Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: "Great Jones Street" by Don DeLillo

I always assumed that the books Don DeLillo published before he became world famous with White Noise would be different than the books he published afterward. I noticed a distinct difference in plot details between the books from each period. While his books post-White Noise covered heady topics such as the JFK assassination (Libra) and the 9/11 attacks (Falling Man), his early books seemed like they were more fun, with topics such as football (End Zone, code-breaking (Ratner’s Star) and the book I just read, Great Jones Street, which is equal parts rock n’roll, hard drugs and secret hippie societies hell bent on control of the country. For the most part I was right, since this book is probably the most fun I have had reading one of his books as well as being the one where I felt the most for what was going on. While I found his bigger books, such as Underworld, Libra and White Noise enriching, I found them too dense and too analytical. This book touches its toes in those waters, but the story is grounded in an emotional core his other books are lacking. At the beginning of the book, Bucky Wunderlick, a famous musician, is hold up in an apartment in the aforementioned street, hiding from the public with a sample of a new drug that is quite potent and sought after. He interacts with his manager, a few hanger-ons such as the whipping boy Hanes, and gets a visit from his girlfriend Opel, all while trying to sell off his sample of the drug to the Happy Valley Farm Commune, a group of terrorists. While this plot get convoluted, especially towards the end, I found the other tenants in his apartment, such as a failed writer and a mother of a severely retarded child to be much more fun to read about. The banter between them and Bucky gives the book its heart. If you are like me, and found DeLillo’s other books a bit droll and heavy, I’d suggest seeking this out however you can. 

Rating: 4/5

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