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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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    80
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Complex

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.

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"What A Long Strange Trip It's Been...."

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.

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Don Delillo's Best, Flawlessly read

Would you listen to Underworld again? Why?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Underworld?

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.

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

Like other male readers, he's weak on women. But his readings for Nick and the priest were my favorites.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Just dread of the impending end. It's hard for me to break up with a book I love when I reach the end.

Any additional comments?

Just additional kudos to the reader. Nuance, accents (not overdone), Poe really evoked each character individually. His voice is narcotic with inducing sleep.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Stephen
  • Marietta, GA, United States
  • 10-16-13

Will be looked at as a classic in time

What made the experience of listening to Underworld the most enjoyable?

Great story with an excellent reader. DeLillo takes a simple concept (in the path taken by the Bobby Thompson home run ball) and twists into an incredibly detailed and interesting story about the many lives the ball affected in the subsequent years.

What did you like best about this story?

It engaged me from the beginning. DeLillo is a great author and knows what it takes to write a captivating story with many hidden meanings that I'm sure will be debated for years to come.

Have you listened to any of Richard Poe’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

N/A

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not one particular moment. The way the author creates an intersection of each characters life is captivating on its' own.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 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

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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)

1 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenneth
  • McLean, VA, United States
  • 08-06-12

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

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  • Linda
  • ROCHESTER, MI, United States
  • 01-14-12

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

  • Overall
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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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  • Earl
  • Redondo Beach, CA, United States
  • 01-19-13

Hated it

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

0 of 5 people found this review helpful