The Names

The Names

by Don DeLillo


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Set against the backdrop of a lush and exotic Greece, The Names is considered the book which began to drive "sharply upward the size of his readership" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Among the cast of DeLillo's bizarre yet fully realized characters in The Names are Kathryn, the narrator's estranged wife; their son, the six-year-old novelist; Owen, the scientist; and the neurotic narrator obsessed with his own neuroses. A thriller, a mystery, and still a moving examination of family, loss, and the amorphous and magical potential of language itself, The Names stands with any of DeLillo's more recent and highly acclaimed works.

"The Names not only accurately reflects a portion of our contemporary world but, more importantly, creates an original world of its own."—Chicago Sun-Times

"DeLillo sifts experience through simultaneous grids of science and poetry, analysis and clear sight, to make a high-wire prose that is voluptuously stark."—Village Voice Literary Supplement

"DeLillo verbally examines every state of consciousness from eroticism to tourism, from the idea of America as conceived by the rest of the world to the idea of the rest of the world as conceived by America, from mysticism to fanaticism."—New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679722953
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1989
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 339
Sales rank: 391,757
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2012, DeLillo received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.


Westchester County, New York

Date of Birth:

November 20, 1936

Place of Birth:

New York City


Fordham University, 1958

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The Names 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If the number of reviews a book receives on this website is an indication of how widely read it is, then the fact that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has upwards of 1300 reviews, and Don Delillo's Names has none, seems to mark a tragic moment in American Literature. Don Delillo is one of the most unique and insightful voices of our times, yet to the general public, he is all but unknown. I've been a avid reader for years, but never even came across any Delillo until a friend from England turned me on to him. In every novel he has written, Delillo masterfulling weaves exciting plot lines with philosophical questions and commentary. He provides the reader with a strange window into the world. The Names deals with a range of topics from international affairs and the occult to divorce and sex, yet Delillo manages to paint a picture in which all of these issues are interconnected. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to experience real, amazing American literature, and has become weary of empty 'novels' from the likes of Brown.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sentences like photographs from Architectural Digest, or the repetitive scaffolding of a warehouse building. Characters cleaved of all fleshy exhuberance- hollow, accepting of hurt, modern, sophisticated. If the postmodern era signals the end of the Age of Revolutions (1776-1989), which is to say, if revolutions have been replaced with discourse (speech acts for molotov cocktails, political correctness for regime change, spare change for change), then 'postmodernism' might be defined as the talk about talk. The Names, then, is the talk about talk about talk. I think, maybe, The Names might be the best introduction to contemporary Western thought, from the conference on post-structuralism at Johns Hopkins to 9/11 (yes, roughly eighteen years after the novel was published.) The ostensible plot, a series of ritual murders by a language-obsessed cult, creates an engrossing, evenly paced heartbeat within the narrator's open-ended search for meaning and stability in his life. Based in Greece to be near his estranged spouse, a volunteer at an archeological dig, and his son, a sensitive and intelligent architect of information, James Axton travels to volatile countries in the Levant to assess risk data for an insurance company, a murky corporate enterprise some levels removed from the 'parent' company. In Greece he is surrounded by numb familiars, other expatriates and their spouses, who eat, drink, cheat and talk. A lot. The novel is in places intriguing like a pot-boiler, in other places intriguing for its sparkling rendition of the mundane, and always fascinating for its ideas, which never get too far above the plot or characters. The Names is as balanced and connected as any world Don Delillo could perceive or imagine. The 'go to' book for anyone interested in reading Don Delillo for the first time, or just a really memorable book you'll likely recommend to a friend and reread yourself someday in the future when a creeping headline from the newspaper reminds you of some stray paragraph or conversation in the novel and prompts you to retrieve the title from your shelf and start gladly again from page one.
nohablo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like looking into the face of God. What can you possibly say? How the hell do you describe the pieces? Describe the fit? It's a weird alchemy. Delillo's prose is (as always) weirdly flat-footed and purposefully awkward, but somehow, he cuts it in a way that's searing and prophetic and Old Testament and just gorgeous in its steady, matter-of-fact pacing. Reading THE NAMES is like reading the original template for the world. It's the Rosetta Stone for, y'know, civilization as we know it, NBD. Delillo has this insane, skull-pounding virtuoso talent for distilling into a single, effortless throw-away parenthetical observation a topic that's amassed an electron cloud of buzzing contradictory arguments and thoughts and pages and articles and column inches. And that talent is humbling and catastrophic and you turn the last page and it feels like a privilege. A grand unearned privilege to sit and bask in the interrogation-lamp brilliance of this book and watch Delillo just peel away skein after skein of, well, what DOESN'T this book cover? Of every layer of human interaction: love, affairs, children, terrorism, tourism, money, murder, marriage, death. All of it. Just atomized and scrutinized then blown away. For you. Jesus Christ, this was good good good.
the_white_bull More than 1 year ago
I haven't read this book, but I was curious about its fan reviews given my experience with 'White Noise' (brilliant novel). Then I read the post about Dan Brown and had to smile to myself. The frustrating thing about this site is 90 percent of the reviewers are casual readers. Someone read and then deigned to review 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy, only to pen a diatribe on what a disgusting novel it was and how it didn't add to the lexicon of great literary works at all. It was just...gross. Someone wrote of 'As I Lay Dying', ' "This is the most boring novel I of ever read,'" from which you can infer it may be the only novel they have ever read. In short, the very dummies novels like this one should attract are the very dummies who will never, ever read them. Celine and Thoreau both exhorted their fellow countrymen to read more substantial things, and I think both gentlemen would die if they saw what most of our populace considers great reading. P.s. Because I have to star this rating, I will give it 5 stars for what I'm sure is another spot-on outing by a living legend.
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