It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity. Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed. What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human.
What happens when our technology suddenly abandons us? In this novella, DeLillo explores the immediate consequences of such an event. It’s a brief exploration, though. We don’t get to go too far into the story. The book ends abruptly, and we’re left stranded there, pondering and wondering. I imagine this is intentional. Upon reflection, I concede the author’s goal is achieved, but I have to say, my immediate feeling is unfinished work.
The writing meets DeLillo’s high standards. If you’ve read him before, you’ll recognize his peculiar style at first sight. The idea is also good, albeit not super-original.
I found The Silence to be good, but not as good as I expected. After reading Underworld, the bar is set pretty damn high. Anything from DeLillo should pertain to the mind-boggling department. This novel fits more in the ok department. It could serve as a great, gentle introduction to DeLillo, though, as his other works can indeed be intimidating.