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Don DeLillo and the Myth of the Author–Recluse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2000

JOE MORAN
Affiliation:
School of Media, Critical, and Creative Arts, Liverpool John Moores University, Dean Walters Building, St James Road, Liverpool L1 7BR.

Abstract

The subtly entrapping nature of celebrity has been a common theme of Don DeLillo's work since his third novel, Great Jones Street (1973), narrated by a twenty-six-year-old rock star, Bucky Wunderlick, who tires of fame in the middle of a national tour and goes to ground in a seedy New York bedsitter. This theme, however, finds its fullest expression in DeLillo's 1991 novel Mao II, where it is linked to a specific concern which may be closer to home for him – the paradoxical fascination with author–recluses in American celebrity culture. DeLillo, who came to reluctant terms with major league celebrity from the mid-1980s onwards after a long period of respectful reviews and polite notices, has praised reclusive authors for “refusing to become part of the all-incorporating treadmill of consumption and disposal,” in spite of the “automatic mechanism” of the media which tries “to absorb certain such reluctant entities into the weave.” Mao II is about what happens when this absorption takes place, and whether or not this wholly devalues the author's own tactics of silence and renunciation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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