Good thing I’m already so in love with DeLillo that I can overlook a dud (to me). I’m neither a war-story fan nor a sports fan and although there’s certainly more to the book than that, those are basic parts and the main theme itself is the relationship between contact sports (especially football) and war.
On the good side there’s really quite a lot of humor here. Also on the good side (albeit unintended by the author) it’s a great trip down memory lane. End Zone was first published in 1972 when the war in Vietnam was very much on almost everyone’s mind – when anti-war movement was at its height. So mostly I felt lost much of the time – just wanted to come up for air and out of the clashing male bodies.
Yes, I do see some elements of what would later become DeLillo’s prime themes – there’s quite a lot related to consumerism and language as a theme is explored. There’s some fair satire about race/ethnicity and women/sex but overall – nope, this is my least favorite of DeLillo’s oeuvre.
Anyone who has followed my reading habits for years knows that one of my all-time favorite authors is Don Delillo. I started in 1997 with Underworld which remains a most beloved book and which I’ve read 3 times. I’ve read everything he’s written as well as some of his prior works. Actually, the only books I’ve missed at this point are Americana, his first, Ratner’s Star and Players. One of my general reading goals is to finish these – I own them all – there’s no excuse.
DeLillo’s style is excellent and shows what will develop into the brilliance of Underworld – as the NY Times review predicted.
Great essay on language in End Zone (pdf file)