An unparalleled work of historical conjecture, ranging imaginatively over huge tracts of the American popular consciousness, Don DeLillo's "Libra" contains an introduction by the author in "Penguin Modern Classics". In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles ...
An unparalleled work of historical conjecture, ranging imaginatively over huge tracts of the American popular consciousness, Don DeLillo's "Libra" contains an introduction by the author in "Penguin Modern Classics". In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of JFK will galvanize the nation against Communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped. Don DeLillo (b.1936) was born and raised in New York City. "Americana" (1971), his first novel, announced the arrival of a major literary talent, and the novels that followed confirmed his reputation as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in late-twentieth-century American fiction. DeLillo's comic gifts come to the fore in "White Noise" (1985), which won the National Book Award, "Underworld" (1997), hailed by Martin Amis as 'the ascension of a great writer', "Cosmopolis" (2003), adapted into a film by David Cronenberg, due to be released later this year, and "Falling Man" (2007), a novel about the aftereffects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. If you enjoyed "Libra", you might like DeLillo's "Americana", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "Don DeLillo's apocalyptic imagination takes on the assassination of John F. Kennedy...Breathtaking". ("Newsday").
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LIBRA is DeLillo's best book, and much better than the Warren Commission Report.
Jan 1, 2010
Don Delillo's novel is a marvel of historical fiction. He succeeds in taking a banal and mediocre personality -- Lee H. Oswald's -- and lends it a depth that approaches gravitas. Above this, however, Delillo's greatest achievement in this novel is capturing perfectly the absolutely ungrammatical way people -- even educated people -- actually speak. We do not, after all, speak in complete sentences. Or, rather, we seldom do. We speak in fragments and solecisms. I give this book my highest recommendation. It's the best thing I've read in years.
Publishers Weekly, 1988-07-15 DeLillo's ninth novel takes its title from Lee Harvey Oswald's zodiac sign, the sign of ``balance.'' And, as in all his fiction ( Running Dog , The Names , White Noise ), DeLillo's perfectly realized aim is to balance plot, theme and structure so that the novel he builds around Oswald (an unlikely and disturbingly sympathetic protagonist) provokes the reader with its clever use of history, its dramatic pacing and its immaculate and detailed construction. The plot of the novel is history itselfand history, here, is a system of plots and conspiracies: the U.S. government has plotted to invade Cuba, and there are CIA agents who want retribution against President Kennedy for his halfhearted support of the Bay of Pigs operation; there are Cubans plotting revenge on JFK for the same reason and for, they fear, his plot to forge a rapprochement with Castro; there is a lone gunman, Oswald, who is conspired upon by history and circumstance, and who himself plots against the status quo. The novel bears dissection on many levels, but is, taken whole, a seamless, brilliant work of compelling fiction. What makes Libra so unsettling is DeLillo's ability to integrate literary criticism into the narrative, commenting throughout on the nature and conventions of fiction itself without disturbing the flow of his story. The characters are storytellers: CIA agents and Cuban immigrants retell old plots in their minds and write fantasy plots to keep themselves alive; Nicholas Branch, also of the CIA, has spent 15 years writing an in-house history of the assassination that will never uncover its deepest secrets and that in any case no one will read; Oswald, defecting to the Soviet Union, hopes to write short stories of contemporary American lifedyslexic, he is aware of words as pictures of themselves not simply as name tags for the material world. DeLillo interweaves fact and fiction as he draws us inexorably toward Dallas, November 22. The real people (Jack Ruby, Oswald, his mother and Russian wife) are retrieved from history and made human, their stories involving and absorbing; the imagined characters are placed into history as DeLillo imagines it to have come to pass. By subtly juxtaposing the blinding intensity of DeLillo's own crystal-clear, composite version of events against the blurred reality of the Zapruder film and other artifacts of the actual assassination, Libra ultimately becomes a comment on the entire body of DeLillo's work: Why do we understand fiction to reflect truth? Why do we trust a novelist to tell us the whole story? And what is the truth that fiction reveals? 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection; QPBC selection; first serial to Esquire. (August) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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