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The Silence  By  cover art

The Silence

By: Don DeLillo
Narrated by: Laurie Anderson,Jeremy Bobb,Marin Ireland,Robin Miles,Jay O. Sanders,Michael Stuhlbarg
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Publisher's Summary

From the National Book Award-winning author of Underworld, a “daring...provocative...exquisite” (The Washington Post) novel about five people gathered together in a Manhattan apartment, in the midst of a catastrophic event.

It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity.

Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.

What follows is a “brilliant and astonishing…masterpiece” (Chicago Tribune) about what makes us human. Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of the Covid pandemic. His language, the dazzle of his sentences offer a kind of solace in our bewildering world. “DeLillo’s shrewd, darkly comic observations about the extravagance and alienation of contemporary life can still slice like a scalpel” (Entertainment Weekly).

“In this wry and cutting meditation on collective loss, a rupture severs us, suddenly, from everything we’ve come to rely on. The Silence seems to absorb DeLillo’s entire body of work and sand it into stone or crystal.” (Rachel Kushner)

©2020 Don DeLillo. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"A full cast propels DeLillo's latest audiobook, which portrays our current relationship with technology. At a time in the close future, an unexplained technology disruption occurs, impacting the characters of this work at various levels. An international flight to New York crash-lands; the survivors are treated in a clinic that is also affected by the blackout. The Super Bowl broadcast goes dark, forcing neighbors to interact. DeLillo reflects on the nature of humanity, and who we've become. Marin Ireland's centering narrative anchors the stellar performances. Memorable characters include a gruff sports gambler who is reduced to watching a blank screen, portrayed by Jay O. Sanders, and a couple who survive the crash and are left to observe the aftermath, portrayed by Jeremy Bobb and Robin Miles. The collective performances make this story resonate more deeply." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Silence

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A waste of a good premise

I was excited to hear a character-based drama set in a cramp setting like that of 12 Angry Men. What I got was a blunderbuss of absurd, unrealistic and bewildering dialogue to the face, delivered by bland characters who simply exist. They are inconsequential to the story, which I expect with a premise like this, where they have no control over the events of the outside world. These characters are inconsequential to not only themselves as people in a room but also to any semblance of a plot that one may be able to scavenge from this tangled mess of empty words and lacking prose. Instead of any themes and explorations of the human condition in the face of a technological collapse, we are treated to pretentious and incoherent musings that are akin to a Sophomore psychology major who has recently begun to explore the writings of Einstein and has adopted the speech pattern of his new favorite stream-of-conscious author whose name they drop at coffee shops and “rustic dive-bars” to impress their equally pseudo-intellectual friends. I suggest you not waste a credit on this and instead pick up one of many other excellent fiction and non-fiction works about EMPs and societal collapse like Lights Out or One Second After.

8 people found this helpful

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Ere the sockson locked at the dure

"Ere the sockson locked at the dure."
- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"We were headed in this direction. No more wonder, no more curiosity. Totally impaired orientation. Too much of everything from too narrow a source code."
- Don DeLillo, The Silence

My father-in-law, 28 years ago, was the director of Information Warfare and Special Technical Operations Center (STOC), a part of the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. I remember, being a college student dating his daughter, talking to him about his work there. He was the first to introduce me to the idea that we are always electronically at war. Our information grid, our electrical grids, our servers, our systems are constantly being "attacked". It was a brave new world that only has gotten braver the last two-three decades I'd imagine.

DeLillo imagines the aftermath of an attack in 2022 (or is it a solar flare or aliens?) that disables our grids; downs everything. Leaving us in the dark. No Google. No phones. No Super bowl. Delillo isn't interested in the later part of this narrative. He isn't writing a Stephen King novel or a dystopian SF novel. He is really only after the texture of what we would THINK, what we would SAY right as it happened or shortly after. I guess we have one month left in 2020, so shit.

The other day COX CABLE was down for two hours. We had no internet service (for our phone or computers). TV was limited since it is all through TV. Our social lives were limited because so much of our "lives" happens through the internet. So much of who we are exists either in a reflection through these social media source or through these connections. What happens when that vanishes suddenly? For everyone? Where are we? Where do we go when the world goes silent? What happens when the noise we thought was in our head goes silent and we are alone listening to the void?

Update: I also LOVED the typewriter font the book was printed in, so there is also that. One really nice detail. Also, don't pay too much attention to the stars. This might be a 4-star DeLillo. It has haunted me a bit since reading it yesterday, but perhaps that is just the clouds of 2020 or the anticipation of what December will bring.

Update: One of the things that keeps me coming back to Don DeLillo (just finished my last DeLillo novel, excluding Amazons, the other day is his MOOD. It is hard to describe, but I read a couple paragraphs of DeLillo and you know I'm reading him. Imagine you are on the edge of a black hole and falling into it. Your body elongates. Stretches. Before you disappear into the void as your left arm gets pulled inside, you start to pluck that arm. The sound your naked arm makes, as you slip into infinity, THAT is the mood of Don DeLillo.

3 people found this helpful

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Existentialist Nonense

Something is wrong, nobody knows what, and five people have soliloquies which no one pays attention to. They don’t make sense to the us, the readers either. And all of a sudden, the book is over! Totally Dumb.

3 people found this helpful

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confusing

The only positive thing I have to say about this book was that the narration were spit on awesome. Past that I frankly did not know what was happening, it felt like the author was trying to combine a global disaster with a philosophical awakening and put so much emphasis on the philisophixal aspects that the disaster the characters were living through seemed utterly pointless and unimportant to the overall story.

2 people found this helpful

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A minor Delillo work, (mostly) well performed

If you’ve read Delillo, you'll have some sense of what you're in for. If you haven't read Delillo, this isn't the best entry ramp. He's one of our greatest living writers but this is a fairly minor work.

The good: as usual, he's a sentence-to-sentence wonder and a first class muser, telescoping from the banal to the cosmic and back again in a single paragraph. Einstein, relativity, airplane food, Superbowl ads, World War III- all of that is here, and more, in a 115 page novella. And the narrator and 4 of the 5 actors bring his often bizarre cadences and idiosyncratic phrasings to life *brilliantly.*

The bad: Laurie Anderson, voicing Diane, almost tanks every scene she's in. Everyone else is acting with some degree of naturalism - but Anderson is doing her full-on crystal-clear voice of detached, lightly ironic observation (she's a titan in the world of performance art) and it sticks out like a sore thumb. She is grossly miscast here. Also, for a book that includes a plane crash and every piece of electronics in the world suddenly shutting down, things somehow feel a little uneventful.

That said, I liked it a great deal, and since it's so short, I'm likely to listen and/or read it again - when Delillo turns a phrase or knocks an offhand observation out of the park, there's really no one like him.

2 people found this helpful

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Albee for a broken society

Look, DeLillo isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. A common reason people don’t like his books is the characters don’t talk like actual human beings, and there is a *lot* of talking. The Silence is in the same vein as Point Omega but without the high art undercurrent, instead (and pointedly) the narrative is anchored to a Super Bowl Sunday in the not-too-distant future.

Because of the stilted dialogue and flat characters, the choice to go with a full cast is probably the best approach. It’s much easier to follow what’s happening and develop some sense of who these people are in this weird little story.

This is a fairly brief, but powerful meditation of this sad moment in history, our dependence and entanglement with our screens, our need for vapid entertainment, and our disassociated relationship with the natural, physical world and its inherent rules. Drink deep, and descend.

1 person found this helpful

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Aweful

I could only do an hour of this book. Absolutely boring, I wish I could return it and get my money back.

1 person found this helpful

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Was intrigued for a short time.

But it is a very strange short story and disappointing after I was intrigued initally. Left me flat and with too many questions and too little character development. I was hooked, but got away.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing Horror Story

A Real World Horror Tale that crackles with the anticipation we all hold in our guts if we let ourselves ponder the real implications of the World that we’re building. There’s more at stake than missing the Super Bowl or the next episode of The Bachelor!

Think about it. Reflect on it:

Oh the Humanity! When The Machine Stops!

1 person found this helpful

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Remarkably entertaining if only a temporary state

You're find a lot of relatable content between the lines of this salty assessment of the screens in our lives