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Bookmarks Issue: 
46-May-June-2010
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A-Point OmegaDon DeLillo, one of America's best-loved--well, most-respected--novelists, is the author of White Noise, Libra, and Underworld. Recently Reviewed Falling Man ( 3 of 5 Stars May/June 2007)

The Story: A "defense intellectual" who helped "conceptualize" the Iraq War and could have worked for the American Enterprise Institute encounters a filmmaker who could be making him the subject of a film like Errol Morris's Fog of War. They meet at a screening of Psycho, which has been slowed down to last an entire day. That part is real--see Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho--but the two fictional characters are not sure much else is as the director follows the war planner to his desert home, thinking he has agreed to the project. In Don DeLillo's books there is often a conspiracy to be uncovered, but for this imagined advocate of "abstract war" and the man who pursues him, the cover-up may be reality itself.
Scribner. 117 pages. $24. ISBN: 9781439169957

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[L]et's not insist DeLillo keep writing Underworld. ... Meanwhile, it has been enlivening, challenging, harrowing and beautiful to imagine Point Omega, an experience I heartily recommend." Matthew Sharpe

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]hose who have given up on late-period DeLillo should give it a shot. The haunting quality he's recently strained for is comfortably in his grasp, and while his characters are as chilly as ever, the prose itself has a newly poetic grace." Mark Athitakis

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"It has only four characters, spans only 117 pages, and it could be argued nothing much happens in it--most of the book consists of conversations and interior monologues. DeLillo is a playwright as well as a novelist, and Point Omega sometimes reads like a play. But it is a powerful novel, filled with dread, suspense and strangeness." Colette Bancroft

Kansas City Star 3.5 of 5 Stars
"DeLillo offers a character study more sinister than any secret plot that may unfold. ... Point Omega offers a brooding meditation on death, guilt and the helplessness that violence inevitably unearths in us." Zac Gall

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Although Mr. DeLillo extracts considerable suspense from his story, while building a Pinteresque sense of dread, there is something suffocating and airless about this entire production. Unlike the people in his most memorable novels, the three characters here do not live in a recognizable America or recognizable reality--rather, they feel like roles written for a stylized and highly contrived theater piece." Michiko Kakutani

San Francisco Chronicle 2.5 of 5 Stars
"In the best of Don DeLillo's work--The Names, White Noise--narrative distortions and reshapings of everyday life help us to see reality more clearly. Alas, in Point Omega, the latest work of fiction by one of the most deservedly lauded writers of our time, the curse of self-parody appears to be taking hold." Alan Cheuse

Entertainment Weekly 2 of 5 Stars
"The rhythm of DeLillo's writing is, as always, hypnotic. But his narrative seems like an excuse to drone on and on about the end of the American empire. Point Omega feels like the abandoned sketches of a longer novel that wasn't quite ready to be taken out of the oven." Chris Nashawaty

NY Times Book Review 2 of 5 Stars
"[L]ongtime admirers will approach DeLillo's new novel, Point Omega, with as much anxiety as excitement. ... The good bits in Point Omega keep reminding you of older good bits that turn out also to be better bits." Geoff Dyer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 of 5 Stars
"As Mr. DeLillo continues to distill his fiction into smaller and smaller pieces--this book is only 117 pages long--his writing seems to be devolving into a kind of shorthand, mostly dialogue and characters reduced to ideas." Bob Hoover

Critical Summary

As nearly every reviewer of Point Omega noted, it is hard for an author of as many great books as Don DeLillo to write anything that will not be assessed in the shadow of his earlier work. They then proceeded to do so. Some critics, noting that this novella is not nearly as enmeshed with American life as the author's longer works, defended DeLillo's right to do something different. Others saw continuities with recent titles, claiming that in Omega Point, DeLillo finally achieves the mystical minimalism he sought in books like Falling Man. But many critics saw Omega Point as an attenuated version of the author's best work or, at worst, a kind of self-parody. But all seemed so fascinated by DeLillo that even if Omega Point is just a shadow of his best-known works, they were willing to stand in it for a little while.