I took a walk this evening. I could write about the eerie quiet of my suburban neighborhood at twilight, or the odd geometry of the local high school’s main building, or the etiquette that applies to meeting another pedestrian. If I strung together enough such descriptions and observations, putting them in the mouths of several characters, I’d have a novel. If I had enough skill, I’d have a novel by Don DeLillo.
End Zone is about a college football player named Gary Harkness. After an erratic career at some larger schools, he has ended up at an obscure college in a desolate part of Texas. Gary has a special interest in nuclear warfare. His fellow players and students and the college staff have their own distinctive peculiarities and concerns, which they discuss with Gary in unrealistically vivid, intellectual language. No small college in Texas has ever had such universally well-spoken football players. The centerpiece of the novel is an engrossing account of a single game.
I was expecting more of a plot, but still enjoyed the book. There is something going on here, although it’s not clear what it is. As usual, DeLillo’s characters have a lot on their minds. Too much, in fact, like many of us. (6/3/11)
Never read much of Delillo’s earlier stuff – is this one you would recommend?
If you enjoyed some of his later work, you might enjoy End Zone. I think it’s more accessible than some of his other early novels, like Ratner’s Star and Players and The Names (which I read many years ago). If I had to recommend one earlier novel of his, it would probably be White Noise, although that’s more middle-period than early. I tried reading his first novel, Americana, recently but didn’t find it interesting at all. So if you want to read one of his early novels, End Zone might be a good place to start.
Thanks. I’ve read White Noise, kind of liked it, kind of didn’t see the point. I loved Libra and Underworld, especially the opening section. Always like his prose but sometimes feel the stories themselves are a bit empty or straining for importance. I’ll try End Zone. I heard The Names is pretty good too
You might not see the point to End Zone either. I’m not sure I did. (We seem to have a similar opinion about his novels. Yet I’m still reading them.)