From one of the most dazzling and essential voices in American fiction, a timely and compelling novel set in the near future about five people gathered together in a Manhattan apartment, in the midst of a catastrophic event.
Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of Covid-19. The Silence is the story of a different catastrophic event. Its resonances offer a mysterious solace.
It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity.
Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.
What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human. Never has the art of fiction been such an immediate guide to our navigation of a bewildering world. Never have DeLillo’s prescience, imagination, and language been more illuminating and essential.
“Mysterious...Unexpectedly touching...[DeLillo offers] consolation simply by enacting so well the mystery and awe of the real world.” —Joshua Ferris, The New York Times Book Review
“DeLillo [has] almost Dayglo powers as a writer.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Brilliant and astonishing…a masterpiece…manages to renew DeLillo’s longstanding obsessions while also striking deeply and swiftly at the reader’s emotions…The effect is transcendent.” —Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune
“Daring... provocative... exquisite...captures the swelling fears of our age.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
DeLillo (Zero K) applies his mastery of dialogue to a spare, contemplative story of a group of New Yorkers and their response to a catastrophic shutdown of the world's computer systems on the night of the Super Bowl in 2022. While flying back to New York from vacation in Paris, Jim Kripps reads out the plane's altitude and speed from a screen while his poet wife, Tessa Berens, plumbs her memory for trivial facts and marvels at her ability to recover information without the assistance of a phone. Jim, an everyman whom the author describes as "nondescript," assumes the worst when the screens suddenly go blank. Their friend Max Stenner, who, with his professor wife, Diane Lucas, and her former student Martin Dekker, anticipate Jim and Tessa's arrival at their Manhattan apartment to watch the game, is deeply shaken when his own screen goes blank before halftime. Martin entertains Diane by reciting passages from Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity, which lead to alternately profound and tepid discussions of the shutdown, the cause of which remains unexplained even after Tessa and Jim report to the group on surviving their crash landing and a ride through eerie, dark city streets. In the end, readers gain the timely insight that some were born ready for disaster while others remain unequipped. While the work stands out among DeLillo's short fiction, it feels underpowered when compared to his novels.
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$10.00 for a 128 page book. Repetitive use of words and thinking. I got absolutely nothing out of his writing except that I wasted several hours of my time reading it.