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Valparaiso

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Overview

A man sets out on an ordinary business trip to Valparaiso, Indiana. It turns out to be a mock-heroic journey toward identity and transcendence.
This is Don DeLillo's second play, and it is funny, sharp, and deep-reaching. Its characters tend to have needs and desires shaped by the forces of broadcast technology.
This is the way we talk to each other today. This is the way we tell each other things, in public, ...

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Overview

A man sets out on an ordinary business trip to Valparaiso, Indiana. It turns out to be a mock-heroic journey toward identity and transcendence.
This is Don DeLillo's second play, and it is funny, sharp, and deep-reaching. Its characters tend to have needs and desires shaped by the forces of broadcast technology.
This is the way we talk to each other today. This is the way we tell each other things, in public, before listening millions, that we don't dare to say privately.
Nothing is allowed to be unseen. Nothing remains unsaid. And everything melts repeatedly into something else, as if driven by the finger on the TV remote.
This is also a play that makes obsessive poetry out of the language of routine airline announcements and the flow of endless information.
Valparaiso has been performed by the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Ed Siegel The boston Globe Valparaiso may be the novelist's most satisfying work since White Noise....Valparaiso is art at its finest.

Kane Webb Arkansas Democrat Gazette [A] sugar rush of a story...Valparaiso is a terrific read.

Boston Herald
A fascinating study of celebrity and its dark path to desperation. DeLillo's lyrical, layered language...makes this black comedy an engaging indictment of our tell-all culture. The unsettling power of VALPARAISO comes from DeLillo's ability to repel and attract us at the same time.
Boston Globe
VALPARAISO may be the novelist's most satisfying work since . If art at its finest gets under our skin and changes the way we look at the world, then VALPARAISO is art at its finest. You may never watch television, listen to the radio, or read a newspaper or magazine (not to mention get on an airplane) with the same passivity again. And that makes VALPARAISO, for all its psychic twists and turns, a destination that demands a visit.
Chicago Sun-Timess
An eerily cataclysmic ninety-minute ride into the lower depths of contemporary existence. Devastating and chillingly entertaining. A gorgeous, frightening, stunningly poetic riff on dislocation and guilt, sensation and sensationalism, love and loathing. The language spoken is disarmingly poetic, wickedly funny, surprisingly voluptuous and erotic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684865683
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 6/13/2000
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 815,939
  • Product dimensions: 0.26 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In October 2012, DeLillo receives the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.

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

Read an Excerpt

From Act One

Michael Majeski

Livia Majeski

Delfina Treadwell

Teddy Hodell

The Interviewers

The Camera Crew

The Chorus

Two actors, one male, one female, play all the Interviewers in Act One.

The three members of the Camera Crew double as Chorus.

Act One

Living room of the Majeski house. A large uncluttered space, bare-walled except for a large TV set in a wall unit upstage. The room is largely achromatic but not stylishly so. It is a representation of a living room, more or less anyone's.

In several scenes a sector of this playing area functions as office space or as interview space in a broadcast studio.

Scene 1

The living room in half-light. Livia sits on an exercise bike, facing downstage. She looks into the middle distance, pedaling steadily.

Lights slowly down.

There is a deep pulse of image and sound. A videotape is projected on the back wall and adjacent furniture. It shows a single image, a high-angle shot of a man in a tightly confined space. There is a plastic bag on his head, fastened about the neck. He is seated, a forearm braced against the wall to either side of him. The plastic is thick and frosted, obscuring the man's features.

The tape is crude and marked by visual static. A digital display is inset in a lower corner of the tape. It records the hour and minute, the fleeting seconds and tenths of seconds.

Livia rides her bike, visible in the flickering light.

After the tape has run for twelve seconds, there is an interval of agitation caused either by an unsteady camera or some larger disturbance.

The sound throughout is intense and electronic, a synthesized roaring wind.

Slowly the man on the tape raises his head toward the camera. The shaking becomes more pronounced and the tape abruptly ends.

The projection lasts twenty seconds. Livia is barely visible, pedaling. Then darkness.

Copyright © 1999 by Don DeLillo

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First Chapter

From Act One Michael Majeski

Livia Majeski

Delfina Treadwell

Teddy Hodell

The Interviewers

The Camera Crew

The Chorus


Two actors, one male, one female, play all the Interviewers in Act One.


The three members of the Camera Crew double as Chorus.


Act One

Living room of the Majeski house. A large uncluttered space, bare-walled except for a large TV set in a wall unit upstage. The room is largely achromatic but not stylishly so. It is a representation of a living room, more or less anyone's.


In several scenes a sector of this playing area functions as office space or as interview space in a broadcast studio.


Scene 1

The living room in half-light. Livia sits on an exercise bike, facing downstage. She looks into the middle distance, pedaling steadily.

Lights slowly down.

There is a deep pulse of image and sound. A videotape is projected on the back wall and adjacent furniture. It shows a single image, a high-angle shot of a man in a tightly confined space. There is a plastic bag on his head, fastened about the neck. He is seated, a forearm braced against the wall to either side of him. The plastic is thick and frosted, obscuring the man's features.

The tape is crude and marked by visual static. A digital display is inset in a lower corner of the tape. It records the hour and minute, the fleeting seconds and tenths of seconds.

Livia rides her bike, visible in the flickering light.

After the tape has run for twelve seconds, there is an interval of agitation caused either by an unsteady camera or some larger disturbance.

The sound throughout is intense andelectronic, a synthesized roaring wind.

Slowly the man on the tape raises his head toward the camera. The shaking becomes more pronounced and the tape abruptly ends.

The projection lasts twenty seconds. Livia is barely visible, pedaling. Then darkness.

Copyright © 1999 by Don DeLillo

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    Valpo is pretty good

    I go to school in Valparaiso and I read the play based solely on that, but the play ended up being more than a mild read for me...I couldn't put it down...Delillo hit the mark on his social commentary of reality TV...I think that is what his point was anyway

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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