Customer Reviews for

Underworld

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

masterful

Delilo writes about American culture with incisive clarity and wit. Some people get it, and some people, like the negative reviewers on this page, don't. There's something to be found in every sentence.

posted by Anonymous on September 16, 2000

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Post-Modern "Masterpiece" Left Me Cold

I read 150 pages of the 827-page book, and skimmed much of the rest, and only read that much of it because the novel was on a list of literary fiction I'd been working through. I knew it was difficult and wanted to give it a fair chance to win me over. Otherwise, I woul...
I read 150 pages of the 827-page book, and skimmed much of the rest, and only read that much of it because the novel was on a list of literary fiction I'd been working through. I knew it was difficult and wanted to give it a fair chance to win me over. Otherwise, I would have stopped at the second page of story.

I not only don't find this is a great book and a "page-turner" as promised in the blurbs, I found the novel a badly written one from the first pages: endless run-on sentences-of-doom, forced and clunky metaphors, random bits forced into sentences where they don't belong. I'm aware, that like the doorstop length, these are all techniques that plenty of critics would find evidence of profundity, but they left me cold.

The book jumps from omniscience with touches of second person in the Prologue to first person in Part One, and much of the rest looking though the novel is third person. You can tell looking at the section title pages that the main story is non-linear; like Pinter's "Betrayal" or the film "Memento," you work yourself backward from the early 90s to the early 50s in each of the six parts until you hit the epilogue set in the near future. Nothing about this book is straightforward--not the prose, point-of-view, narrative, characters or the very thin plot.

Even many reviewers who found the book a mess thought the prologue a work of genius, so if you're not enchanted by it--and I wasn't--I doubt the book will hold you. I think that prologue does say a lot about Delillo. Both it and a great deal of the book hangs on baseball as a metaphor for American culture and is about a legendary game between the Giants and Dodgers in 1951--through it we follow not just a turnstile jumper but characters like J Edgar Hoover and Jackie Gleason--who is described vividly and repellently as throwing up on Frank Sinatra. That turnstile jumper who skipped out of school finds a seat and is befriended by a man who buys him a soda. At the end of the game he'll twist this man's fingers to pry the home-run baseball out of his hands. So, if baseball is America, then the message is America is grasping, greedy, thieving, and repellent.

The bulk of the book then deals with the man who ultimately bought that baseball--Nick Shay--who is in waste management. The first person narrative of Part One is more accessible than the Prologue, but still at times disjointed in the modernist way, and we're headed to another extended metaphor: American culture as trash.

In short, if you're looking for a gripping story with characters you care about and a narrative that sucks you in, you're looking in the
wrong place. But if you're the kind who loves a disjointed narrative with overwrought, pretentious prose that revels in showing us the tawdriness of American life, by all means, go pick up a copy.

posted by Lisa_RR_H on May 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    This book is more about just one story...

    Underworld is one of those books that does not seem to inter-connected, this seemingly detachment from character to character drives home the colossal picture that Delillo is trying to make. It will not be enjoyed if seen otherwise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2013

    Tris

    Takes the hydra heart from claw and puts it in her satchel.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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