Thursday, June 4, 2020

Don DeLillo's "Mao II": Audiobook Review

DeLillo’s Mao II | CONSTRUCTION Literary Magazine
Those who've enjoyed "Underworld" admit the best part's its start. Same with its predecessor "Mao II." The opening scene of Moonie mass marriage arrives with appropriate unease. How does the rest of this novel, if much shorter than "Underworld," compare? I found it somnolent. As I listened to Michael Pritchard's steady, understated, rather sleepy audio performance, my mind kept drifting off.

In fact, I'd seen in a new "New Yorker" in a humor piece on feminist-friendly Disney animated leads a DeLillo joke. The plot  was said to be in "every" one of his narratives, and even if this isn't true, the storyline fit "Mao II." Am I a hostage? What am I doing here? Should I trade places? I feel distress.

Another recent find, the forthcoming Martin Amis essay collection "The Rub of Time," noted DeLillo's admittedly very prescient takedown of the Twin Towers and his prediction that writers would become obsolescent as terrorists claimed the world's attention, as more compelling witnesses to and instigators of human unease and violent climax. That does resonate in this 1991 work powerfully. "The future belongs to crowds." And these masses are not content with our world order.

All the same, as this theme is repeated often within, the characters of reclusive Salinger/ Pynchonesque writer Bill Gray, his assistant Scott, their lover the cult escapee Karen, and photographer Britta fail to grab one. They in parts all emerge as recognizable, but the pages go by with more tedium than they should have, given DeLillo's talent. I admire the one after this, "Libra," greatly, but my hopes for "Mao II," which is ranked as one of his best, fell flat. This is not as witty as the predecessor "White Noise," and wears out the impact of its strong start--which is not the last to begin in Yankee Stadium to a full house. This might have worked as a novella, tighter and not slack.
(Amazon US 11/20/17)

No comments: