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827 pages, Paperback
First published October 3, 1997
Yes, the dead fall upon the living. But he begins to see that the living are sinners. The cardplayers, the lovers who dally, he sees the king in an ermine cloak with his fortune stashed in hogshead drums. The dead have come to empty out the wine gourds, to serve a skull on a platter to gentlefolk at their meal. He sees gluttony, lust and greed.
The whole beat landscape was bomb-shadowed. It always had been. The beats didn’t need a missile crisis to make them think about the bomb. The bomb was their handiest reference to the moral squalor of America, the guilty place of smokestacks and robot corporations, Time-magazined and J. Edgar Hoovered, where people sat hunched over cups of coffee in a thousand rainswept truck stops on the jazz prairie, secret Trotskyites and sad nymphomaniacs with Buddhist pussies…
DeLillo-romanen angret jeg på i det samme jeg kom ut, for selv om jeg en gang hade hadde vært fan av ham, særlig romanene The Names og White Noise, hadde jeg ikke klart å lese mer en halve av Underworld, og siden neste bok hadde vært forferderlig, var det åpenbart at han var på hell.
I regretted the DeLillo novel the moment I came out, since even if I once had been a fan, particularly of the novels The Names and White Noise, I hadn't been able to read more than half of Underworld, and considering that the next book had been terrible, it was clear he was on the way down.
"You have a history," she said, "that you are responsible to."
"What do you mean by responsible to?"
"You're responsible to it. You're answerable. You're required to try to make sense of it. You owe it your complete attention." (512)
"you're thinking all the universal things men have always thought about and said to each other, get in her pants? did you get in? did you get some? did you make it? how far'd you get? how far'd she go? is she an easy lay? is she a good hump? is she a piece? did you get a piece? it's like the language of yard goods, piece goods, you can make her, she can be made, it's like a garment factory, ... he's a makeout artist, she's a piece, ....**
“The front page astonished him, a pair of three-column headlines dominating. To his left the Giants capture the pennant, beating the Dodgers on a dramatic home run in the ninth inning. And to the right, symmetrically mated, same typeface, same-size type, same number of lines, the USSR explodes an atomic bomb – kaboom – details kept secret.” (668)
“He didn't understand why the Times would take a ball game off the sports page and juxtapose it with news of such ominous consequence.” (668)
“The ball was an object passing through.”
“The earth opened up and he stepped inside...I think he went under. I don't think he wanted a fresh start or a new life or even an escape. I think he wanted to go under.” (809)
“What mattered were the mysteries, not the language in which you said them.” (757)
“We can't see the world clearly until we understand how nature is organised. We need to count, measure and test. This is the scientific method. Science. The observation and description of phenomena. Phenomena. Things perceptible to the senses.” (734)
“How is it that a few marks chalked on a blackboard, a few little squiggly signs can change the shape of human history?...I want to know how it is that a few marks on a slate or a piece of paper, a little black on white, or white on black, can carry so much information and contain such shattering implications. Never mind the energy packed in the atom. What about the energy contained in this equation (E equals MC squared)? This is the real power. How the mind operates. How the mind identifies, analyses and represents. What beauty and power. What marvels of imagination does it require to reduce the complex forces of nature, all those unseeable magical actions inside the atom – to express all this with a bing and a bang on a blackboard.” (736)
“The Jesuits taught me to examine things for second meanings and deeper connections.” (88)