Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RUNNING DOG by Don DeLillo

This book is good, very good. I admire the way DeLillo uses the classic 'Macguffin' device--the search for the film made in Hitler's bunker--as a structural backbone on which to hang a wide variety of characters and situations. The quest plot for this ultimately disappointing Maltese Falcon-like object (and a parallel quest for a human 'subject') provides the glue that binds DeLillo's American mosaic, his panorama that takes in senators, pormographers, mafiosi, NYPD cops, a hooker with a heart of brass, spies, compromised 60's radicals, etc., etc. It's a marvelously rich novel of ideas (about technology and its effect on human beings, the systematization of life, the terroristic side of capitalism, the paranoia of ordinary life, etc.) that feels and moves like a thriller. In a way, it reads like a more intellectual, East Coast equivalent of Robert Stone's great 1970's West Coast novel, Dog Soldiers.

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