This is a collection of short stories DeLillo has written over the years. I love Delillo ever since Underworld and have both gone back to catch a few and always kept up with his newer works.
DeLillo has an edge to his style, he transmits a fear and a loneliness, a disconnect that’s usually a part of urban life but with him, it happens in the desert, too. He also uses the media as a theme and how it relates to our lives and connections, disconnections and the boundaries of connection. This book:
1. Part 1
“Creation” (1979) – the story of a couple trying to get to an island but delayed by plane and passport difficulties. Jill reads and her husband, the first person protagonist, watches another woman. There is a distinct disconnect here and another reconnection.
basic idea is that the couple can’t “connect” with the right plane.
“Human Moments in World War III” (1983) – the story of two astronauts during WWIII. They connect but one gets very aggravated by the other. Most connection with the Earth is by some techie media. With too much connection you need some disconnect but how do you reconnect and with what?
“The Runner” (1988) A man is jogging in the park when a car slams up to a playground and leaves. The runner doesn’t quite see what happens but the woman he talks to later did – saw everything, knows everything. Who is connecting, is it real? They connected but is it a good connection?
“The Ivory Acrobat” (1988) A woman school teacher in Greece is living through a series of serious earthquakes. She lives alone but now, thanks to the earthquake, she meets lots of people. They share experiences. She has a deep desire to connect. But where are the boundaries? They seem to have come tumbling down with the quake.
“The Angel Esmeralda” (1995)
I’ve read this before – it’s a big-time favorite. The old wimpled ex-school teacher nun goes with the younger church folks to distribute food in the barrio/ghetto. She sees the kids there, the products of drug abuse, AIDS, whatever – their own parents sometimes. Esmeralda (“emerald” in Spanish) is a 12 year-old girl who runs through the buildings alone, her mother is nowhere. A media frenzy shows all the people trying to connect. Bellerophon?
The story of a woman looking at gruesome terrorist photos (media) who is approached and then followed by a man who introduces himself but doesn’t seem to want to hear the word “no.” He is, in his own way, a terrorist and she is trying to disconnect. Did she connect too strongly with the photos?
“Midnight in Dostoevsky” (2009)
The story of two students who develop a fixation on one of their professors and invent a life for the mysterious and reclusive man. They are trying to connect some way. There is also a girl with whom one student has connected.
“Hammer and Sickle” (2010)
A man in a minimum security prison for stock manipulation goes about his day wondering about the others and seeing his young daughters “report” the news on TV for some reason. This is a reverse connection via the media.
“The Starveling” (2011)
A divorced but still attached man, an obsessive movie watcher, has his daily routines and starts following another watcher. Connected by media and perhaps wanting more.