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 entrée 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.)
Reviewed on: 09/26/2011 Release date: 11/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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