Review: Don DeLillo – “Libra”

LibraLibra by Don DeLillo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

See the truth and know it, if you can.

It’s easy to see why David Foster Wallace – or, indeed, anybody – likes Don DeLillo: his dense, lingually contorted novels leave a stronghold on one’s mind beyond the fact. In my case, I seldom remember the plots, but I can remember certain scenes or feelings invoked, mainly as few authors have managed both in the same way before.

It’s less about the contents and more about a general sentiment.

Workmen carried lanterns along adjacent tracks. He kept a watch for sewer rats. A tenth of a second was all it took to see a thing complete. Then the express stations, the creaky brakes, people bunched like refugees. They came wagging through the doors, banged against the rubber edges, inched their way in, were quickly pinned, looking out past the nearest heads into that practiced oblivion.

As the book states, this is about the Kennedy assassination. Oswald was a Libra. Does he buy into the whole Oswald-did-it-thing? Does anybody care?

There is political intrigue here. Language snakes around as a man hits the person he’s romantically entangled with, which turned me into near-vomit; one of the fores of DeLillo’s strengths are how he can describe dramatic detail with few words and yet, together with the use of idiomatic expressions in dialogue, refrain from sounding tart or obtuse.

She saw him from a distance even when he was hitting her. He was never fully there.

Yes yes yes yes. God is alive and well in Texas.

Paragraphs turn into short stories at times:

“I’ll tell you a good sign,” Lee said. “I order the handgun in January, I order the rifle in March. Both guns arrive the same day. My wife would say it’s fate.” “What did you tell her about tonight?” “She thinks I’m at typing class. I dropped out of typing class two weeks ago. I got fired from my job last Saturday was my last day.”

“I have the primitive fear,” Ferrie said. “All my fears are primitive. It’s the limbic system of the brain. I’ve got a million years of terror stored up in there.” He wore a crushed sun hat, the expressive brows like clown paint over his eyes. He handed Wayne the rifle. They watched him walk to the lopsided dock and climb into the skiff.

All in all, I really got into this book around the 350-page mark. Was it worth it? Yes.

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