Americana

( 2 )

Overview

At twenty-eight, David Bell is the American Dream come true. He has fought his way to the top, surviving office purges and scandals tobecome a top television executive. David's world is made up of the images that flicker across America's screens, the fantasies that enthrall America's imagination.

And the the dream—and the dream-making—become a nightmare. At the height of his success, David sets out to rediscover reality. Camera in hand, he journeys across the country in a mad ...

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Americana

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Overview

At twenty-eight, David Bell is the American Dream come true. He has fought his way to the top, surviving office purges and scandals tobecome a top television executive. David's world is made up of the images that flicker across America's screens, the fantasies that enthrall America's imagination.

And the the dream—and the dream-making—become a nightmare. At the height of his success, David sets out to rediscover reality. Camera in hand, he journeys across the country in a mad and moving attempt to capture, to impose a pattern on his own, and America's past, present, and future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In search of his roots, a successful but unhappy TV executive takes off for the heartland of America. ``This first novel is peopled with characters alienated not only from one another, but from themselves. It has the smell of staleness and despair. It is also, with its deadly accurate observations, its veracious dialogue, and its consistency of view, brilliantly written,'' maintained PW. July
Joyce Carol Oates
"Nearly every second of 'Americana' rings true, and insisted upon the authenticity becomes stereotypes....DeLillo is a man of frightened perception."
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
"The language soars in depth, under them parts a great deal." -- New York Times
Nelson Algian
"Don DeLillo's swift, ironic, witty cross-country American nightmare doesn't have a dull or unoriginal line." -- Rolling Stones
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140119480
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/1989
  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 314,261
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.86 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo published his first short story when he was twenty-three years old. He has since written twelve novels, including White Noise (1985) which won the National Book Award. It was followed by Libra (1988), his novel about the assassination of President Kennedy, and by Mao II, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

In 1997, he published the bestselling Underworld, and in 1999 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to a writer whose work expresses the theme of the freedom of the individual in society; he was the first American author to receive it. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Biography

Growing up in his working class Bronx neighborhood in the 1940s and '50s, Don De Lillo was far more interested in sports than in books. A listless student, he did not develop an interest in reading until he was 18 and working a summer job as a parking attendant. Desperate to fill in the long, boring hours of downtime, he discovered the literature of Faulkner, Joyce, and Hemingway. He attended Fordham University and worked in advertising for several years before seriously pursuing a writing career.

When De Lillo's first novel, Americana, was published in 1971, it received modest reviews. Seven books followed over the next 14 years, steadily generating more critical praise but few sales. Then, in 1985, he hit pay dirt with White Noise, a brooding postmodern masterpiece about a Midwestern college professor and his family in the aftermath of an airborne toxic accident. It proved to be De Lillo's breakthrough, earning him both a National Book Award and an avid cult following.

Since then, De Lillo has gone on to produce a string of superb "literary" novels that fairly brim with big ideas yet also capture the essence of contemporary culture in all its infuriating banality. Cited by younger writers like Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace as a major influence, De Lillo remains a reserved and private, albeit gracious and genteel man who seems a bit uncomfortable with fame.

Among the many honors De Lillo has received are the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize for Libra (1989); the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Mao II (1991); and the Jerusalem Prize, William Dean Howells Medal, and the Riccardo Bacchelli International Award for his magnum opus Underworld (1997). In addition, three of his novels received high marks on a 2006 survey sponsored by The New York Times to name the single best work of American fiction of the last 25 years.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Cleo Birdwell
    2. Hometown:
      Westchester County, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 20, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York City
    1. Education:
      Fordham University, 1958

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    One of the best kept secrets in the US

    This review gives no spoilers; instead, it is meant to convince the reader why I used the above headline about this writer. I was browsing through the bookstore a few months ago, read the back cover of "The Names," used the five minute test (where I read the first few pages of a book to see if I have lost track of time for at least five minutes), and I was hooked. Reading "Americana" followed a few days later.
    The most remarkable aspect of Don DeLillo's writing is, well, his writing - the way it sneaks up on the subconscious and replays events and phrases from the last chapter if a reader is unfortunate enough to have to put DeLillo's writing down. The characters, plot, and thematic elements are good in themselves, but not so much as the style in which they are rendered. Although that may sound odd, I don't know any other way to explain the experience. DeLillo is a true reader's writer by being easily accessible yet presenting complex character relationships. I enjoy other writers because they tell such good yarns and do so skillfully: Chuck Palahniuk and Dan Simmons, to name two. I keep going to see where those two will take me. With DeLillo, however, I keep reading for the simple pleasure of being in the mind of a master wordsmith. I enjoyed the imagery and eerie quality in "The Names" a bit more than in "Americana": maybe because of the exotic background of "The Names" in southern Europe and the Middle East. "Americana" has more familiar settings for US readers; re-examining those places with DeLillo as tour guide provides fresh commentary on what we often think of as whitebread. If you're tired of reading other disappointing writers who have somehow earned starred reviews, give one of DeLillo's books the "five-minute test," and see why he is the only US writer (so far) to win the Jerusalem Prize.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Then we came to the end!

    This is where it all began. The first sentence says it all. Read the DeLillo canon (well, OK to skip The Body Artist), then fast forward to Joshua Ferris.

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