Not Exactly What I Wanted to Say about Don DeLillo but Almost

Illocutions

DeLillo has always been the most treacherous member of that Golden Generation of male American writers born in the 1930s. (Heartiest sympathies go out to Messrs Gass and Gaddis for being born a decade too soon.) Harold Bloom once made a presciently Wikipedia-friendly knighting of four of these gentlemen – DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon and Philip Roth – as the greatest American novelists of his lifetime, and however one feels about old Bloomosaurus rex his methodology does have some taxonomic advantage.

All four novelists are, in their own ways, self-conscious stylists. They all were lucky enough to come of age at a time when the living, omnipresent memento mori of nuclear annihilation – ah, halcyon days! – must have been to writer’s block as the scythe is to the corn. Providence smiled on them enough to show a middle way through the Red Sea of postmodernism, whose more interesting affectations they carried…

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