Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: "Libra" by Don DeLillo

From the past few books that I read by Don DeLillo, which have been few and far between, I haven’t been the biggest fan. At his worst he is boring, and at his best, he is smart and full of ideas but never put any passion into his books. Now with Libra, a book with many flaws, he does that, producing a book that I enjoyed for the most part. Like his other book, it is big on ideas, but also big on character, with this being the first novel that I have read of his that actually has a full-fledge character at it’s center. I have never been much for conspiracy theories, as evidenced by my thoughts of James Ellroy’s Underworld U. S. A. trilogy (which was inspired by this, and Ellroy’s trilogy shares a name with DeLillio’s most well-known novel, although that is just a coincidence), DeLillo never forces it on you. You never feel like you are reading what really happened, it is just a cool idea that might offer some perspective on a history-changing event. That even is the assassination of JFK by Lee Harvey Oswald. Through alternating chapters, we get a glimpse into the harsh life of Oswald from early boyhood to that fateful day, as well as the people behind the scenes, who orchestrate a plot that quickly gets way out of hand. Those sections of the novel feel too much like Ellroy’s books, and have the same problems with faceless characters being too prevalent. What really made this book special was the Oswald sections, where we see not the monster who violently rewrote history, but a sad person whose constant rejection by society led him to make a deal that would not only take his life, but etch his name as one of the most disturbing historical figures in American history. Not the best book I will read this year, but one that will make me want to read another DeLillio novel sooner than later.

Rating: 4/5

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