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Ratner's Star

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Overview

One of DeLillo's first novels, Ratner's Star  follows Billy, the genius adolescent, who is recruited to live in obscurity, underground, as he tries to help a panel of estranged, demented, and yet lovable scientists communicate with beings from outer space. It is a mix of quirky humor, science, mathematical theories, as well as the complex emotional distance and sadness people feel. Ratner's Star demonstrates both the thematic and prosaic muscularity that typifies DeLillo's later and more recent works, ...

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Ratner's Star

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Overview

One of DeLillo's first novels, Ratner's Star  follows Billy, the genius adolescent, who is recruited to live in obscurity, underground, as he tries to help a panel of estranged, demented, and yet lovable scientists communicate with beings from outer space. It is a mix of quirky humor, science, mathematical theories, as well as the complex emotional distance and sadness people feel. Ratner's Star demonstrates both the thematic and prosaic muscularity that typifies DeLillo's later and more recent works, like The Names (which is also available in Vintage Contemporaries).  

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679722922
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/28/1989
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 492,100
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo
Flooring readers with his complex, intelligent evocations of modern-day America and the philosophical challenges of living in it, Don DeLillo swiftly established himself as an important writer. His wide-ranging, somewhat strange novels go less for the emotions than for the reader's very interpretations of reality.

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 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2005

    A difficult triumph

    Ratner's Star is among DeLillo's earliest novels to achieve the status of a true masterpiece. However, it is not among his more accessible works, and I do not recommend it as an entry into his canon. It is a highly conceptual novel with very little plot to speak of, and only minimal character development, which in this case is not a flaw but rather the basis of the novel's strength. DeLillo crafts a maddening trek through the universes of mathematical and linguistic thought that is, at times, as disorienting as Kafka's The Castle, but does cohere, in stages, to a satisfying conclusion. Structured into two distinct sections along the lines of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Ratner's Star extends and updates the academic and scientific satire of the Laputa episodes in Swift's Gulliver's Travels. While superficially a parody of the insularities and incompatibilities of specific schools of scholarly discourse, the novel builds in the second book to a complete disintegration of logic, language, and concept. Along the way, Delillo packs in dozens of episodes rich enough to spawn conceptual novels on their own.

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