Spare, elegant and provocative, the latest from Don DeLillo is as timely as secret military strategies and as timeless as time itself. Scholar Richard Elster has been recruited by the military’s “strategic assessment team that did not exist in any set of official records” to “freshen the dialogue, broaden the viewpoint” as justification for war. In the aftermath of his involvement, Elster retreats to the desert, where a filmmaker hopes to persuade him to participate in a documentary. The arrival of Elster’s daughter complicates the emotional involvement. Book-ending this plot is a pair of “Anonymity” vignettes, detailing a soundless screening of Psycho slowed to run 24 hours. “Real time is meaningless,” the narrative maintains. “There is no such thing.” “DeLillo has often written about lone men wearing the burden of history—sometimes of their own guilt,” says Nan Graham, Scribner editor-in-chief and the novelist’s editor since 1989. “Richard Elster has a past, and he’s holed up in the desert, looking for something, maybe reconciliation. For DeLillo, ever since his first novel Americana, the desert has been a place of clarity and mystery both. The intense human drama in this novel begins when Elster’s daughter visits, and what has been a somewhat cerebral experiment becomes devastatingly intimate.” (First appeared in our Spring & Summer Preview.)
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Scribner / February / 9781439169957 / $24.00
This book was featured in the Kirkus Best of 2010