Friday, February 12, 2010

Don DeLillo at Book Court

Last night, CSD favorite Don DeLillo read from his new novel Point Omega at Book Court, in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. After reading so many of his books, it was a bit of a context shock to see him in person - all of his sentences seem so carefully considered on the page that it was odd to hear him answering questions off the cuff. The crowd was easily a couple of hundred people, spilling over from Book Court's main room and into the smaller entrance room; apparently there were dozens of people around the corner who could hear his voice, but couldn't see him in person. Inevitably, the place was crowded with Bookworm Hipster Douchebags, but there were also a few prominent members of the brownstone Brooklyn intelligencia - Paul Giamatti was there, and I'm sure there were a number of other writers and actors I didn't recognize. The event was a lot of fun, and, from what he read of it, Point Omega seems to be in keeping with the abstract, apocalyptic, vaguely Samuel Beckettish prose style he has used for his past several books. He signed books for a long time afterwards. The guy in front of me claimed to have come down from Newfoundland to see DeLillo in person. DeLillo is so popular with Generation X writers (David Foster Wallace, Joshua Ferris, Jonathan Lethem, Zadie Smith, etc. have all spoken of his as being a major influence) that its easy to forget he's in his mid-70's and has been publishing for 40 years. He is thin and has a wavery voice that makes everything that he says sound wise and earnest. He spoke about his writing, and about what inspired him to write certain books of his, but, thankfully, dodged the academic, big picture, "where do you think American culture is headed?" style questions. The reading gave me insight into DeLillo, but not so much that I felt I could 'see the strings' behind his writings. Seeing so many people crammed into an independent bookstore to see a great writer like DeLillo at 7pm on a weeknight made me feel good about . . . well, about a lot of things. It was just a great event.

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