Americana

ISBN: 0140119485
ISBN 13: 9780140119480
By: Don DeLillo

Check Price Now

Genres

American Americana Contemporary Don Delillo Favorites Fiction Literary Fiction Literature Novels To Read

About this book

At twenty-eight, David Bell is the American Dream come true. He has fought his way to the top, surviving office purges and scandals tobecome a top television executive. David's world is made up of the images that flicker across America's screens, the fantasies that enthrall America's imagination. And the the dream--and the dream-making--become a nightmare. At the height of his success, David sets out to rediscover reality. Camera in hand, he journeys across the country in a mad and moving attempt to capture, to impose a pattern on his own, and America's past, present, and future.

Reader's Thoughts

Lacey

I really wanted to like this book. I remember when I read DeLillo's book "Libra" that I had been completely enamored with his prose. It was a really good book, and he had a penchant for detail that was completely unmatched. And the prose in Americana is good, but I just didn't like it as much. It's not DeLillo's best.There are a lot of good things I can say about the book. I did love his repetition of icons and ideas that really are associated with Americana: the cheap hotel room, the idea of female sexuality as glorified by commercials, the romantic ideals of cross-country travel. The strongest sections are those in which the protagonist, David Bell, reflects on his own past, particularly his memories of his family and his mother.There is also a clear transformation in David's character from the beginning of the book to the end, and that ultimately comprises the majority of the story arch. And DeLillo's prose is still very lush and exciting at points. I definitely love the way he phrases things because it is very vivid and alive.What is important to note about Americana is that it was DeLillo's first novel. He can't be expected to have the poise and delicacy in his early writing that he would later in his career with works such as "Libra" and "Underworld." Further, some of the frustration I had with the novel may be more a matter of timing. The novel was written in 1971 and was very much a novel of its own time. The Vietnam War is at the front of consciousness throughout the book, as are elements of changing cultural mores. It seems an early example of the kind of work that would inspire the likes of Bret Easton Ellis, with his literature of the grotesque, and it is clear that the novel investigates many postmodern elements.All said, while Americana wasn't all that good itself, I would recommend it to any DeLillo fan in order to gain a wider understanding of his work. For anyone else, I would recommend DeLillo and I would start with his excellent novel, "Libra."

Rayroy

Delillo writes about image and death and it seems that most of his characters are fascinated by war and terrorism, whether it’s David Bell from Americana or Gary Harkness of End Zone. At times it’s as if Delillo is writing thru a video camera and there’s a sense of excellent cinematography in all of Delillo’s work. Americana is Don Delillo’s first novel and I loved it but felt that the third part was lacking something, it didn’t do a lot for me and felt the other three parts were much better. I liked the nine mile race track in the end of Americana and when David Bell is in his NYC high rise office in the beginning looking out the window at the Mohawk skyscraper workers working on a skeleton of a high-rise building going up, it’s at this point, a scene only Delillo can write, that you feel David Bell's need to escape. Wonderful and ruff around the edges a brilliant first novel

Mariano Hortal

Publicado en http://lecturaylocura.com/americana-d...Cuando hablé de su novela “Los nombres” , ya comenté la necesidad de establecer diferentes ritmos de lectura según los autores que se lean. En el caso de Delillo, las prisas van reñidas con la calidad de su prosa; cuanto más la paladeas, mas te dejas mecer por su verborrea inconfundible. La sorpresa es encontrarse la primera novela que perpetró el magnífico escritor en la reedición de Seix Barral, añadirla al proyecto de lecturas , empezar la lectura cronológica de lo que te queda de él y, para tu estupefacción, encontrarte con una obra de una madurez inusitada y que bebe de las fuentes de los orígenes de la literatura norteamericana.En “Americana”, David Bell, personifica el epítome del “self-made” man, ese hombre hecho a sí mismo que es el sueño americano en una sociedad fragmentada, llena de rutinas que reflejan lo contemporáneo:“Tenía la costumbre de contar a los presentes. La cuestión de cuánta gente había en un sitio determinado me parecía importante, quizá porque los informes periódicos sobre catástrofes aéreas y escaramuzas militares siempre subrayaban el número de muertos y desaparecidos; esa precisión es como una chispa de electricidad para las mentes abotargadas. Después de eso, lo más importante es averiguar el grado de hostilidad, algo relativamente sencillo. Todo cuanto hay que hacer es devolver la mirada a las personas que te miran al entrar. Una larga ojeada suele bastar para obtener una lectura más o menos precisa. Había treinta y una personas en la estancia, de las que aproximadamente tres o cuatro eran hostiles.”“Estábamos en una fiesta, y no nos apetecía charlar el uno con el otro. De lo que se trataba precisamente era de separarse durante la velada y de encontrar gente con la que resultara excitante hablar. Luego, al final, volveríamos a reunirnos y nos contaríamos qué terrible había sido todo y cuánto nos alegrábamos de estar de nuevo juntos. He ahí la esencia de la civilización occidental.”Ahogado por esa sociedad opresora Bell decidirá emprender un viaje para filmar pequeñas escenas, llenas de anónimos, que se supone que reflejarán la esencia americana; es impagable el momento en que se encuentra un indio sioux: “Y entonces le pregunté si habían cambiado mucho las cosas desde su niñez. Me respondió que aquélla era la pregunta más inteligente que alguien le había hecho nunca. Las cosas apenas habían cambiado, tan sólo lo habían hecho los materiales, las tecnologías. Vivíamos en la misma nación de ascéticos, de expertos en competitividad, de enemigos del desperdicio.”Momento que sirve para mostrarnos uno de los temas que profundizará en su obra posterior, el avance de la tecnología como elemento peligroso y deshumanizador y su aparente repulsión a ella.En una curiosa segunda parte viviremos el pasado de Bell (“Era el invierno de mi duodécimo año de vida”) y que servirá para corroborar la importancia del tiempo en lo que hacemos, la única constante (en realidad variable?):“Lo único que existe es el tiempo. El tiempo es lo único que sucede por sí mismo.”En la tercera parte se producirá la filmación propiamente dicha, fragmentada, postmodernista; cobra importancia el cine y la propia televisión; elementos comunes, como ya indiqué anteriormente, que se irán repitiendo sucesivamente:“La ilusión de movimiento apenas resultaba relevante. Quizá lo que estaba creando no era tanto una película como un rollo manuscrito. Un delicado fragmento de papiro temeroso de ser descubierto. Los veteranos de la industria cinematográfica jurarían que todo aquello se remontaba a épocas anteriores al cinetoscopio de Edison. Para ellos mi respuesta es muy simple. Se tardan siglos en inventar lo primitivo.”Su opinión de la televisión, en boca del curioso protagonista es más que profética, habida cuenta de lo que estamos presenciando:“-¿Cuál es el papel de la televisión comercial en el siglo XX y más alla?-En mis peores estados de humor, siento que nos anuncia el caos a todos.”En la caótica última parte las palabras finales de Ton Thumb Goodloe, el evangelista de la medianoche, de veintiséis años de edad y ya camino de la gloria, reúnen todo lo que significa Delillo, para lo bueno y para lo malo,; prosa desbordante, magnífica, gloriosa, pero, al mismo tiempo, enervante para un público bastante amplio: “Necios, hipócritas, fariseos y bellacos. Con vosotros, Bestial y la hora final de La muerte está a la vuelta de la esquina. Un poco de charla filosófica. Un paseo que otro por lobotomilandia. Alguna que otra bolsa de aire rancio. Acaba de ocurrírseme, como a los patriotas y los demagogos, que no va a haceros falta mi particular concepto de la verdad a partir de ahora. Se ha decidido que las drogas habrán de suplantar a los medios de comunicación. El ardiente temor de vuestras noches y madrugadas ha de verse sustituido por un estado de dicha apagada y mortecina. Confiad en que pronto experimentaréis una liberación drogoinducida de la ansiedad, la amargura y la felicidad. Endoparásitos que sois, podréis aferraros a las paredes intestinales del propio tiempo. Pero me echaréis de menos. Las pastillas y los chicles no pueden sustituir el amor transistorizado que nos conecta en la noche salvaje. […]Esta reseña, formada por retazos, ejemplifica a la perfección las sensaciones que me produce la lectura del libro de Delillo; me cuesta recomendarlo, veo todo lo bueno, pero, al igual que ocurre con Pynchon, si no entras, no entras; no se puede obligar a la mayoría de los lectores habituales, no hablemos ya de los poco habituales; aún así, este titán inició su carrera con una obra excepcional, increíblemente buena y que, atención, parece que funciona como un círculo con su última novela escrita, “Punto omega”; donde el desierto, el tour de Force del protagonista, filmaciones en él,… suponen demasiados puntos en común para pensar en ello como una casualidad en una obra tan consistente en lo narrativo como la de DeLillo. En efecto, en “Punto Omega”, la obsesión tenía que ver con la vejez y la búsqueda de la muerte; en esta primera obra, buscaba su identidad, por extensión, la identidad de un pueblo americano en decadencia. El reflejo del “zeitgeist” de una nación:“Conduje durante toda la noche en dirección nordeste, y una vez más sentí que todos aquellos días los había pasado enfrentándome a la literatura, a los arquetipos de un misterio lúgubre, a los hijos e hijas de esos arquetipos, a imágenes que no podían alcanza la certeza de cuál de dos confusiones distintas albergaba más terror, si la suya o lo que la suya podría llegar a ser si alguna vez se enfrentara a la verdad.”

haha

My first book by Delillo to read. It was underwhelming to say the least.The first half of the book is a rather good shakedown of the life of an executive, with the secretaries, alcohol, and debauchery. Honestly it took me a long time to read this for being as short as it is. I found his aspirations to be more inline with french new wave in film by trying to create a disjointed narrative. All of the long somewhat stream of conscientiousness paragraphs, or Sullivan's story near the end. It felt verbose to me, if he wanted to be abstract, word economy would have been a better choice. Also his style would have dramatic changes, most notably the last forty pages reading like On the Road by Jack Kerouac, or rather a cheap imitation. I'm going to read another one of his books, probably Libra or White Noise.

Aprile

Mai più! Ho provato la stessa sensazione di insofferenza e claustrofobia di quando si è obbligati ad ascoltare qualcuno che vomita parole per te senza importanza

WordsBeyondBorders

Don Dellilo's works have been described as novels of ideas and I agree with that. Several of his novels have an idea/concept/contemporary social more as the base and the characters in the novel serve as props for that. (It could be consumerism/threat of nuclear warfare in 'White Noise', power of the mob/television in 'Mao II'. )However this is not to give an impression that Dellilo is trying to shove things down the readers throat, not at all. On the other hand, it seems to me like he has something to say and instead of using the non-fiction format he is writing novels. I don't claim to understand his novels fully (can we claim that of any work of art at all?) nor can I say that I enjoy reading this works (enjoy as in it's most basic meaning). But he engages me, I feel he has something to say to me, something which I have not noticed, something that I may have noticed but cannot articulate it in the way he does. That's why I keep going back to his works. I see that I am writing more about the man than about the novel which the post is about. That's because as I have said in the beginning his novels are in several cases novels of ideas and so an introduction into the author is as needed as about the work. Another thing that I noticed is that his works are sometimes rooted to America or a particular time period in America, so it could be a bit off putting to readers. For example 'Libra' is about Harvey Lee Oswald. The reader has to have some basic information on the Kennedy assassination and probably some interest in it to read it. Else it would probably not have the same impact. Or, the prologue in 'Underworld' which is a 60 page description of a baseball playoff game set in the 50's. I had to slog through it, not knowing about the base ball rules and also the context of the game which is apparently a part of American sporting folklore. (Let me put it this way, an American would have felt the same had he read a novel in which the prologue is about India's 83 world cup final match and winning it. He would be completely out of the loop isn't it).But by and large his novels address a bigger world view and we can relate to it from anywhere. Again you need to be in a certain mindset to read him (from my personal experience). If you are in no mood to read about the television images and it's impact you would probably miss the point of Mao II. (like what happened to me first time round). Considering all this, Americana Dellilo's first novel, published in 1971 is the best place to start him off. It also conforms the most to what could be termed as a conventional novel. The novel is split into 2 parts, the first part is of the office novel genre and the second part is of the road novel genre.The protagonist of the novel is 'David Bell' who is also the narrator of the novel. A film student and an executive at a television studio. He is young, highly successful with the possibility of going given higher in his profession and the future looking rosy. With all the success he has, he is looking over his shoulder to see if any younger guy is on the horizon who could overtake him and at the same time looking forward to see the persons whom he has to overtake. Like Janus of the myths, he is looking both ways. He seems to be living in a vacuum. The beginning of the novel itself tells us about his current mindset 'Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year.' (P.S Joshua Ferris's first novel is named from the first part of this line 'Then we came to end'). As the novel progresses, David settles into a sort of ennui. He sort of loses interest in his work, does not care about the ratings and generally settles down into a stupor of blank emptiness. He knows that he is ignoring his work and it would have serious ramifications, but he is beyond caring. It's like sitting on a ticking bomb or going at great speed in car towards the mountain cliff. You know you are going to crash, but are so beyond caring about what is going to happen. (Shades of this mood could be seen in Eric Packer of Dellilo published in 2003, somethings don't seem to change over the years isn't it). This part of the novel is funny at times with lots of black humor, but nothing really new if you have read other novels in the office novel genre ('Something happened' comes to mind). At the end of the first part, David finally loses wakes up from his ennui goes on a road trip with a video camera, officially to work on his job, but on a personal quest in reality. This is the second part of the novel.Armed with his camera, David sets out to the heart land of America, to basically a nowhere land. He meets various people. As his trip progresses, David starts using his camera becomes a voyeuristic tool capturing people at a most primitive level with all their defenses down . People are willing to bare their most inner most thoughts on families, friends, relationships in front of the camera. They are ready to perform sexual acts in front of the camera. It's not just about voyeurism but also says something about the willingness of people to be the object of the voyeurism. This is something that is very related in today's times of reality shows, mms scandals et all. In some ways Dellilo seems to have prefigured in the 70's ,what's happening today. David becomes more and more distanced from the reality of his professional life which is spiraling towards disaster and becomes more and more obsessed with the trip and camera itself, capturing not only people, but also the american landscape and having reminiscences about his childhood. The novel runs all over the place (much like the protagonist) and ends with David going off to Dallas to the place of Kennedy's assassination. (again a more American pre-occupation from the 60's and 70's about Kennedy's assassination). Check out this link (http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/feat...) of a Dellilo short story.

Tricia

In turns brilliant and disgusting. It really felt like Delillo was stretching his legs to see what he could do. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy his other work, but not as a first read for this author.

Angelo Ricci

C’è un destino, forse, nel percorso che lega le opere di un autore. E se questo destino appare nella sua densa e stratificata misura fin dal primo libro, allora abbiamo a che fare con Don DeLillo.Il viaggio che si compie percorrendo la produzione di uno scrittore risponde a leggi strane e in parte sconosciute che, a nostra insaputa, creano misteriosi disegni. Così come la trama a ritroso di Underworld anch’io, nel percorrere il mio personale viaggio con DeLillo, giungo infine al suo primo libro.C’è stato un tempo in cui lo scrittore italoamericano lo si trovava edito da Tullio Pironti che, per primo, lo fece conoscere al pubblico italiano. Ma Americana era invece pubblicato dal Saggiatore, in base a quei misteriosi casi di trasferimento e acquisto dei cosiddetti foreign rights. Oggi DeLillo è pubblicato da Einaudi.Ho iniziato il mio personale viaggio tra le parole di DeLillo anni fa, con Rumore bianco. Viaggio che ora mi fa approdare a questa sua opera prima così definitiva. Definitiva nella misura in cui presenta da subito tutte le sue ossessioni. Il suo voyeurismo descrittivo che lo porta ad essere osservatore del frenetico dibattersi delle vite dei suoi personaggi. La presenza costante dei feticci che circostanziano lo scorrere del tempo di una collettività che rimane basita di fronte alla propria incapacità di porsi domande. Lo stagliarsi inquietante di un paesaggio, mai veramente descritto, ma tuttavia sempre presente, che confronta metropoli (luogo di angoscianti strutture che incombono quasi senza vita) e deserto (zona di autodafé senza assoluzione alcuna). E poi l’affascinante commistione di segni stilistici, di installazioni artistiche, di performances totalizzanti che in Americana prendono le forme di una resa dei conti condotta con il mezzo della cinepresa, strumento di autoanalisi, per mezzo del quale l’io narrante coinvolge chi gli sta intorno nella creazione di un film che è, poi, il film della sua propria vita. La parola scritta a DeLillo già non basta più. Deve lasciare spazio alla commistione, alla contaminazione dei generi. La parola che si fa vettore di idee, di confronti, di narrazione nella (della) narrazione. Un gioco di specchi dove l’origine dei personaggi si perde e si trasforma lentamente in un riflesso di ricordi, di azioni, di assente corporeità.Un riflesso che, alla fine, rivelerà il nulla che circonda la nostra società.Non c’è scampo nei romanzi di DeLillo. Per nessuno e per niente.L’ostensione del nulla della nostra contemporaneità è destinata a continuare.http://nottedinebbiainpianura.blogspo...

Marc Nash

Delillo's debut novel from the early 1970s. You can see the rudiments of some of what he went on to develop in his more famous later novels. The astonishing word explosions are here a plenty " he was laughing in an exaggerated manner, overdoing it, creating the laugh as if with ceramics". There are some wonderful free-form streams of consciousness, part poetry, part jazz, particularly in the ravings of a radio disc jockey.But for all that, the book does not quite hold together. Unusually for Delillo, the protagonist is a fully-fledged character, in this case New Yorker TV Executive David Bell. His character arc of a successful man stripping himself back trying to find the authenticity of experience, reminded me very much of the protagonist of the later "Cosmopolis". But there the unburdening takes place over a much shorter time, during the course of one day, while here the quest for authenticity itself is as much without as within; the "Americana" of the book's title. Part 1 of the book is a wonderfully acerbic and accurate portrayal of office politics and paranoia and strictly defined gender roles, before the onset of the digital age and greater equality for women. Jockeying for positioning, fear of the sack, illicit sexual relationships with secretaries and yet the women holding all the true power within the office, because they hold information on everyone. The nature of the office prankster too is wonderfully imagined. Part 2 is Bell casting back into his childhood and is perhaps the part that didn't work for me. Not because it wasn't beautifully rendered within a wholly believable psychology, but because it stuck out from the flow of the rest of the book through being an extended flashback. yes it helps inform some of the later book, but not significantly enough to merit being here I felt.Part 3 sees the beginning of a purposeful road trip with 3 companions, that slides over into a vanity project for Bell as he stops off on route to shoot a personal film other than the one on the Navajo Indians he is supposed to be doing. This was an interesting extended metaphor, as the film is to stand for Bell's own interiority, but is utterly abstract where he is grappling to pin his own gnawing hollowness down. The aimlessness of the characters from the Mid-West town he employs to act out his words in the script only reinforces his agonising distance from nailing his own psyche down on celluloid.Part 4 is a truly aimless road trip towards Texas, as Bell has sacrificed everything now. His friends are returning to New England. He has foregone the navajo assignment and surrendered his job back East. This section seemed to be framing the state of the nation emerging from the 60s, with Hippy casualties still clinging to alternative lifestyles.So not entirely convincing, but serving notice of Delillo's huge talents that were fully realised in later novels.

Paul

All of DeLillo's major themes are here: Fear of death, power of the image (image vs. reality), society vs. the individual. His signature style is here as well; pretty amazing that he nailed it in his first go-round. That said, it feels a bit like he was trying to get everything in, as if this might be his last chance to say it. Most sentences shine in typical DeLillo fashion, but more than a few fall slightly flat; if you're familiar enough with his work you'll catch 'em. Also, things tend to drag a bit when he goes off on his abstract, stylistic musings on philosophy and what have you. Parts one and two are fantastic, and the end is great. DeLillo is at his most (seemingly) personal and (possibly) autobiographical in Part II, which is a full-on flashback to the narrator's childhood. Most of the BS is disposed of, and we get, as mentioned, an uncharacteristically warm, sincere, personal, and emotional DeLillo. This would read as an excellent novella, in fact. The novel is at its worst when the characters are on the road, which is admittedly infrequent. It reads like Harrison's "A Good Day to Die," or a really bad "On the Road," but again this makes up maybe ten percent of the book, despite people calling this a "road novel." Anyway, a pretty good intro to DeLillo, though unfortunately far from flawless. Up front, it seems as if this might be his best novel, though it's not to be. Thankfully he kept at it, though.

Kaitlin

White Noise is one of my favorites. This didn't do it for me. It's dated and was almost painful to read; all the characters are self-absorbed and one-sided. It's written almost as stream of consciousness, but grates because it's trying too hard to prove something.I am planning to read Libra soon because the concept is just too interesting. I wish I'd passed on this one though.

Titus Burley

Americana is a brilliant book - akin in its imagery rich rants to Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. It is experimental satire of high order; a book written in a more blessed time when a major publisher would risk printing a first novel that follows none of the predictable maxims of storytelling. It is a novel without villain unless that villain is at times the narrator, David Bell, himself. Bell in essence goes on a physical cross-country quest to remedy a growing disenchantment with his world and relationships. Using a film project as his medium, he approaches the riddle of his own life and broken marriage through third person usage of art. The meandering, often plotless seeming, portions of the novel are its greatest strength. The long imagery laden paragraphs that often stretch for pages and read more like free form poetry than action driven narrative are stunningly revelatory in capturing the changing moral landscape of America in the late 60's. It's an important novel, but unfortunately one unlikely to be read with any frequency in today's suspense/thriller James Patterson/Dan Brown world. It is one that I allowed myself time to read slowly and contemplate; and one I will likely read again.

Jon

To those in search of origins, their own, or Delillo's, this is undoubtedly an interesting read. As Delillo's first novel, and most obvious attempt at the great American novel, it falls prey to many "first novel mistakes." It is clever, sharp and keenly insightful, but it is disjointed, winding and flabby.

Vincent Louis

Exquisite. Prescient. An incredible debut from the best living American novelist. Like Mad Men's Don Draper, DeLillo's David Bell doesn't know who he is, and like Draper he is largely a fiction to himself and the world (though not as ostensibly as Draper). His journey of discovery tears him down while holding a mirror up to ourselves, our culture. The whole novel, for me, was a prequel to a single anecdotal story related by a secondary character (Sullivan) toward the end. What a writer DeLillo is. He is nothing shy of a genius. No detail escapes him. The story drags a bit in the second act, but I didn't care. I already know who I'm dealing with. DeLillo will reward me. I can't believe I save this for last. Read it. Read it. Read everything the man writes. And for the record, nobody writes about baseball like Don DeLillo.

Josh Luft

If Don Delillo didn't arrive fully-formed, he was pretty damn close. His debut novel, Americana, has many of the themes Delillo has tackled throughout his amazing oeuvre--like contemporary American life, death, film, war--in the narrative of David Bell, a network television programmer who abandons his job while traveling west to make his own, semi-autobiographical, experimental film. Whether or not it's true, Americana seems semi-autobiographical of Delillo--potentially mirroring Bell's film. At least in the first part of the book, which focuses on Bell's life at the network television office, which I imagine could have been quite similar to Delillo's early office life at an advertising agency. In addition to the themes, Delillo's signature stylized dialogue is also on display. While the book is ragged in places--Delillo himself edited the book in 1989 before its reprint--it has his singular prose and energy. I'm glad the novel was published in 1971, when authors like Delillo could have several books to develop. Had Americana been published today, I'd like to think it would still amass a following. But would a publishing house today allow him the time and money he received then to hone his craft, to write the six novels after Americana that led to his first masterpiece, White Noise? I doubt it. Times change. Americana captures that idea.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *