I never got to write properly about Don DeLillo’s Underworld, a book which took up a significant part of my reading year. There’s a couple of posts about the reading in progress. I want to add to them this paragraph I wrote in the reading list I keep in Excel. It might not make sense, but it might mean something to people who’ve read it.
The narrative is a kind of archaeology, winding backwards, not in a linear way, but ending finally with the beginning, the shot that was heard through Nick Shay’s world when he accidentally shot his friend George. When we met Nick in the nineties, we don’t even learn directly that he did this, we just get a few hints that something happened. But as we get further back, closer and closer to the event itself, it becomes louder. The connections are fascinating and there are so many I must have missed. But at the beginning, Nick is going to meet Klara Sax, an artist reworking old bombers. The bomber she works on is the same one we see in action during the Vietnam War toward the end of the book. At that point, one of the crew remembers the baseball his father bought for him, the gameball from the famous game with which the narrative starts. This same ball is now in the hands of Nick Shay. Other connections are less literal; J. Edgar Hoover is one of the characters; Sister Edgar another. Their parallel lives in Cold War America are contrasted by their same name.