SRQ Book Club: The Silence by Don DeLillo

Arts & Culture

BY ROXANNE BAKER, BOOKSELLER AT BOOKSTORE1 SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY NOV 13, 2020

Reincarnate Ernest Hemingway, shut him away for a month with all of our contemporary technology; cell phone, apps, Apple TV, in home theaters, and then give him a pen. The result might be a close facsimile to Don DeLillo’s newest novella The Silence.

The premise’s plane crash and power outage affect at least the major Metro New York City area, disabling electrical power and with it, all gadgets with screens. The action centers on two couples and one of the wives’ former students who is now a professor of high intellect and a penchant for Einstein. Mix in a globalist perspective (one of the couple’s had just returned from France) and a Kaufmanesque fixation on trying to remember the details of life and you have classic Delillo cynicism stew.

Besides the Hemingwayesque writer’s voice, there are also literary whiffs of Sartre’s No Exit with each of the five characters receiving his or her own monologue, Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street with the ‘out of the mouths of babe’ wisdom of the youngest Einstein expert. DeLillo himself uses an allusion to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake which prompted me to relisten to one of the most timeless 2020 moments when Jennifer Hudson sang a perfect rendition of For All We Know at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service.

DeLillo’s novella forces one to recognize we are part of the collective and the individual and in my optimistic mind, a plea to recognize the preciousness of each other and the present moment rather than overanalyze.

Roxanne Baker is a Bookseller at BookStore1 Sarasota. Bookstore1Sarasota was opened in 2011 with one mission: to bring a high-quality independent bookstore to the Sarasota area. Their passion for the joy of books inspired them in the beginning and continues to drive them today. They offer a shopping experience curated with their customers in mind, and are gratified by the long-term relationships they have built with those who have come through their door: patrons and authors alike. 

Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, 941-365-7900, georgia@sarasotabooks.com

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