story seems to follow a set of characters, the truth is that there is no single story been narrated but a collection of them. Characters come and go as the book matures and then are lost in the maze of the timeline. I liked the book but I failed to grasp its greatness.
This was my first engagement with the works of, Don DeLillo. It was at first a challenge to find rhythm but not for long.
DeLillo paints a portrait here more than telling a story. He makes sure the reader/listener is right in the center of each scene from the types of paper floating around in an October ballgame to the night movements and works of a master graffiti artist to the smell and vision of massive waste dumps to the detonation of atomic bombs, you are an insider not a consumer of this masterpiece. You smell, hear, see, feel the sweat, tension, passion, fear and desperation of a nation railing toward collapse.
The writer presents his material as a sociologist, psychologist, cultural anthropologist, artist, conversationalist and certainly as a master of his craft.
Ghost writer of over 100 unpublished works...;).
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.
Absolutely. In fact, I've gone back and re-listened to several chapters. It took me forever to get through this as I kept going back to savor passages.
The parts of a shoe, Matt's chats with his colleague at the desert lab, Clara Sax "ride" with her "childhood" friend, Nick's chat with his co-worker re: "dietrologia." DeLillo's overall fascination with language stirred me to many lookups. The sisters in the 'hood.
Like other male readers, he's weak on women. But his readings for Nick and the priest were my favorites.
Just dread of the impending end. It's hard for me to break up with a book I love when I reach the end.
Just additional kudos to the reader. Nuance, accents (not overdone), Poe really evoked each character individually. His voice is narcotic with inducing sleep.
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