Point Omega

Point Omega

by Don DeLillo

Paperback

$13.50 $15.00 Save 10% Current price is $13.5, Original price is $15. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, June 25

Overview

A brief, unnerving, and exceptionally hard-hitting novel about time and loss as only the bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of White Noise and Underworld can tell it.

In this potent and beautiful novel, the writer The New York Times calls “prophetic about twenty-first-century America” looks into the mind and heart of a scholar who was recruited to help the military conceptualize the war.

We see Richard Elster at the end of his service. He has retreated to the desert, in search of space and geologic time. There he is joined by a filmmaker and by Elster’s daughter Jessica—an “otherworldly” woman from New York. The three of them build an odd, tender intimacy, something like a family. Then a devastating event turns detachment into colossal grief, and it is a human mystery that haunts the landscape of desert and mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439169964
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 12/14/2010
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 636,000
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, 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. His story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Hometown:

Westchester County, New York

Date of Birth:

November 20, 1936

Place of Birth:

New York City

Education:

Fordham University, 1958

Read an Excerpt


1

The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we're alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly selfaware, the submicroscopic moments. He said this more than once, Elster did, in more than one way. His life happened, he said, when he sat staring at a blank wall, thinking about dinner.

An eight-hundred-page biography is nothing more than dead conjecture, he said.

I almost believed him when he said such things. He said we do this all the time, all of us, we become ourselves beneath the running thoughts and dim images, wondering idly when we'll die. This is how we live and think whether we know it or not. These are the unsorted thoughts we have looking out the train window, small dull smears of meditative panic.

The sun was burning down. This is what he wanted, to feel the deep heat beating into his body, feel the body itself, reclaim the body from what he called the nausea of News and Traffic.

This was desert, out beyond cities and scattered towns. He was here to eat, sleep and sweat, here to do nothing, sit and think. There was the house and then nothing but distances, not vistas or sweeping sightlines but only distances. He was here, he said, to stop talking. There was no one to talk to but me. He did this sparingly at first and never at sunset. These were not glorious retirement sunsets of stocks and bonds. To Elster sunset was human invention, our perceptual arrangement of light and space into elements of wonder. We looked and wondered. There was a trembling in the air as the unnamed colors and landforms took on definition, a clarity of outline and extent. Maybe it was the age difference between us that made me think he felt something else at last light, a persistent disquiet, uninvented. This would explain the silence.

The house was a sad hybrid. There was a corrugated metal roof above a clapboard exterior with an unfinished stonework path out front and a tacked-on deck jutting from one side. This is where we sat through his hushed hour, a torchlit sky, the closeness of hills barely visible at high white noon.

News and Traffic. Sports and Weather. These were his acid terms for the life he'd left behind, more than two years of living with the tight minds that made the war. It was all background noise, he said, waving a hand. He liked to wave a hand in dismissal. There were the risk assessments and policy papers, the interagency working groups. He was the outsider, a scholar with an approval rating but no experience in government. He sat at a table in a secure conference room with the strategic planners and military analysts. He was there to conceptualize, his word, in quotes, to apply overarching ideas and principles to such matters as troop deployment and counterinsurgency. He was cleared to read classified cables and restricted transcripts, he said, and he listened to the chatter of the resident experts, the metaphysicians in the intelligence agencies, the fantasists in the Pentagon.

The third floor of the E ring at the Pentagon. Bulk and swagger, he said.

He'd exchanged all that for space and time. These were things he seemed to absorb through his pores. There were the distances that enfolded every feature of the landscape and there was the force of geologic time, out there somewhere, the string grids of excavators searching for weathered bone.

I keep seeing the words. Heat, space, stillness, distance. They've become visual states of mind. I'm not sure what that means. I keep seeing figures in isolation, I see past physical dimension into the feelings that these words engender, feelings that deepen over time. That's the other word, time.

I drove and looked. He stayed at the house, sitting on the creaky deck in a band of shade, reading. I hiked into palm washes and up unmarked trails, always water, carrying water everywhere, always a hat, wearing a broadbrimmed hat and a neckerchief, and I stood on promontories in punishing sun, stood and looked. The desert was outside my range, it was an alien being, it was science fiction, both saturating and remote, and I had to force myself to believe I was here.

He knew where he was, in his chair, alive to the protoworld, I thought, the seas and reefs of ten million years ago. He closed his eyes, silently divining the nature of later extinctions, grassy plains in picture books for children, a region swarming with happy camels and giant zebras, mastodons, sabertooth tigers.

Extinction was a current theme of his. The landscape inspired themes. Spaciousness and claustrophobia. This would become a theme.

Copyright © 2010 by Don DeLillo

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Point Omega by Don DeLillo includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Documentary filmmaker Jim Finley is divorced and adrift in New York City and looking for a subject for his next film. When he learns about Richard Elster, a scholar who was an advisor to the military for the War on Terror, he thinks he has found it. He follows the reclusive Elster out to a desert cabin in an attempt to convince him to be in a new film. The men spend their time discussing philosophy and politics, spinning their mental wheels, until the arrival of Elster’s daughter Jessie. Sent by her mother, who dislikes Jessie’s new boyfriend, Jessie changes the dynamic and sets Finley on edge with a confused attraction. When she suddenly disappears, it throws the men into a tailspin that forces them to confront the realities they’ve been hiding from.

Questions for Discussion

1. What was Elster’s motivation for inviting Finley out to the desert? Did he ever intend to be in the movie, or was he simply lonely?

2. Characters are introduced abruptly in Point Omega, with context and background information revealed later. For example, we don’t find out how Elster and Finley meet until pg. 60, or about Jessie and the watcher’s meeting until the end of the novel. How does the pacing of the novel shape the reading experience? Does immediate immersion and gradual context pull you into the story faster, or hold you at a distance?


3. Elster tells Jessie and Finley that he goes to the desert to escape “the usual terror” of measured time which he feels is unavoidable in cities. He believes that time is, at heart, about fear, and that literature is meant to relieve that fear. Do you agree with his view of time and literature? Consider the origins of literature in oral traditions, which used narrative as a means of connecting to the past in what could be considered a refutation of time.


4. Would you watch Finley’s documentary of Elster, if it were real? Is Jessie right, that it doesn’t need to be a film and might as well be a magazine article, or does Finley’s project need the medium of film to be a successful portrait of a behind-the-scenes policy maker?


5. The first mention of the omega point occurs when Elster is speaking of his view on human nature and references the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin. In fact, de Chardin theorized that the omega point was the eventual unification of man and the divine – a far cry from Elster’s return to inorganic matter. De Chardin was writing in the 1950s, after WWII and before Vietnam, while Elster was part of the War on Terror. Is this difference in their interpretation formed by their political backgrounds, or is it simply a case of optimism vs. pessimism?


6. At several points during his stay with Elster, Finley fantasizes about Jessie. Was fantasy and hand-holding as far as it went, or did something more happen between them?


7. Teilhard de Chardin also believed that evolution is fundamentally a process of unification, and that current evolution is societal instead of genetic, building links between humanity that would eventually unify us as a species and wipe out distinctions like country or race. With the advent of the Internet and the many social media applications that it has given birth to, de Chardin’s theory seems applicable. Can technological advance be considered part of evolution? Do you believe that technology can unify us, or does it make it easier to enforce separations?

8. It is implied, but never declared, that the mysterious “Dennis” is the nameless movie watcher. Are Dennis, the silent phone-caller, and the watcher the same person?


9. Elster believes that humanity today yearns for extinction, and that this explains our obsession with apocalypse scenarios and with violence (pg 51). On the other hand, one could argue that we are actually obsessed with survival, and violence and apocalyptic scenarios are our attempt at ensuring it. Does humanity have a death wish, or is survival by necessity a violent endeavor?


10. The film watcher admits in the opening of the book that he is waiting for a woman to come in and watch the film, someone he can “talk” to. Is he marking out a victim, or genuinely seeking a connection?

11. What do you believe happened to Jessie?


12. While most of Point Omega is stark and conversational, it ends on a very dreamlike note as the nameless watcher reminisces. Is he speaking about Norman Bates and “Mother,” or himself and his own mother? What do you think the “spirit birds” are meant to symbolize?

Tips to Enhance Your Book Club

1. There is a short clip of 24 Hour Psycho available on YouTube, from the infamous shower scene. Watch the clip as a group, and then discuss it. Some topics of discussion: How does it compare to the original version of Psycho? How does the experience of watching it compare with the description in the book?


2. Have each member pick a movie they would like to see in a slowed-down version, and explain why.

3. Whether or not you’re as pessimistic as Elster, time does seem to move differently in nature. Take a group camping trip or day-hike and have each member journal during the trip on how their perception of time changes. Ask everyone to leave their watches and cell phones at home (or at least in the car)!

4. Politics can be a very divisive and emotional topic. Give your group an opportunity to discuss them with ease, with the following exercise: The first sentence of Elster’s essay is, “A government is a criminal enterprise.” Have each member of the group write out their own version of this statement before the meeting, as a single sentence starting with “A government is,” on plain white paper. Fold up each piece of paper and mix them together in a bowl, then draw out and discuss the different definitions. This gives people room to discuss alternative viewpoints without having to declare their own, if they feel uncomfortable doing so.

Interviews

At seventy-three, Don DeLillo hasn’t settled into comfortable old age.  His fiction, never easy though sometimes hilarious, continues to work the zeitgeist, and often looks well beyond it. The awards have been there: the American Book Award for White Noise (1985), the PEN/Faulkner for Mao II (1991), and the Jerusalem Prize for Underworld (1997).  The critical acclaim began almost from the beginning, and the academic commentary proliferates as we speak.  None of this seems to faze the author, who maintains a level of privacy that runs counter to our tell-all culture.

DeLillo’s new book, Point Omega, is a short but challenging novel about war, film, time, space, and transcendence.  Heady stuff, in other words.  And not real easy to discuss, especially when the author is notoriously reluctant to explicate his own work (maybe more writers should follow his lead?)  Despite his natural reticence, DeLillo agreed to answer my questions about his new novel, his fifteenth in a career that remains vibrant and engaged.

If you want to learn what there is to know about his background, his writing habits, and his opinions about other writers, you can read previous profiles and interviews in Conversations with Don DeLillo (2005). Our exchange took place by fax and phone.- Thomas DePietro

The Barnes & Noble Review: The frame narrative of Point Omega describes two days at an actual video installation in the Museum of Modern Art, a showing of Douglas Gordon’s, 24 Hour Psycho.  Was this the immediate inspiration for the novel?Can you describe the video?

Don DeLillo: In the summer of 2006 I walked into a gallery on the sixth floor of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  The room was as described in the novel, dark and chill, with a free-standing screen, no chairs or benches, and a film in progress -- extremely slow-going progress.  This was a video work by Douglas Gordon titled 24 Hour Psycho, the famous Hitchcock movie being run at two frames per second instead of the customary twenty-four.  No soundtrack, very few visitors to the gallery, most of them remaining only minutes.  The video seemed to me a kind of meditation on such subjects as time and motion, what we see, how we see, what we miss seeing under normal circumstances.  I returned the next day and then again a few days later, staying a little longer each time and beginning to realize by the third or fourth visit that a piece of fiction might spring from this experience.

 In the museum there were other rooms beyond the 24 Hour Psycho installation, showing other videoworks.  In the novel there is only Psycho.

BNR: What was your own experience of the installation?  Is it mainly about altering the viewer’s sense of time and space?

Don DeLillo: I don’t write essaylike fiction.  My work tends to have a strong visual quality -- the idea is to make the reader see, and it may be the case that my interest in film has helped fashion this tendency.  In the case of the videowork what I experienced was not only film, it was also time; it was also mind.  With motion slowed so radically, one experiences another way to see, another way to think.  Things seem intensely what they are, broken down into atoms, into motes of light, as if seen for the first time.  In the novel the anonymous man standing in the gallery understands that the less there is to look at, the deeper he would look.

BNR: How does the video’s shift in time and space alter the meaning of the original film?

DD: In the original Psycho, there is a recurrent theme of taxidermy: the stuffed birds that Norman Bates keeps in his room at the motel; Norman’s mother’s body, stuffed with sawdust.  But the 24-hour version unstuffs the original -- content and suspense are drained away.  Hitchcock was a careful architect of audience response.  In Psycho he wanted to achieve “mass emotion,” he has said.  The videowork is situated in the individual eye and mind.  No music, no dialogue, no screams -- just shapes and patterns.

BNR: Are we meant to reconsider everything said by the narrator of the frame once we realize at the end that he himself may be quite strange?

DD: The anonymous man who appears in the gallery in the prologue and epilogue of the novel is simply who he is -- strange at first and then a little stranger.  But there is no need for the reader to reconsider anything that passes across his mind as he watches the video.

 

BNR: You’ve talked in the past about the stark reality of “a man in a room;” here it’s a man at the wall -- both the anonymous man and in the scenario for Jim Finley’s unmade film about Richard Elster in the main narrative. Finley wants Elster to discuss his involvement in the planning for the war in Iraq against a plain wall -- no edits, no questions. What is it about this image that engages you?

DD: In my work a man alone in a room may simply be a way to present a highly concentrated sense of character, an individual, in his essential isolation.  In Libra the man comes out of his room armed with a weapon.  Does the man in Point Omega emerge from the dark screening room simply to enter the room where he lives, or will he begin a relationship with the young woman he meets in the gallery, and toward what end?

BNR: And Elster?

DD: The anonymous man man spends most of his time in the gallery standing against the wall, watching intently.  The man in the central narrative, Richard Elster, is asked to be the subject of a film -- a man against a wall.  The idea I had in mind was to allow the novel and video to share certain elements.  The two forms tend to spill into each other at times.  A man at a wall: a reference to stairways; a knife, a sheriff, a shower curtain.

BNR: To interest Elster in his film idea, Finley follows him to his home in the Southwestern desert, a landscape that’s interested you before.  Is it the alteration of time and space in the vast emptiness that attracts you?

DD: It was only after I finished work on the prologue that I began to think seriously about what would follow.  It occurred to me that two men -- unnamed -- who’d spent a few moments in the screening room would in fact be the main characters in the work ahead.  The older man, Elster, and the young filmmaker, Jim Finley.  And I knew that the central narrative would take place in an environment very different from that of the dark screening room at the museum.  I remembered the desert area, Anza-Borrego, that I’d visited years earlier -- heat, space, sky, enormous distances.  Also time -- but not the scrupulously refined time of the 24-hour videowork.  This is the vast meditative time of the desert, geologic time, making Elster think about evolution and extinction.

BNR: Why does Elster want to get “beyond language?” Is it a way to avoid his culpability in planning the war?

DD: Elster is an intellectual seduced by power.  Invited by someone in the Bush administration to join the war councils as a scholar who might bring well-rounded concepts to the practical considerations of military strategists, he becomes disillusioned by the technocratic nature of the secret discussions.  He is an advocate of the Iraq war -- a “defense intellectual” whose ideas are ignored.

BNR: An armchair warrior, Elster is also a powerful personality, a bit Oppenheimer-like -- he quotes Rilke!  Was the idea to humanize a character we might otherwise dislike out of hand?

DD: I don’t think of characters in my work as “sympathetic” or “unsympathetic.” Elster has the free-ranging mind of a man of ideas -- interdisciplinary, someone tells him -- but is otherwise narrowly focused, not very aware of others as individuals.  Some intellectuals, left and right, favored the invasion of Iraq.  Elster shows no signs of regretting his political feelings but the novel itself is not at all political.

BNR: This is your shortest novel.  Is that a reflection of the desire everywhere in the book to alter time and space?  Would you call this your most philosophical book since, say, Ratner’s Star or The Names?

DD: In my experience, a novel determines its own size and shape.  I’ve never tried to expand a book beyond what seemed its natural borders; and invariably, book to book, I’ve sensed structure becoming apparent -- sensed it rather than imposed it willfully.  In its reflections on time and loss, this may be a philosophical novel and maybe, considering its themes, the book shares a place in my work with The Body Artist, another novel of abbreviated length.

BNR: Elster cites Teilhard de Chardin and his notion of a “point omega” as his inspiration.  Like Teilhard, doe he seek transcendence -- a physics of immortality?

DD: In his book The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin suggests that many of his readers would finish the book wondering whether they’d been led “through facts, through metaphysics or through dreams.”  Elster is attracted to Teilhard’s ideas on all three counts.  But his sense that human consciousness is exhausted may be inseparable from his sour experience in life, personal and professional.  “Something’s coming,” he says in the context of worldwide global conflict.  “Time to close it all down.  This is what drives us now.”

BNR: Finley’s previous documentary about Jerry Lewis’s telethons converts Lewis into a “disease artist.”  Is his intent to turn Elster into a “war artist?”

DD: Jim Finley is interested in Elster’s experience in the war rooms but he is also interested in film itself.  He is willing to let Elster talk about any subject that occurs to him.  The film will have no offscreen voice, no expert commentary, no documentary war footage.  Finley wants a man against a bare wall -- even if, for long periods, the man remains silent.  The man is Elster.  On film, Finley believes, a man’s face is his soul.

BNR: When Elster and Finley go to MOMA, Elster prefers the Dada art while Finley wants him to appreciate Gordon’s video.  Is this a reflection of Elster’s general desire to destroy time?

DD: At the Museum of Modern Art, during the period which those scenes appear in the novel, 24 Hour Psycho shared the sixth-floor galleries with a show on Dada.  There is no thematic reason for Finley and Elster to meet there.  Finley is simply wandering through the show on Dada and Elster is there most likely because he has written on the subject of baby talk.  This is one instance in which elements of the novel fit together; the two nameless men visiting the gallery in the prologue are seen fifty pages later with names, faces, identities.

BNR: When Elster’s daughter, Jessie, arrives at the desert house, the novel takes a surprising turn.  What happens to her completely unnerves her father.  But why does he want it to be a “pure mystery?”

DD: The appearance of Elster’s daughter, Jessie, changes the direction of the narrative, and when she becomes the subject of an unforeseen event, Elster, in his shock and mounting despair, wants the mystery that attends the event to be “shapeless.”  He is afraid to imagine actual details, whatever elements of physical force might have played a part.

BNR: Is Elster’s “local grief” the real omega point for him?  In the sense that he can’t deal with personal tragedy after the grand abstraction of the war?

DD: Elster’s thoughts on war, evolution, extinction -- his ideas on subjects of vast breadth and sweep -- begin to seem “so much dead echo.”  Everything has been cruelly narrowed to one deeply personal crisis -- his omega point in a way, the last letter, the last number, a sense of final breath.

BNR: Is there a prevailing cinematic spirit here?  And is it Hitchock?  Or Antonioni, whose L’Adventura shares a similar unsolved mystery?

DD: Alfred Hitchock’s Psycho has traceable origins.  First there was a crime, then a news story, then a novel, then a movie script and finally the movie itself, which was then followed, many years later, by Douglas Gordon’s videowork.  Point Omega has its first glimpse of life in the videowork but there is no prevailing directorial spirit informing the novel.  Just the author’s.

BNR: The epilogue takes us back in time, and introduces some peculiar twists.  Is it a clue to Jessie’s fate?

DD: The epilogue occurs a day after the prologue.  What occurs there may be a clue to Jessie’s fate.  But only that, a clue, a glimmer, a possibility.

BNR: Teilhard is quite out of fashion these days.  Is he remembered from your own Catholic school days?

DD: I read Teilhard de Chardin’s book about the time I was getting out of college [Fordham University, a Jesuit institution].  When I started work, all these years later, on this novel, it occurred to me that some of Richard Elster’s developing thoughts on certain subjects might be related to Teilhard’s visions of transcendence.  I reread his book and decided to make a direct link between the Jesuit theologian and the scholar in exile.

BNR: How would you describe the language of this novel?

DD: The language of this novel, as always, began to flow from the situations, the characters, the general mood of the narrative.  I’m not sure I know how to characterize it.  The prologue and epilogue tend to be tighter and perhaps more compact than the central narrative, as befits the setting and the character who is situated in the dark gallery; elsewhere the language is Jim Finley’s, a little more expansive, a little more informal.  Time and loss.  The elements that inform the novel help shape the language.

BNR: Elster’s speech especially seems to derive from some engagement by you with a specialized literature, or is it pure invention?

DD: Elster’s speech is pure invention, rambling, introverted, sometimes shaped by clear-minded memory, other times by scotch or vodka.

BNR: The recent story in The New Yorker is your first short fiction in ages.  More in the works?

DD: What’s next?  I’ve made some notes for another short story, the first sentence of which awaits completion of the sentence now taking shape on this page.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Point Omega 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
ScottRPh More than 1 year ago
I've read DeLillo before and enjoyed his winding esoterica but this wasn't worth the trip.There wasn't enough of anything if you like 'anything'. Mystery, suspense, characters, sex, plot etc...all must be lying somewhere cause they aren't here.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a quick engaging read that took me in more and more over the course of the reading. Brought together with careful character sketches/constructions and lyrical prose, DeLillo's work here was both memorable and thought-provoking. It stood up to (and perhaps even surpassed) the works of his I've read in the past, and I have no doubt that it's a work I'll come back to. It's something you'll likely read in one sitting, and it will likely also stick with you. Recommended.
gergacheck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sunsets were nothing more than dying light now, the dimming of chance.This book is about times--personal time, film time, desert time, subliminal time, geologic time. It also forces on the reader a time dictated by the novel. Point Omega is exceedingly short, and the plot fairly shallow. The whole of the story could have been a vignette from Underworld: a film-maker would like to actualize his latest vision by filming non-stop the unscripted rambling of an ex-military intelligence man who purposefully lives completely isolated from the world he used to know, way out in the desert. The film-maker, the man and his daughter interact and some things happen. That¿s it. But the plot isn¿t what makes this book fantastic. DeLillo opens in a room with a silent projection of the film Psycho playing at a speed which stretches the duration of the film to 24 hours--film time slowed way down. The viewer must engage with the film, and the reader with the narrator, at this altered speed. The speed of the big city, or your school or family life gets coopted by the multiple times of this novel--times much slower than most things. And then it¿s over, quickly, because this magnificent novel is only 117 pages long.
browner56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don DeLillo is a masterful writer. To me, the best of his fiction has helped to define and illuminate some of the most significant events in the past 50 years of the American existence: the JFK assassination (¿Libra¿), the Cold War (¿Underworld¿), and 9/11 (¿Falling Man¿). Those books remain some of the most memorable novels I¿ve read; in fact, the first 60 pages of ¿Underworld¿ represent the most compelling story-telling I can recall.It was with considerable anticipation then that I read ¿Point Omega.¿ Unfortunately, it was not a wholly satisfying experience. The main story¿and one has to use that term loosely in this case¿involves an aging intellectual who has retreated to the California desert after his involvement in helping to plot the Iraq invasion and an unsuccessful filmmaker who has come to try to convince him to appear in a documentary about his association with the Pentagon. As their time together in the desert drags on, the film project is forgotten with the arrival of the intellectual¿s daughter. The mystery of her subsequent disappearance provides the novella with the aspects of a thriller. This plotline is framed in the opening and closing chapters with the New York screening of ¿24 Hour Psycho,¿ an art installation in which Hitchcock¿s classic movie is slowed down to last for a full day. The disjointed images on the screen and elongated sense of time become a metaphor for the entire book.I found all of this to be both contrived and more than a little implausible. There is very little in the way of character development through the story and so it really becomes nothing more than a vehicle for making the point that, as a nation, we appear to reaching the end of our time (i.e., the ¿omega point¿ of the title). What redeemed the reading for me, however, was the fact that DeLillo is just so good with some of his depictions¿particularly in the desert scenes¿that it is easy to be carried along for the duration of this brief work. I cannot imagine that ¿Point Omega¿ will be considered among the author¿s best writing, but it is still well worth the small effort it requires to digest its ideas and images.
mikemillertime on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Slow, dull and pointless, a tired retread of DeLillo's earlier works examining the noise of information, reality, pop culture, etc. Characters are bland and shallow, plot is meandering and poorly explained, the themes remain underdeveloped and sloppily tied into the novel. Maybe avant-garde diehards will love it, but I found it to be a very uninteresting read overall. At least it's very short at only 115 pages.
Sutpen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm big on endings. If a novel ties everything together at the end in a way that impresses me, I'm willing to forgive a whole lot of frustration over the course of the journey. Now, Point Omega, at 117 pages, only barely qualifies as a "journey," but I found the three sources of ideas in the book (they're technically characters, but the characterization is bare-bones) to be pretty boring. The aged intellectual Elster's speeches consist of a few interesting, if broadly sketched, notions accompanied by a whole lot of nonsensical academese. Finley sounds like he wishes he sounded more like Elster (he needn't worry, incidentally--he's well on his way), and the unnamed (or is he...?) central figure in the first and last chapters reminds me of a lot of people I took English classes with in college who thought their ideas were much more interesting than they really were.Sounds insufferable, doesn't it? I cringed my way through the first thirty pages or so, worried that DeLillo was unaware of how ridiculous these characters sometimes sound. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that they were meant to sound out of touch, for reasons that have to do with the plot, and one particular even serving to shake these characters into an awareness of the world that they've lost touch with in favor of all this insular language. Incidentally, if you're reading this review as a part of a survey of reviews to figure out what the consensus is, and whether it might be worth dropping money on this book...stop reading reviews. Some of them carelessly spoil a plot point that you'd probably rather not know about (the review below is guilty of this). The consensus is basically that the book's pretty good, particularly if you like DeLillo.So even though I sort of came to peace with the inanity of some of what goes through these characters' heads, I was still a little bit annoyed. The book was coming off too much like a summary of some stuff that Don DeLillo has been thinking about recently, sort of like some of the books Markson's been publishing in the last few years. However...the last section manages to tie the "Anonymity" sections in the MoMA that bookend the novel to the main narrative that takes place in the California desert in a really interesting, subtle way. And that's ultimately what won me over. Not immediately, though. I actually didn't see the link that the last section establishes until a couple hours after I finished the book, at which point I was at a Super Bowl party, and had a hard time explaining why I was suddenly staring at the floor, shaking my head and smiling. The great part about what DeLillo pulls off in that last section is that he doesn't just link the narratives--by extension he creates pretty interesting links among those interesting bits I was mentioning earlier. This is all pretty vague, I know, but this is one of a few literary books that I think really benefits from the element of surprise. So, in a somewhat ironic way, it's the plot that ended up redeeming all the concepts in this DeLillo novel. I came awfully close to not liking it, though, so I encourage anybody who reads Point Omega (and if you think you might want to...why not? It'll take you, what? Three, four hours?) to spend some time thinking about the thing as a whole when you finish.
inaudible on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first DeLillo, and it is a very, very good novel. As I wrote elsewhere, if an unknown writer had written this book, we would read it in awe, but for DeLillo, it has to stand up to his entire oeuvre.The only weakness in this novel is the character Jessie, but she almost works. Or maybe she does work. I haven't made up my mind yet. In any case, the limitations of her character do not get in the way of novel.I recommend watching clips from '24 Hour Psycho' before and after reading this.
nickelmoonpoet More than 1 year ago
This story seemed to go no where and be about nothing. About 20 pages toward the end didn't put me to sleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
This is a short novel, only 117 pages and makes very quick reading, although it does give you a lot to think about in the process. The story is not much. A documentary film maker who has made only one film so far, a series of selections of Jerry Lewis during his MD telethons, just Jerry, no other people. He now has an idea to film a participant in the strategist for the Iraq war, who was brought in as an outsider to help, although he had no background in the military. The film would just be him talking against a war, whatever he wanted to say, no script. The filmmaker travels to the Southwest US to try to convince him to make the film and ends up staying there with him for much longer than he had planned. The man's daughter joins them eventually. This story in sandwiched between two descriptions of man [who is he?] who is watching an exhibition at MOMA in NYC called 24 Hour Psycho, which is a screening of the Hitchcock film at a slow speed, so that the film takes 24 hours to show completely. He returns day after day and is transfixed by it. We read his internal thoughts mostly. I found the whole thing to be fascinating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago