This list ranking Don DeLillo’s novels into categories ranging from “Classic” to “Avoid” from 2007 excludes his two most recent novels, but if you have little exposure to the author, it’s a good place to start.
White Noise. DeLillo’s breakthrough success, arguably still his quintessential masterpiece, and the funniest and most sustained example of his talent. Jack Gladney, professor of Hitler Studies, struggles with information overload, simulated disasters, an “airborne toxic event,” the most photographed barn in America, and a drug that neutralizes the fear of death. If you’re going to like DeLillo, this is the book that will make it happen.
Confession: aside from attempting to tackle Underworld1 more than 10 years ago, I have not read any DeLillo. I should probably fix that? (via @davidgrann)
The Ransom Center at the University of Texas has acquired the archives of David Foster Wallace, joining those of Don DeLillio and Norman Mailer.
The archive contains manuscript materials for Wallace’s books, stories and essays; research materials; Wallace’s college and graduate school writings; juvenilia, including poems, stories and letters; teaching materials and books.
Highlights include handwritten notes and drafts of his critically acclaimed “Infinite Jest,” the earliest appearance of his signature “David Foster Wallace” on “Viking Poem,” written when he was six or seven years old, a copy of his dictionary with words circled throughout and his heavily annotated books by Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and more than 40 other authors.
Materials for Wallace’s posthumous novel “The Pale King” are included in the archive but will remain with Little, Brown and Company until the book’s publication, scheduled for April 2011.
The web site currently contains some tantalizing examples of what the archive will eventually hold, including the first page of a handwritten draft of Infinite Jest, his annotated dictionary — circled words included benthos, exergue, hypocorism, mendacious, rebus, and witenagemot — and some heavily annotated books he owned, including his copy of Players by DeLillo.
This is really exciting and sad all at once. (thx, matt)