Don DeLillo: Three Novels of the 1980s (LOA #363): The Names / White Noise / Libra (Hardcover)
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A definitive edition of a modern master: three essential works that reveal his incomparable style, dark humor, and uncanny sensitivity to the complexities of "living in dangerous times"
Includes White Noise, now a major motion picture starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig
This first volume in the Library of America Don DeLillo edition presents three indispensable novels from the 1980s, published here with new prefaces from the author.
The Names (1982) was DeLillo's breakthrough novel, a book that, as he reflects here, spanned a “broader expanse” than his earlier novels. James Axton, a “risk analyst” tasked with assessing dangers for his corporate clients from terrorism and other forms of political upheaval, uncovers evidence of ritual murders committed by a cult obsessed with ancient languages. The investigations of these crimes yields a profound series of meditations on identity, disconnection, and the nature of language itself.
Part campus satire, part midlife character study, and part fever dream of a hyperreality that has become uncannily familiar, the National Book Award–winning White Noise (1985) creates a terrifying yet wickedly funny portrait of a postmodern America that is still recognizably ours, a world where children chant brand names in their sleep, university professors “read nothing but cereal boxes,” and “you are the sum of your data.”
Three years in the research and writing, Libra (1988) offers a magnificent counter-history of the JFK assassination and a nuanced portrait of the president’s murderer. DeLillo has observed that “the novel, working within history, is also outside it, correcting, clearing up, finding balances and rhythms.” The result is a revelatory new depiction of a defining event in twentieth-century history.
Rounding out the volume are two hard-to-find essays directly related to the novels: “American Blood,” the 1983 Rolling Stone article that was DeLillo’s first effort to grapple with the JFK assassination and the welter of information and speculation the events of the killing and Oswald’s own murder by Jack Ruby; and “Silhouette City,” an assessment of extremist right-wing groups and the troubling presence of neo-Nazism in the United States.
About the Author
Don DeLillo (b. 1936) is the author of fifteen novels (as well as a pseudonymous novel written with a collaborator), along with plays and the story collection The Angel Esmerelda. He was awarded the National Book Award for White Noise, the PEN/Faulkner award for Mao II, and the Jerusalem Prize and the William Dean Howells medal for Underworld. He was granted the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2010, the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2013, and the 2015 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.
Mark Osteen is the author of American Magic and Dread: Don DeLillo’s Dialogue with Culture (2000) and the editor of the Viking Critical Edition of DeLillo’s White Noise. He is currently director of the Loyola University Center for the Humanities.