Don DeLillo has been "wierdly prophetic about twenty-first-century America" (The New York Times Book Review). In his earlier novels, he has written about conspiracy theory, the Cold War and global terrorism. Now, in Point Omega, he looks into the mind and heart of a "defense intellectual," one of the men involved in the management of the country's war machine.
Richard Elster was a scholar an outsider when he was called to a meeting with government war planners, asked to apply "ideas and principles to such matters as troop deployment and counterinsurgency."
We see Elster at the end of his service. He has retreated to the desert, "somewhere south of nowhere," in search of space and geologic time. There he is joined by a filmmaker, Jim Finley, intent on documenting his experience. Finley wants to persuade Elster to make a one-take film, Elster its single character "Just a man and a wall."
Weeks later, Elster's daughter Jessica visits an "otherworldly" woman from New York, who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. The three of them talk, train their binoculars on the landscape and build an odd, tender intimacy, something like a family. Then a devastating event throws everything into question.
In this compact and powerful novel, it is finally a lingering human mystery that haunts the landscape of desert and mind.
This is an aerated novel that wants to be a condensed, stylized short story, or maybe even a play... It is a novel that is supposed to be finished in the reader's head, completed by all the connections the reader finds between the long aftershocks of Bush's war on terror and the modern-day obsession with images and information flickering across screens large and small... I do wish it were longer - that is, I wish DeLillo had more omnivorously taken in the contemporary moment and fed it into the gears of his literary intelligence, because his spare rooms and stark screens are too concept-driven, too slight for the monumentality of his observations... But I will take what I can get from the master. (Reviewed by Amy Reading).
New York Magazine
As a raging DeLillo fan, I’d be more excited to see him branch out to another genre—an experimental autobiography, or essayistic micro-observations of his favorite art and literature—than write another short novel about detached and largely interchangeable characters.
Los Angeles Times
[A] splendid, fierce novel by a deep practitioner of the form... it has been enlivening, challenging, harrowing and beautiful to imagine Point Omega, an experience I heartily recommend.
Reading [Point Omega] is akin to a brisk hike up a desert mountain—a trifle arid, perhaps, but with occasional views of breathtaking grandeur. There is no room for false steps, and even the sure-footed will want to double back now and then to check for signs they might have missed along the way.
Starred Review. Though it be but brief, DeLillo's latest offering is fierce. An excellent nugget of thought-provoking fiction that pits life against art and emotion against intellect.
Starred Review. An icy, disturbing and masterfully composed study of guilt, loss and regret-quite possibly the author's finest yet.
The Omega Point
What does Don DeLillo share with Marilyn Manson and Dilbert?
Answer: An interest in the omega point, a theory developed by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his book The Phenomenon of Man, which was written in 1938 but was so contested by the Catholic church that it wasn't published until just after his death in 1955.
Teilhard was both a Jesuit priest and a paleontologist, so right there you can begin to sense the tensions within his work. He applied the theory of evolution to a larger understanding of the forward momentum, the perfectability of the cosmos, and The Phenomenon of Man sought to account for the central role of human consciousness in the accomplishment of spiritual transcendence.
Drawing from his awe at the vastness in time and space from which human consciousness has arisen, Teilhard projected a future point toward which we are aimed. This he named the omega point, the point at which the stunning complexity and self-referentiality of human knowledge...
Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. An indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
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