Quorren #CBR4 Review #39 White Noise by Don DeLillo
This book was suggested to me since I love Vonnegut. This book is not comparable to Vonnegut. This book probably doesn’t even deserve to be in the same bookcase as Vonnegut, unless your bookcase is wobbly and you want to slide this under it. Even then, you may have to wrap it in plastic just in case.
Jack Gladney teaches Hilter Studies at a college. He has a wife named Babette, which is his fifth marriage. He has several precocious children. He and Babette worry a lot about who’s going to die first. One day, a car at the railroad tracks tips over and releases a toxic pesticide into the air. Gladney gets exposed and may or may not die from it, eventually. That’s…it. That’s all that goes on.
The themes are pretty simplistic. America suffers from consumerism and people are afraid to die. Quick, someone ask what color the sky is! Everything is told string of consciousness style. Which works for Vonnegut, but not so much for DeLillo. The book just muddles through the plot, never making any sort of impression. The anxiety and terror of the airborne toxic event is described with as much emotion as reading the list of ingredients off of a cereal box. The lack of emotion plays into the theme of how evening news bombards us with natural disasters and horrible accidents, desensitizing us to death, while at the same time, media also sends us the message of consume, consume, consume and you can live forever. This juxtaposition plays out in Jack and Babette’s marital troubles. However interesting that may sound, let me assure you that it’s not. Part of the issues stems of the fact that the book is old; in today’s world, everyone knows the media is trying to sell you something. The world is pretty blase about the whole thing, so the themes of the book don’t have as much as an impact.