Don Delillo is one of my very favourite writers. I read Underworld 20 years ago when it came out, but it’s power only really came through re-reading it now. Its famous opening section recreates a 1951 New York baseball match between the Giants and the Dodgers, at which a championship-winning home run is hit. Delillo’s writing is surely (David Peace fans contest) the best ever literary recreation of a sporting event – focusing not so much on the action itself as how going to, being at and experiencing the match felt to those there – who include both J Edgar Hoover and Frank Sinatra – and a boy who wrestles the match-winning ball from someone who has befriended him. Later on we find out that the same night the Soviet Union has exploded its first atomic bomb, heralding the Cold War.
From there we jump forty years to the end of the Cold War, and meet the protagonist Nick as he drives out to the desert to reconnect with a former lover Klara Sax, who is leading a huge art project painting decommissioned B-52 nuclear bombers.
It’s no surprise that Delillo was drawn in a later novel » Continue Reading.