White Noise by Don DeLillo

This post is in the theme Influences on my own Creative Work. Read the first.

January 10, New York: This was one of the first books I read for pleasure after I graduated from college— it was a college book, so many others had read it in classes and for whatever reason I’d read The Odyssey twice and never White Noise. And so I read it and so I loved it. It was an inspirational book, something to aspire to, to take thought and sound and general aural environment and weave it together into prose that so naturally fits the reality around the characters. I wanted to write, author, novelize, scribe, describe, transcribe like Don DeLillo.

White Noise was also humbling in that I never expected to actually write in this style. I could love reading it and be inspired by it, but not mimic. That happened accidentally. All work with which I’d strongly connected prior to this book I’d sought to mimic. This stood apart. Made me want to develop a voice this strong, a voice of my own, and spew forth the prose. I don’t know if this was a function so much of White Noise as it was my age, a number growing slowly larger.

From a purely critical point of view, White Noise is also interesting because it is so technologically focused and in a moment of transitional technology. Tape decks, VCRs, terrestrial television— these are all things that future collegiate readers will struggle to understand. Half the teaching of this book will become explaining the setting of the 1980s. An argument for (and perhaps against) writing books that are timeless, technologically.

I read this book on a piece of technology that did not exist at its writing, but if it did, would have been a part of the story for sure. You should too.

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