Appreciating Don DeLillo

The Moral Force of a Writer's Work

by Paul Giaimo


The recipients of numerous awards, from the Jerusalem Award to the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Don DeLillo's works are read by millions worldwide. They are also widely acclaimed as among the best and most informative popular American literature on the market today. What lies beneath the surface of these novels?

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July 2011


Pages 188
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General
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An insightful work providing state-of-the-art critical guidance and informative commentary on the major novels of Don DeLillo in terms of how they respond to current social and ethical issues.

Unlike the majority of American academic critics, author Paul Giaimo contends that Don DeLillo's award-winning novels are fully defined by neither postmodernism nor modernism. To demonstrate this thesis, Appreciating Don DeLillo: The Moral Force of a Writer's Work traces DeLillo's style through his novels, showing how it evolved from a recognizably postmodern mode into a realistic treatment of contemporary, postmodern conditions.

In this original and nuanced examination, Giaimo discusses themes that range from the devastating portrayals of evil in Mao II, Libra and Cosmopolis, to the good and inspiring confrontation of media stereotypes and urban missionary work in Underworld. The powerful vision of language in The Names and White Noise is examined as a potent moral force of the novels. Equally important is discussion of the cultural background Giaimo believes should inform any reading of DeLillo's work, especially his Italian-American ethnic heritage and the American Catholic church of the 1950s.


  • Summarizes and analyzes 16 major novels of DeLillo, providing the reader with a comprehensive overview of plot and character
  • Outlines a broad range of DeLillo's diverse literary and artistic sources including T.S. Eliot, Zbigniew Herbert, and Hieronymus Bosch
  • Expands and corrects dominant critical views of DeLillo as a postmodernist by revealing the influence of urban American realist Nelson Algren
  • Examines impact of contemporary Catholic contemporary social theology, including the writings of Thomas Merton
  • Provides the most extensive treatment of Italian American cultural themes in DeLillo's work currently in print, discussing such influence in five novels
Author Info

Paul GIaimo is Instructor of English and philosophy at Highland Community College, Freeport, IL. He has written articles on Don DeLillo and in the field of Italian-American Studies, and in other journals such as Voices in Italian Americana and MELUS. He has also published entries in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature.



"Offering an alternative perspective on DeLillo's work, Giaimo raises interesting questions about how best to define DeLillo's novels. . . . Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice

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