Our lives, our half-century
Nick Shay and Klara Sax knew each other once, intimately, and they meet
again in the American desert. He is trying to outdistance the crucial events of
his early life, haunted by the hard logic of loss and by the echo of a gunshot
in a basement room. She is an artist who has made a blood-struggle for
Don DeLillo’s mesmerizing novel opens with a legendary baseball game
played in New York in 1951. The glorious outcome—the home run that wins the
game is called the Shot Heard Round the World—shades into the grim news that
the Soviet Union has just tested an atomic bomb.
The baseball itself, fought over and scuffed, generates the narrative
that follows. It takes the reader deep into the lives of Nick and Klara and
into modern memory and the soul of American culture—from Bronx tenements to
grand ballrooms to a B-52 bombing raid over Vietnam.
A generation’s master spirits come and go: Lenny Bruce cracking
desperate jokes, Mick Jagger with his devil strut, J. Edgar Hoover in a sexy
leather mask. And flashing in the margins of ordinary life are the curiously
connected materials of the culture. Condoms, bombs, Chevy Bel Airs, and miracle
sites on the Web.
Underworld is a story of
men and women together and apart, seen in deep, clear detail and in
stadium-sized panoramas, shadowed throughout by the overarching conflict of the
Cold War. It is a novel that accepts every challenge of these extraordinary
times—Don DeLillo’s greatest and most powerful work of fiction.
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