White Noise Critical Essays

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Many readers found Gladney more approachable than the alienated protagonists of De Lillo's previous works; many adults— especially, I suspect, academics— would echo Gladney's blend of denunciation of and baffled appreciation for popular culture.

But the novel's most immediately appealing quality is its humor: it's simply a very funny book.

But Jack doesn't take up skydiving or learn to box.

Instead, after learning that Babette has been involved in a secret experiment involving Dylar, a drug designed to dispel the fear of death, he schemes to get some at any cost.

De Lillo's treatment of these ubiquitous features of contemporary life is surprisingly balanced: although he satirizes the family's addictions, he gives many of the best lines to J ack's colleague Murray Jay Siskind, who enthusiastically celebrates television and shopping as contemporary religious rituals.

De Lillo dramatizes the omnipresence of TV and consumerism by punctuating the scenes with disembodied electronic voices and lists of brand names.

He is the author of eleven novels, including White Noise (1985), which won the National Book Award, and Libra (1988), which won the Irish Times-hex Lingus International Fiction Prize. Other novels include Americana (1971), End Zone (1972), Running Dog (1978), and The Names (1982). Don De Lillo is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Mark Osteen is an associate professor of English at Loyola College in Maryland.

And just as the family members gorge themselves with disposable information and fast food, so are they also inundated by consumer goods, not only when they visit the supermarket and the mall, but also when they are at home watching television, which they seem to do constantly.

Indeed, White Noise is preoccupied with consumerism and with the values inherent in a consumer society.


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