I came across this community because I was searching DeLillo, I think, though I haven't read DeLillo in years. I went through a period in college when I read almost all of his books in a row, in a rush, after starting with Underworld and crying all over the riff at the end. For a year or two, I think I thought in DeLillo. (Imagine if an author were an entire language.) (These days, I would want to live in the Republic of Aimee Bender.)
Anybody else mark places and times with books? I have particularly specific memories of the books I've bought in airports or in new cities. I just moved to New York this summer on a train with one suitcase and three smaller bags, and as soon as I got here, all free and untethered, a mild panic began to set in about the lack of printed matter in my room and all of the books I left behind. One of my first purchases here in the city was Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead , because I had just read a beautiful short story by him in this quarter's Oxford American that took me completely by surprise. Here's a quote from the short story, apropos to my panic of booklessness:
The heart of every house was the kitchen, the soul of every house was the bedroom, and the mind of every house was displayed with hooks and thumbtacks on the walls. But the conscience of every house, she believed - the conscience of every house was the bookshelves.
I just finished the novel last night. The novel, like the short story, rolls. It's the kind of book that sweeps you along in the strangest way. I wasn't sold at first, but it just kept unfolding in such a way that by the last third of the book, I had to finish it in one sitting. And now Kevin Brockmeier is forever the marker of my move to New York. It's kind of perfect, actually, because it's all about a city (though a different kind than this one). He takes the world and turns it just slightly off-kilter, so you recognize it, and it's altogether human, but it's changed. Wilder colors. Bigger hope, softer sadness. Something askew, but not in a "tricked you" way, because in the end it's always about the deepening of the characters.
There you have it.
Hello Crocodiles, good night!