Review: ‘White Noise’ puts a loud, brash and enjoyable spin on a Don DeLillo classic.
White Noise is the second novel from Don DeLillo, and it is not his usual sound that you’d expect: It’s much more subdued, more introspective; it feels like a series of unconnected fragments rather than a whole thing. The book was first published in 1993, and it seems more like a meditation on life and death that’s become a testament to how easily we can convince ourselves we know the right thing to do, rather than one of the most famous novels in American literature.
There’s a lot going on in White Noise, and it’s interesting to reflect on this book within the context of the time it was written. DeLillo’s first novel, The Body Artist, was published in the early 1980s. That book was the debut of something that would become a genre (and a huge part of DeLillo’s literary legacy). The Body Artist was DeLillo’s first stab at writing that sort of sprawling, sprawling book, though it was also the point at which he realised there was going to be a need for him to write a book like Hemingway, one that would span a lifetime. So, by the time The White Album came out in 1994, DeLillo was on a par with Hemingway and was doing the same sort of thing, though he had a better grasp of what Hemingway was trying to do.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, one of the things that makes this book different is that, as a piece of fiction, it’s not quite like the classic Don DeLillo novel, because it’s not really a long novel. It’s a meditation on life, one that unfolds in a stream of consciousness. And there are a few moments in this book where you wonder, “Wait, is that really happening?” And then the book continues on, because there are moments when you’re sitting in a restaurant in Brooklyn, or you’re standing with a friend on a street corner in New York City, and you’re