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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mao II (1991) by Don Delillo

Image result for mao II painting
Mao II print by Andy Warhol
Book Review
Mao II (1991)
by Don Delillo

  Before author Don Delillo entered into his brick-production period, he could write nimble little novels, and less nimble novels that were none the less under 300 pages.  Mao II, his tenth novel, shows him on the way to his "high Delillo" period of 100 page opening chapter set pieces set in baseball stadiums (Mao II opens with a Moonie "mass wedding" taking place in Yankee Stadium.");  but still not quite at the stage where his books are over 500 pages.

  Reclusive novelist Bill Gray is the center of Mao II.  Gray resembles a combination of J.D. Salinger (exclusiveness) and Ernest Hemingway (life style choices.)  Gray has been trying to finish his most recent book for decades, and his assistant, Scott, is worried because of what the completion and publication of his book will mean for their relationship, which can basically be expressed using the term "co dependency."

  After one hundred and fifty pages of hand wringing and existential angst, Gray gets roped into attempting to rescue a poet from a Marxist group of Lebanese rebels.   That's about it for the action.  Like many Delillo novels, it is the themes that the characters harp on in their quiet moments that provide the most lasting, memorable, moments.  Here, the effective theme is his prescient forecasting of a forthcoming "age of terror."  Spot on, that one. Good call.

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