Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 17 (2/20) -- Point Omega by Don DeLillo

I used to be a big DeLillo fan -- I really should re-read White Noise one of these days, or maybe Libra -- but it's been hard to sustain my enthusiasm over the past decade. I was not as fond of Underworld as some readers -- I found it overlong and of diminishing interest, like a slowly draining bathtub -- and nobody could much like Cosmopolis or The Body Artist. (I still haven't read Falling Man; maybe that's better.)

Point Omega is another one of DeLillo's very short novels; it's even shorter than Cosmo or TBA, and has less closure. A thirty-ish filmmaker, Jim Finley, is visiting septuagenarian Richard Elster, some kind of professor who, in an unlikely way, became part of the Pentagon brain-trust that drove the nation into the Iraq war. Finley has come to Elster's remote California desert cabin in hopes of getting Elster to agree to talk on-camera; Finley wants to make a long, single-take movie of Elster talking about the war and his part in it, though Elster hasn't given him much encouragement. (Though neither DeLillo or Finley ever mention or even obliquely refer to it, Errol Morris's The Fog of War, a documentary about Robert McNamara and war, is the spectre that stalks this project.)

Finley and Elster have some very DeLillo-esque dialogues, but they can't sustain the story very long. So DeLillo carts in Elster's nubile mid-twenties daughter Jessie, but then doesn't develop much tension with her, either.

And then something happens, though we never find out precisely what it was that happens, and Finley and Elster are left to deal with it. There's also a frame story that almost explains things, but not quite; the last section really just serves to let DeLillo say to the reader "That thing you thought I meant? Yes, I did mean it."

One reads Point Omega to spend some time -- something under two hours, unless you're a particularly fast or slow reader -- with DeLillo's prose, which is still worth reading. It's a shame that it's serving this tepid and dull story, though.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Le Reno Amps - Once You Know
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment