Review of Don DeLillo’s ‘Zero K’

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Don DeLillo’s deep freeze: ‘Zero K’ takes on death, futurists and cryonics

In Don DeLillo’s new novel, “Zero K,” words have come unattached from the things they mean. The title indicates the temperature zero Kelvin, best known as absolute zero. But in the story, Zero K is an elite level of cryogenics, and even the scientists who work there admit it’s not actually part of the process.

That’s only the beginning. Our thirtysomething protagonist Jeff doesn’t meet people so much as observe and define them. “I named them the Stenmark twins. They were the Stenmark twins,” he decides about a pair of artist-futurists, never learning their actual names. But even then his designation is unsettled; they are, he concludes, “Jan and Lars, or Nils and Sven.” When young, Jeff would challenge himself to define a word, chasing it down through the dictionary: Fishwife to shrew to shrewmouse to insectivorousto vorous. He hasn’t given this up, and his attempts to find definitions lead to words and more words, while the real object remains far from reach.

This gap between the word and the thing, the signifier and the signified, is appropriate for DeLillo, one of the masters of postmodern literature. “White Noise,” which won the 1985 National Book Award, is a darkly humorous classic of alienation, doublespeak and suburban life.

Read further @ Los Angeles Times

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~ by eneryvibes on 1,June 9, 2016.

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