By Daniel L. Sonnenberg
DeLillo delivers a disjointed tale of a college professor and his postmodern family, friends and enemies attempting to cope with a chaotic world of consumer goods and deadly by-products. The story of Jack and his fourth (or was it fifth?) wife, Babette and their “his-hers-and-and-ours” family fade in and out of view as the reader is barraged by MTV-like ‘thought-impressions’ that seem to float through the minds of the various characters. The final impression is a community and society filled with frustration, fear, confusion, and hopelessness. It is a commentary on our ultra-modern world, devoid of connections to ultimate truth and timelessness.
This is certainly one of the most frustrating books I’ve read in a long time. The story line barely held together, being constantly interrupted by meaningless trivia. However, in the final analysis the author made his point – we live in a confused world of our own making, with misplaced hopes in consumer products and technology rather than relationships based on timeless truth. We are taken up in meaninglessness and the result is futility.