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Rewiring the RealIn Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo$
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Mark Taylor

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160414

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160414.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

“Holy Shit!”

“Holy Shit!”

Don DeLillo, Underworld

(p.156) 4 “Holy Shit!”
Rewiring the Real

Mark C. Taylor

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents a reading of Don DeLillo's Underworld (1997). The novel is one of the richest explorations of the complexities and contradictions of life during the latter half of the twentieth century that has been written in fiction or nonfiction. DeLillo connects without integrating the abstract and concrete, global and local, public and private, material and immaterial, planned and random, conspiracy and coincidence. Rather than a single narrative drawing together characters and events, Underworld tracks countless trails that unfold, intertwine, and unravel between October 3, 1951, the day the Giants and the Dodgers played the epic third game to determine the National League pennant race—and the day the Soviet Union conducted a nuclear test that is commonly considered to mark the beginning of the Cold War—and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Most commentators read DeLillo's novel as an allegory of the way the Cold War shaped American life for more than four decades. From this point of view, the decisive game between the Giants and Dodgers represents the deadly game between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, whose outcome depended on stealing signals other than those the catcher sends the pitcher. However, this interpretation is incomplete and hardly does justice to either the breadth or the depth of DeLillo's analysis.

Keywords:   Giants, Dodgers, Soviet Union, Cold War, American life, Don DeLillo

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