White Noise

  • Colin Lewis
    • Book Reviews
    • Don Delillo
    • Penguin Classics, 2009
    • ISBN 978-0143105985

In New York City, I sat alone in a dark room and started this book and who knows what I felt except that it was cold at night for summer. F— met me the next day in the park. She said, “I want you back in my life but I’m not sure how.” She didn’t say more. Some things are never written or spoken and still everyone understands. They’re all about us, trembling in the air.

We didn’t meet again. I read more on the subway, and the flight, and when the plane landed I felt the southern hum of heat and traffic and cicada drone. K— said, “Is it really you? Can I read that when you’re done?”

White Noise contains its own drone, the dangerous buzz of technology run awry. It is prophetic, written in 1985, and like most prophecies it is far darker than the future it concerns. The writing is full of grace and dotted with fragile moments that might be funny, though after a couple weeks when they shimmer and disappear you may wonder if they were oases or mirage. On the last day K—— said, “Are you finished?” and I wasn’t, not yet. I’m still not. It’s too hot for an airborne toxic event. There’s a threat out there but I don’t believe in it.

But she was not happy with her hips and thighs, walked at a rapid clip, ran up the stadium steps at the neoclassical high school. She said I made virtues of her flaws because it was my nature to shelter loved ones from the truth. Something lurked inside the truth, she said.

The smoke alarm went off in the hallway upstairs, either to let us know the battery had just died or because the house was on fire. We finished our lunch in silence.