Monday, August 17, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 18.3 (Don DeLillo)


Americana
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
DeLillo, Don
Americana


Not sure what it is with Don DeLillo, but out of the five books of his I own, only two are the actual copies I read myself. This is another substitute. The copy I read may have been the original paperback version. I recall it had a sort of glossy, mass market cover in Miami Dolphins blue and orange and that it may or may not have had a red paper edge. I bought it at 7th St. books.

This copy, however, was given to me as a gift by an old acquaintance, K, as a going away present when I was leaving NYC for a year to go volunteer in Ecuador. K. was part of that writer's group I wrote about in an earlier post. I didn't tell him I'd already read the book when he gave it to me, but I did end up keeping his copy because it was in better condition and was of a similar design to the others I owned.

It is inscribed:

8/12/94

Mike,

This will help ward off any culture shock or nostalgia you may feel down by the equator.

Peace and Strength,

K

I remember the party where he gave it to me. It was on the roof of my friend E's apartment in Brooklyn heights, just under the Brooklyn bridge overlooking the southeastern shore of Manhattan. I had lots of different groups of friends in New York. Some knew each other, some didn't. Some got along, some didn't. I managed to get most of them to come out for this party.

Some of my students and fellow faculty members at the high school where I'd been teaching were there. A lot of my college friends were there. Some artist friends, some poet friends, some ex-girlfriends. Several people with whom my twenty-something relationships were awkwardly ambiguous and undefined. I remember for certain that two friends did not come because of open hostilities with other guests.

I have a little envelope of photos from this party on which is inscribed -- "For Mike, even though he's a jerk." It was mailed to me in Ecuador by one of those people with whom I shared an awkwardly ambiguous relationship.

from Americana

Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Lights were strong across the front of every shop. Men selling chestnuts wheeled their smoky carts. In the evenings the crowds were immense and traffic built to a tidal roar. The santas of Fifth Avenue rang their little bells with an odd sad delicacy, as if sprinkling salt on some brutally spoiled piece of meat. Music came from all the stores in jingles, chants and hosannas, and from the Salvation Army bands came the martial trumpet lament of ancient Christian legions. It was a strange sound to hear in that time and place, the smack of cymbals and high-collared drums, a suggestion that children were being scolded for a bottomless sin, and it seemed to annoy people. But the girls were lovely and undismayed, shopping in every mad store, striding through those magnetic twilights like drum majorettes, tall and pink, bright orange packages cradled to their tender breasts. The bling man's German shepherd slept through it all.

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