Tuesday, August 2, 2011

He's A Poet and He Doesn't Even Know It

Love-Lies-Bleeding by Don DeLillo
published by Scribner
112 pages

I had taken a small break from DeLillo after having read his most well known work, White Noise. I was a bit disappointed with it and figured I needed some space, so to speak. Getting back into his work, I'm reminded why I love his prose and dialogue.

Of his three plays, Love-Lies-Bleeding is the first and only I've read. It is sparse territory, taking place in the south western desert of the United States and contains only four characters/actors. The main character, Alex, is an aging artist who has just suffered from a massive second stroke and as such, is in a "persistent vegetative state." So his estranged son and ex-wife have come to convince his second, younger wife to let him die. Or help him die, which is the matter at hand. It examines issues of mercy, mortality, and what it means to actually live in this world.

Its language and dialogue are meditative. Those familiar with DeLillo will recognize his style instantly. Repetition. The naming of things. The dialogue that sounds natural but in reality, no one would ever say. The poetry of his words. It foreshadows Point Omega both in its setting, mood, and tone. Love-Lies-Bleeding doesn't differ greatly from his novels style-wise and it very well could have been just another one of his novellas. But his words still give me the chills.

Of DeLillo's 18 published works (excluding Amazons by Cleo Birdwell), I have five works left. Three novels (End Zone, Great Jones Street, and Ratner's Star) and two plays (The Day Room and Valparaiso).

Archived Suicide

Suicide by Edouard Leve
published by Dalkey Archive Press
144 pages

I don't know why I'm reading this in the summer. Maybe because if I read it in the autumn or winter it would simply be too much. But I came across this slim novel while looking through Dalkey Archive's catalog and its beautiful cover caught my eye. And then I read how the author killed himself shortly after handing in his final manuscript, entitled Suicide. Well, that was pretty much all I needed, seeing as how, like many literary types, I am weirdly fascinated with all things suicide, especially when it comes to writers. The tortured souls and what not. Not quite sure what it is about suicide that so interests me. The finality of it. The tremendous psychic pain. The willful act of taking yourself away from this world. Not sure. Ruminations for another time.

But with Suicide, Leve introduces us to an unnamed narrator as he (the narrator) creates a fragmented picture of a friend who had committed suicide years before. It is all told in the second person through moments, small and large, in the friends life. It is a stark portrait, funny at times, devastating at others. Perhaps a sort of suicide note from Leve, perhaps not.