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AMERICANA by Don DeLillo


by Don DeLillo

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1971
ISBN: 0140119485
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Certainly there's something of Walker Percy's movie-goer, movie-watcher in Don DeLillo's David Bell and his kinescopic vista of America — "all fragments of the exploded dream" or the good life he's pursuing. And to some degree trying to frame within the retrospective interior moments of his own past along with some of the larger concepts which seem to float freely in the now consciousness of any of our writers — time the "only thing that happens of itself," illusion, death, and the contamination of all our earlier Americana by the noxious forces in our society. At the beginning one is very taken with DeLillo's David Bell — working in television where there are genuinely funny, absurd moments and phenomena, like their Mad Memo Writer who signs his name Zwingli or Levi-Strauss or Tillich while he also steals paper clips, or the possibility of a toilet-bowl live on camera. But as the book goes on — and it does go on and on — David takes to the road in a camper with a friend and his camera and is going to make a documentary which turns out to be one of those "nonplot things." So is the book. Memory and reality interchange, enlarging and diminishing, and the sequences pan in and out on his childhood and the death of his mother and his girls and his present assorted experiences. One is left with a great many impalpables, along with the impression that DeLillo has a lot going for him — a fanciful, sharp rogue talent.