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Yang Safia On Monday, April 2, 2012

I had to read this novel for my American Contemporary class last year. White Noise is not typically a book I would pick up but after reading it, I have to say it affected me in more ways that I realize. I've never heard of Delillo before until I had to study him but he is considered one of America's greats. I'm not a fan of Contemporary American literature because it is simply...out there. I believe Contemporary American literature deals a lot with modern themes and ideas that can be creepy and just down disturbing at times. I did not enjoy the class but out of all the novels that I had to read, White Noise is, I can't believe I'm saying this, great. 


(Taken from

A brilliant satire of mass culture and numbing effects of technology,White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, a teacher of Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Middle America. Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, bound by their love, fear of death, and four ultramodern offspring, navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. Then a lethal black chemical cloud, unleashed by an industrial accident, floats over their lives, an "airborne toxic event" that is a more urgent and visible version of the white noise engulfing the Gladneys--the radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, and TV murmurings that constitute the music of American magic and dread.


I personally think that the plot is nothing special. In fact it's quite mundane and boring. Like I said, if I see this book at a bookstore I will NOT pick it up. But I don't know what magic Delillo has, maybe that's why he's considered a great American author, but this book will just slowly creep into your subconscious without you realizing. I guess Delillo is trying to illustrate the effects of media and technology on us. We see it everyday and the ideas that are presented slowly seep into our subconscious thus change our perception toward things. To be able to create this effect in one's writing is extremely hard to do but Delillo did it effortlessly. 

So what is White Noise really about?

The book is basically about death and the paranoia that comes with it. I have never seen such paranoid characters in my life. The ascending paranoia that occurs in the novel is palpable and while you might think these characters are crazy and there is no way you will get caught up with this mess, think again. I finished the book and to this day, my perception towards death changed. The main character, Gladney thinks about death so much that you can't help but think about it too. 

Personally I never thought about death or being dead. I know it will happen but I never bothered to really surround my thoughts with such idea. I believe in living my life and in some way, prepared for death, with no regrets. I never thought about being scared of death. I don't think the what ifs of my last day on Earth. What will I do? Who will I spend it with? I mean not to such details. But White Noise made me think of these things. I still think about it even today. 

I find myself freaked out at the prospects of dying.

White Noise seriously screws you up. 

The Verdict:

3 out of 5

By standards, this means that I like the novel. Which in some ways I do. I like it for the fact that it manages to affect me in such ways. I like the ability of the author to affect people's mental state with just a non-interactive medium. 

On an entertainment level, this novel is boring and might not be for everyone. I know many people who couldn't even bother to finish the book.  White Noise is definitely for you if you're looking for a different perspective on mortality or just planning to get creeped out. My best advice is to just go through the book without any judgements and bear with the mundane aspects of the plot and let your mind get screwed over.