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This first collection from DeLillo (White Noise) gathers stories published in various literary magazines over the last three decades. What's immediately clear is how consistent his voice has been throughout his career. "Human Moments in World War III" stands out, describing two crew members on a spacecraft orbiting Earth both to monitor and to help the human species destroy itself. With the grim precision of a surgeon, De-Lillo describes the phases of the narrators' psyches during this mission, creating a metaphor for modern life. The settings of all nine stories confront both the exotic and the mundane, with two following unemployed characters on the streets of New York City. There is also a topical story on the financial meltdown from inside a white-collar crime prison. VERDICT For readers of literary fiction, this book is a good introduction to DeLillo's iconic postmodern style, though those new to the genre may find it a somewhat hard pill to swallow. DeLillo fans will appreciate the fix before his next novel and seeing the various themes he's touched on over the years.-Kate Gray, New York (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The nine short stories of DeLillo's first-ever collection span 30 years. Grouped around three historical moments and ranging in subject and setting from an earthquake in Athens to a snowbound college town, they offer both a compact way to observe the evolution of DeLillo's writing and a highly palatable entree into the work of the National Book Award winner (for White Noise) for the uninitiated. "Human Moments in World War III" features two Americans manning an orbital intelligence-gathering craft who begin receiving old-time radio signals while considering humanity at war; "war, among other things, is a form of longing." In the title story, two nuns in the South Bronx encounter the near-feral Esmeralda Lopez, who, for a brief time, is transfigured into a rallying symbol for the impoverished community. And in "Hammer and Sickle," a white-collar criminal in a minimum-security facility watches his two young daughters deliver financial news on a children's program. DeLillo's keen interest in the human experience of American historical and cultural moments is on clear display, and his full expressive range-from steady spareness (sometimes verging on disorienting frigidity) to roguish attitude and tender intimacy-is showcased well. While there aren't any surprises, this is a welcome addition to DeLillo's oeuvre for fans and newcomers alike. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* After 15 reverberating novels, DeLillo, winner of the National Book Award and the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize, to name but two of his honors, assembles his first short story collection. In tales dating from 1979 to 2011, DeLillo is prescient and timeless, commanding and sensitive. A recurring motif involves individuals ensnared in mysterious dialectics. Two students at an isolated college become obsessed with a stranger. Two men orbit the earth in Human Moments in World War III. gazing down at a planet besieged by desertification, violent storms, and war. A man in a prison for white-collar felons watches his young daughters on television delivering edgy stock-market reports in a brilliantly topsy-turvy take on global financial crises. An elegant tale about an earthquake raises urgent questions about how one lives gracefully on shifting ground. The title story is a masterpiece. Set in the graffiti-covered ruins of the South Bronx, it tells the wrenching tale of two nuns, a feral girl, a murder, and the profound hunger for a miracle. In each trenchant tale, DeLillo shows us that we are made of stories and that our quest for anchorage in safe harbors is a grand illusion. This towering collection builds in the mind like a mighty cumulonimbus lit by lightning flashes and scored with thunder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A signal writer, DeLillo always makes news, and this prophetic first will be of unique interest.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist