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&quot;Americans persue loneliness in various ways. For me Great Jones Street was a time of prayerful fatigue. I became a half-saint, practiced in visions, informed by a sense of bodily economy, but deficient in true pain.&quot;
- Don DeLillo, Great Jones Street
A good DeLillo, just not a great one. I read this on a flight from SF to Phoenix. While there were parts of it that I loved (again and again DeLillo can throw out a sentence that seems almost electric; a prose version of a perpetual motion machine), he also tried several experiments with this novel that seemed wasted, or perhaps foul balls. Let me list a few:
1. Lyrics - Please GOD don't inspire any future prose writers to suddenly want to fill their novels with lyrics. I understand that this is tempting, especially when writing about a rock legend. However, writing the lyrics of a famous, god-like, rock star is HARDER than writing a good sex scene. That wire is a tricky, slick one to walk.
2. Sex - DeLillo isn't bad at writing sex scenes, but he's not particularly great.
3. The Ending - a real whimper. I'm not sure the book ever was skipping at 4stars or 5, but the ending definitely didn't raise it up in my estimation. If I were to drop this book next to its peers by DeLillo, it would fit closer to 'Point Omega', 'Cosmopolis', and 'The Body Artist' than his great books. And these are all good books, but none great are GREAT DeLillo.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful
Early DeLillo novels truck awe equal to his later and sometimes larger masterpieces. The dynamics of pacing and the hypnotic fluency common to all his novels are here. Early DeLillo's humor is sharper, sometimes bleaker, and may verge on absurd slapstick ("New York, New York! New York, New York!"). Perhaps still free of the coprolithic burden of his ever-growing celebrity, DeLillo's sentences are pure here. He builds pyramids of stars. Each sentence is an unstable isotope, a radiating fury in his listener's or reader's minds. Like Bucky, you will be changed by progress through this book, though none of us will be able to describe precisely how. Great Jones Street is a virtuoso performance. Sure it's a rock-and-roll satire...in the same way Look Homeward Angel is about trains. Not among the later serious novels, it's still a beaut! Jacques Roy offers a top-rate reading of it, dexterous in mingling the monotonic, lost Bucky with the surreal observant central intelligence behind Bucky as narrator, equal to the idiosyncrasies of each minor voice, and perfectly rounding the overall tone of the book. Five by five by five.