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White Noise | [Don DeLillo]

White Noise

Jack Gladney teaches Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America where his colleagues include New York expatriates who want to immerse themselves in "American magic and dread". Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the usual rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. Then a lethal black cloud floats over their lives, an airborne "toxic event", an industrial accident.
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Publisher's Summary

Jack Gladney teaches Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America where his colleagues include New York expatriates who want to immerse themselves in "American magic and dread". Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the usual rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. Then a lethal black cloud floats over their lives, an airborne "toxic event", an industrial accident. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the "white noise" engulfing the Gladney family: radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings, pulsing with life, yet filled with dread and danger.

©1985 Don DeLillo; (P)2000 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“…stick with this book, and Prichard, through the rough spots. You will be rewarded with the never-wavering magic of DeLillo, and some good laughs.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (234 )
5 star
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3.8 (145 )
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Story
3.6 (140 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jane 04-09-15
    Jane 04-09-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Book for school"

    Not a bad book. Just random. Having a great teacher or friend explain and point out parts will help. The plot is pretty bad

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sarah san francisco, CA, United States 04-05-15
    sarah san francisco, CA, United States 04-05-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Maybe my favorite book of all time"

    Wow- if you like the existential then you can't help but love this. I was totally blown away. Some fantastic lines and the performance is very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert W. 03-01-15
    Robert W. 03-01-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Unbearable"
    What didn’t you like about Michael Prichard’s performance?

    There's a point in the book where one of the characters is reading aloud. She's described as a good reader. Even as Prichard reads this, he intones, seemingly with no irony or self-awareness, in a voice so unimaginative and unmodulated that I often couldn't tell one character in a conversation from the other, the description of the reader's skills. If only he was listening. I like Delillo. I've read this book. If you're interested in it - and I do think it's both enjoyable and important - don't listen to this reading. After listening, I checked my wish list and removed anything read by Prichard.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher 01-23-15
    Christopher 01-23-15
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    "Pretty Good"

    Sad to see the climax come so late. Great book overall. Boring at times but good. Great central characters and themes

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris CHANDLER, AZ, United States 02-11-14
    Chris CHANDLER, AZ, United States 02-11-14 Member Since 2013
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    "I'd Heard Delilo Was a Difficult Read, But..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I would not. The book barely has a plot, which is fine, I don't necessarily need a book to have a plot, but if it doesn't, it needs characters I like. The characters in White Noise were all nihilist faux-intellectuals, and while I get the commentary, it meant that I hated absolutely everyone during the long stretches where absolutely nothing happened. Pages upon pages of contrarian, nihilist conversation where nobody just answers a question, they must pontificate on nonsense first. I found White Noise to be an exercise in patience in terms of the nearly non-existent plot, and an exercise in frustration with every single person who inhabits the story.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The climax was the only moment where I genuinely related to the character and found the story to be compellingly written. Once it is done, however, the story returns to a frustrating slog during the falling action and epilogue.


    How could the performance have been better?

    I absolutely despised the narrator, who seemed to be reading from a time period where audiobook narrators were trained to read with absolutely no emotion or temperance or anything. He is far and beyond the most boring narrator I've ever heard, and I feel he nearly killed the humor of the book, which is by nature super dry and, well, monotonous.


    Do you think White Noise needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    The story is pretty well wrapped-up.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd heard that Delilo was a difficult read, but when I hear that, I expect a book to use complex language, have spindly uninteresting prose, or have indecipherable metaphoric imagery. White Noise has none of the above. The book is metaphoric, but no more than any other literary novel-- this isn't Old Man and the Sea. This isn't Kafka. What makes this book a difficult read is its impossibly slow narrative and monotonous dialog. I would not say that Delilo is incapable of writing good characters because the fact that everyone seems to be obnoxious seems to have a point-- the writing seems to be making commentary on those that purport intellectual are bs, but it leaves me with absolutely no one to grasp on to, so when things do happen-- which literally takes hours of reading before it does-- I do not care. A difficult read indeed, but for none of the reasons I thought.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Moreno Valley, Ca, United States 03-25-13
    Michael Moreno Valley, Ca, United States 03-25-13
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    "Great Novel, Not So Great Audiobook"
    What did you like best about White Noise? What did you like least?

    White Noise is an awesome, scathing commentary on contemporary American mass culture. There's plenty of critical analysis on this topic with respect to the novel and Delillo, so I won't go into it for this review.


    What other book might you compare White Noise to and why?

    For the younger generation, Fight Club is a good comparison considering theme and subject matters.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Prichard?

    Prichard has a decent voice, but he has a particular lack of style. He reads too slowly, unnaturally so. That, and he pauses way too long between sentences. Whatever tension might have been built into the narrative looses it's energy and impact as a result. Personally, I'm actually a pretty slow reader myself, reading at about the same pace that I can read aloud, so anything slower than that is difficult to manage, which if I had a hard time with it, I can see anyone else having a harder time with it.


    Could you see White Noise being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No comment.


    Any additional comments?

    None.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward San Antonio, TX, United States 08-01-07
    Edward San Antonio, TX, United States 08-01-07 Member Since 2014
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    "Read Kimberly's Review"

    (If you feel he's a bit flat, as some folks do, it helps to bump the speed up a notch if you are using an iPod).

    Read it had some humor but I found it occasionally, maybe it's just me. I saw the humor more at the end.

    Thank you Kimberly!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Garden Grove, CA, USA 02-21-07
    Jonathan Garden Grove, CA, USA 02-21-07
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    "Amazing Reader"

    This guy is good. The best I've ever heard. He has an incredible range of male voices and his female voices are astounding. They're not wierd or distracting at all. This audio book has a perfect flow.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
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