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It has been said that you should “write what you know”. Don DeLillo should have taken that advice when writing The Silence. To say this book is pretentious would be not only an understatement but also a missed opportunity to point out that this book says absolutely nothing. There is no possible way to care about or relate to the characters he presents, unless you find the bourgeois preoccupations of upper-middle class Americans absolutely fascinating.
Personally I’d like to think that there are far more important things to talk about, like what the premise of this book was supposed to be! Okay, so all of a sudden nothing works and this “severs all of the digital connections we depend on.” Right, so what about analogue ones? Radio waves have always been there and Marconi just discovered how to use them, so why is the world “plunged into silence” with no communication at all? He hasn’t researched anything about his subject. Please tell us how this is supposed to have happened, especially since there are actually CPUs that are resistant to solar flares and everything else. What was it? An extreme electromagnetic pulse, what? What’s with all these random quotes from Einstein that are no more profound than random internet memes misquoting Einstein?
There’s nothing about how humans would adapt to this situation, only some pointless repetitive conversations, actually it’s just dialogue with no actual conversing, and he somehow manages to work in a completely gratuitous and unerotic sex scene in a public toilet. The only insight in the whole book is when Tessa says to herself “I revisit old notebooks and sometimes it amazes me to read what I though was worth writing.” I think maybe Don DeLillo may have this exact realization one day when reading this book again.
I feel very misled by the prepublication hype for this book. Nothing of interest happens following what appears to be an unexplained global power failure. Just some people having tedious thoughts. Nobody (including the author) seems curious as to why this has happened or seeks to do anything about it. They are not even interested in how this could have affected battery operated devices and vehicles. Just a lot of inconsequential waffle I'm afraid. I'll be much more cautious about pre-ordering a book in the future.
I started reading this in bed after drinking a gallon of red wine. This book made me feel a whole lot drunker. I re-read it in the morning thinking I'd missed something of value in it due to the wine. It was even worse to read it sober. I'm stopping drinking so much and I've stopped buying Guardian newspaper book recommendations. The worst book I've read in many years. An exciting premise for the book which is disregarded in favour of pretentious, migraine inducing waffle.
I hate to write a critical review, especially of an artistic product, as its so subjective. However I found this book boring and irrelevant. The plot is connected somehow to some "catastophic" event. However the catastrophy seems mild (TV and phones seem to be not working?) and this is in no way an interesting novel about how people might react to a 'catastrophy', which is how it was sold to me.
"What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human. Never has the art of fiction been such an immediate guide to our navigation of a bewildering world. Never have DeLillo’s prescience, imagination, and language been more illuminating and essential."
Nope, Nothing even remotely like this. If you are dazzled by this book I suggest you start reading a bit more. This is not War and Peace for the digital age, this is a pamphlet about a few characters having a few extra glasses of whiskey in the dark.
I am absolutely biased when it comes to De Lillo, whose unique voice and style I've fallen in love with long ago. His latest work, a short story actually, delivers exactly what you would expect from a De Lillo's work, so no, it's not offering you any answer nor solution, and no, it's not here to tell you a happy ending story or who love and justice will prevail. It's part scientific analysis (but there's no science behind it), part listing. It's conversations, it's dialogue that don't need characters to express them. I find it almost a nostalgic opera, it's the author showing us what he doesn't understand anymore of this world, of what is most likely coming, of what, ultimately, defines us as human being. Yes, it could have been longer, yes it could have been better.... But De Lillo does what De Lillo writes, there is an immediacy in his writing, a sense of simple stylistic profoundness that's hardly findable anywhere else, and I love him for that.
I had never read any don Delillo before and picked this up after reading a review as the premise sounded interesting. I found it oddly compelling, it’s not long and much of the narrative consists of the characters monologues and internal wrangles as their world disintegrates. It feels like it needs more study to get to the bottom of it and it may evolve into an English lit text as there are some nice passages. Overall it feels disquieting, like something has tipped which I suspect may have been the intention. It feels related to The Wall by John Lanchester in a way and a good addition to a growing amount of writings on possible near futures like end of the world running club.
The Silence is a future digital systems failure when communications are not possible. The listless characters also have lost the art of inter-personal communication. This stretches to the rotten Emergency Sex and fleeting moments of lust as a metaphor for separateness. A dreary story without a purpose. Perhaps a warning for the future. Thank goodness only for the smallness of the book both in length and in content. I would give it zero stars.
So much is missing from this short story - the plane crash - the journey to the flat- the trip taken outside - an ending. Nothing much happens except 5 people pontificating on what could have caused it, all being terribly middle class educated clever... in fact it misses the one thing that you expected and that was the silence.
I’ve read several Don DeLillo books and all have been interesting. This feels like a short story at best, perhaps just an initial draft of something interesting. Certainly not substantial enough to justify itself a full book. A bit like reading a Stephen King novel and misplacing the book about a third of the way through. Poor effort.