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Roxanne Reviews "The Silence"

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Roxanne reviews The Silence by Don DeLillo.

Reincarnate Ernest Hemingway, shut him away for a month with all of our contemporary technology; cell phone, apps, Apple TV, in home theaters, and then give him a pen. The result might be a close facsimile to Don DeLillo’s newest novella The Silence.

The premise is a plane crash and power outage affecting at least the major Metro New York City area, disabling electrical power and with it, all gadgets with screens. The action centers on two couples and one of the wives’ former students who is now a professor of high intellect and a penchant for Einstein. Mix in a globalist perspective (one of the couple’s had just returned from France) and a Kaufmanesque fixation on trying to remember the details of life and you have classic DeLillo cynicism stew.

Besides the Hemingwayesque writer’s voice, there are also literary whiffs of Sartre’s No Exit with each of the five characters receiving his or her own monologue, Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street with the ‘out of the mouths of babe’ wisdom of the youngest Einstein expert. DeLillo himself uses an allusion to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake which prompted me to relisten to one of the most timeless 2020 moments when Jennifer Hudson sang a perfect rendition of For All We Know at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service.

DeLillo’s novella forces one to recognize we are part of the collective and the individual, and in my optimistic mind, a plea to recognize the preciousness of each other and the present moment rather than overanalyze.

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