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Publisher's Summary

One of DeLillo's first novels, Ratner's Star follows Billy, a genius adolescent who is recruited to live in obscurity, underground, as he tries to help a panel of estranged, demented, and yet lovable scientists communicate with beings from outer space. It is a mix of quirky humor, science, and mathematical theories as well as the complex emotional distance and sadness people feel.

Ratner's Star demonstrates both the thematic and prosaic muscularity that typifies DeLillo's later and more recent works, like The Names.

©2017 Don DeLillo (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What listeners say about Ratner's Star

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sitting alone in a room isn't enough.

"Sitting alone in a room isn't enough. We should turn out the lights as well. The only way to survive is to curtail one's perspective, to exist as close to one's center as possible."
- Don DeLillo, Ratner's Star

I'm going to have to chew on this one. Which means two things. I'll either run off and never return or chew, swallow and excrete something in good time. IT is a tangle for me. Clearly, parts I loved; parts I think I understood; and parts that are absolutely off the charts. I can see this novel reappearing in parts of the Underworld, Zero K, Point Omega, etc. DeLillo loves exploring Man on the edge.

I should also note, as far as Delillo's published novels, I am now a DeLillo completist. I still have a few more short stories, a few more plays, and Amazons by Cleo Birdwell to read, but if I was checking off his 'also by' books in the front of his most recent book, I'm a completist. I'll call it a small 'c' complete and leave it there. I just ordered a copy of Amazons so I can check that off and am scrambling around trying to locate his early short-stories.

2 people found this helpful

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The Chimeras of the Scientific Mind

This is not a book for everybody. And it is not science fiction do much as a farcical observation anout scientific endeavor and the human beings who engage in it.

Billy is a sort of innocent straight- man /voice of reason, and the novel leads him through absurd encounters with the antic and sometimes almost frightening denizens of the strange isolated environment of the novel, a multi-nationally funded research center engaged in a variety of ridiculous almost post-modern fields of study, primarily the interpretation of a message received by radio telescopes from a distant star.

I wouldn’t duscourage anyone from reading this, but I suspect many readers will not connect with it.

It is dense, beautiful, silly and profound, overflowing with beautiful language and pregnant with endless ideas, and written on the kind of beautiful indulgent prose DeLillo more sparingky employed in his later novels. It is bubbling with information and I sight, and reading it is a lavish treat for readers who have a fairly broad experience of scientific language and a live for the sheer beauty of words and concepts.

It has little plot, it is mostly a series of quirky characters, weird encounters, and descriptive language so wonderfully crafted that it reminds us of what the written word can do at its best.

I love this book, and the right people will, also. It has no action, to speak of, no real story arc, no predictable outcome or single resolution. It’s beautiful, dense, challenging, hilarious, thought-provoking, profound, absurd, and oddly sad.

It’s like Monty Python, in that you will like it, or you will not like it. There will be little middle ground.

2 people found this helpful

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5 stars for Ratner

Another mind bender by DD... if you like his stuff this is a must... radical

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SciFi and I don't mix well.

This is another try at science fiction for me. I keep hoping to find more books in the genre that I will love, but so far I can count on one hand the number of them that I have loved. This one is not among them.

DeLillo has many ideas, and it is obvious that he is intelligent and well-informed. In this novel, he experiments with mathematics, science and logic. He obviously did his research, and his discussion of the world of science is at times quite beautiful. It is difficult and dense and yet somehow the science felt accessible to me. I like this part of the book. Unfortunately that was the only part of the book that I enjoyed though. I simply didn't connect with the characters in any way, and didn't care about the story either.