DeLillo’s latest novel concerns former top-level military strategist Richard Elster, recently emerged from the fog of the Iraq War and living alone in the arid clarity of the Mojave Desert. All but done with humanity and convinced civilisation is closing in on the Omega Point of the title – the cataclysmic overload kind – he has retreated into contemplation.
A young filmmaker is the first to disrupt this isolation, and later Elster’s daughter, escaping a possibly abusive relationship back east. The stage would seem set for conflict, revelation and the discussion of Big Terrible Ideas in the unremitting sun, but the author side-steps easy resolution in favour of investigating the fingerprints formed within the ‘small dull smears of meditative panic’ we feel every day in the post-9/11 world.
The result will be hypnotic or frustrating, depending on your predilections, but one suspects the ‘implied challenge to figure out what the point was’ will tug at the minds of those befuddled by Delillo’s oblique turns as much as those engrossed in them.
Adam Lee Davies