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Zero K: A Novel

Zero K: A Novel

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Zero K: A Novel

évaluations:
3/5 (15 évaluations)
Longueur:
266 pages
4 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
May 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781501135408
Format:
Livre

Description

A New York Times Notable Book

A New York Times bestseller, “DeLillo’s haunting new novel, Zero K—his most persuasive since his astonishing 1997 masterpiece, Underworld” (The New York Times), is a meditation on death and an embrace of life.

Jeffrey Lockhart’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say “an uncertain farewell” to her as she surrenders her body.

“We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?” These are the questions that haunt the novel and its memorable characters, and it is Ross Lockhart, most particularly, who feels a deep need to enter another dimension and awake to a new world. For his son, this is indefensible. Jeff, the book’s narrator, is committed to living, to experiencing “the mingled astonishments of our time, here, on earth.”

Don DeLillo’s “daring…provocative…exquisite” (The Washington Post) new novel weighs the darkness of the world—terrorism, floods, fires, famine, plague—against the beauty and humanity of everyday life; love, awe, “the intimate touch of earth and sun.”

“One of the most mysterious, emotionally moving, and rewarding books of DeLillo’s long career” (The New York Times Book Review), Zero K is a glorious, soulful novel from one of the great writers of our time.
Éditeur:
Sortie:
May 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781501135408
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Don DeLillo is the author of seventeen novels including White Noise, Libra, Underworld, Falling Man, and Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2013, DeLillo was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, and in 2015, the National Book Foundation awarded DeLillo its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. 

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Zero K - Don DeLillo

Barbara

PART ONE

In the Time of Chelyabinsk

- 1 -

Everybody wants to own the end of the world.

This is what my father said, standing by the contoured windows in his New York office—private wealth management, dynasty trusts, emerging markets. We were sharing a rare point in time, contemplative, and the moment was made complete by his vintage sunglasses, bringing the night indoors. I studied the art in the room, variously abstract, and began to understand that the extended silence following his remark belonged to neither one of us. I thought of his wife, the second, the archaeologist, the one whose mind and failing body would soon begin to drift, on schedule, into the void.

•  •  •

That moment came back to me some months later and half a world away. I sat belted into the rear seat of an armored hatchback with smoked side windows, blind both ways. The driver, partitioned, wore a soccer jersey and sweatpants with a bulge at the hip indicating a sidearm. After an hour’s ride over rough roads he brought the car to a stop and said something into his lapel device. Then he eased his head forty-five degrees in the direction of the right rear passenger seat. I took this to mean that it was time for me to unstrap myself and get out.

The ride was the last stage in a marathon journey and I walked away from the vehicle and stood a while, stunned by the heat, holding my overnight bag and feeling my body unwind. I heard the engine start up and turned to watch. The car was headed back to the private airstrip and it was the only thing moving out there, soon to be enveloped in land or sinking light or sheer horizon.

I completed my turn, a long slow scan of salt flats and stone rubble, empty except for several low structures, possibly interconnected, barely separable from the bleached landscape. There was nothing else, nowhere else. I hadn’t known the precise nature of my destination, only its remoteness. It was not hard to imagine that my father at his office window had conjured his remark from this same stark terrain and the geometric slabs that blended into it.

He was here now, they both were, father and stepmother, and I’d come to pay the briefest of visits and say an uncertain farewell.

The number of structures was hard to determine from my near vantage. Two, four, seven, nine. Or only one, a central unit with rayed attachments. I imagined it as a city to be discovered at a future time, self-contained, well-preserved, nameless, abandoned by some unknown migratory culture.

The heat made me think I was shrinking but I wanted to remain a moment and look. These were buildings in hiding, agoraphobically sealed. They were blind buildings, hushed and somber, invisibly windowed, designed to fold into themselves, I thought, when the movie reaches the point of digital collapse.

I followed a stone path to a broad portal where two men stood watching. Different soccer jerseys, same hip bulge. They stood behind a set of bollards designed to keep vehicles from entering the immediate area.

Off to the side, at the far edge of the entranceway, strangely, two other figures, in chadors, shrouded women standing motionless.

- 2 -

My father had grown a beard. This surprised me. It was slightly grayer than the hair on his head and had the effect of setting off his eyes, intensifying the gaze. Was this the beard a man grows who is eager to enter a new dimension of belief?

I said, When does it happen?

We’re working on the day, the hour, the minute. Soon, he said.

He was in his mid-to-late sixties, Ross Lockhart, broad-shouldered and agile. His dark glasses sat on the desk in front of him. I was accustomed to meeting him in offices, somewhere or other. This one was improvised, several screens, keyboards and other devices set about the room. I was aware that he’d put major sums of money into this entire operation, this endeavor, called the Convergence, and the office was a gesture of courtesy, allowing him to maintain convenient contact with his network of companies, agencies, funds, trusts, foundations, syndicates, communes and clans.

And Artis.

She’s completely ready. There’s no trace of hesitation or second thoughts.

We’re not talking about spiritual life everlasting. This is the body.

The body will be frozen. Cryonic suspension, he said.

Then at some future time.

Yes. The time will come when there are ways to counteract the circumstances that led to the end. Mind and body are restored, returned to life.

This is not a new idea. Am I right?

This is not a new idea. It is an idea, he said, that is now approaching full realization.

I was disoriented. This was the morning of what would be my first full day here and this was my father across the desk and none of it was familiar, not the situation or the physical environment or the bearded man himself. I’d be on my way home before I’d be able to absorb any of it.

And you have complete confidence in this project.

Complete. Medically, technologically, philosophically.

People enroll their pets, I said.

Not here. Nothing here is speculative. Nothing is wishful or peripheral. Men, women. Death, life.

His voice carried the even tone of a challenge.

Is it possible for me to see the area where it happens?

Extremely doubtful, he said.

Artis, his wife, was suffering from several disabling illnesses. I knew that multiple sclerosis was largely responsible for her deterioration. My father was here as devoted witness to her passing and then as educated observer of whatever initial methods would allow preservation of the body until the year, the decade, the day when it might safely be permitted to reawaken.

When I got here I was met by two armed escorts. Took me through security, took me to the room, said next to nothing. That’s all I know. And the name, which sounds religious.

Faith-based technology. That’s what it is. Another god. Not so different, it turns out, from some of the earlier ones. Except that it’s real, it’s true, it delivers.

Life after death.

Eventually, yes.

The Convergence.

Yes.

There’s a meaning in mathematics.

There’s a meaning in biology. There’s a meaning in physiology. Let it rest, he said.

When my mother died, at home, I was seated next to the bed and there was a friend of hers, a woman with a cane, standing in the doorway. That’s how I would picture the moment, narrowed, now and always, to the woman in the bed, the woman in the doorway, the bed itself, the metal cane.

Ross said, Down in an area that serves as a hospice I sometimes stand among the people being prepared to undergo the process. Anticipation and awe intermingled. Far more palpable than apprehension or uncertainty. There’s a reverence, a state of astonishment. They’re together in this. Something far larger than they’d ever imagined. They feel a common mission, a destination. And I find myself trying to imagine such a place centuries back. A lodging, a shelter for travelers. For pilgrims.

Okay, pilgrims. We’re back to the old-time religion. Is it possible for me to visit the hospice?

Probably not, he said.

He gave me a small flat disk appended to a wristband. He said it was similar to the ankle monitor that kept police agencies informed of a suspect’s whereabouts, pending trial. I’d be allowed entry to certain areas on this level and the one above, nowhere else. I could not remove the wristband without alerting security.

Don’t be quick to draw conclusions about what you see and hear. This place was designed by serious people. Respect the idea. Respect the setting itself. Artis says we ought to regard it as a work-in-progress, an earthwork, a form of earth art, land art. Built up out of the land and sunk down into it as well. Restricted access. Defined by stillness, both human and environmental. A little tomblike as well. The earth is the guiding principle, he said. Return to the earth, emerge from the earth.

•  •  •

I spent time walking the halls. The halls were nearly empty, three people, at intervals, and I nodded to each, receiving only a single grudging glance. The walls were shades of green. Down one broad hall, turn into another. Blank walls, no windows, doors widely spaced, all doors shut. These were doors of related colors, subdued, and I wondered if there was meaning to be found in these slivers of the spectrum. This is what I did in any new environment. I tried to inject meaning, make the place coherent or at least locate myself within the place, to confirm my uneasy presence.

At the end of the last hall there was a screen jutting from a niche in the ceiling. It began to lower, stretching wall to wall and reaching nearly to the floor. I approached slowly. At first the images were all water. There was water racing through woodlands and surging over riverbanks. There were scenes of rain beating on terraced fields, long moments of nothing but rain, then people everywhere running, others helpless in small boats bouncing over rapids. There were temples flooded, homes pitching down hillsides. I watched as water kept rising in city streets, cars and drivers going under. The size of the screen lifted the effect out of the category of TV news. Everything loomed, scenes lasted long past the usual broadcast breath. It was there in front of me, on my level, immediate and real, a woman sitting life-sized on a lopsided chair in a house collapsed in mudslide. A man, a face, underwater, staring out at me. I had to step back but also had to keep looking. It was hard not to look. Finally I glanced back down the hall waiting for someone to appear, another witness, a person who might stand next to me while the images built and clung.

There was no audio.

- 3 -

Artis was alone in the suite where she and Ross were staying. She sat in an armchair, wearing robe and slippers, and appeared to be asleep.

What do I say? How do I begin?

You look beautiful, I thought, and she did, sadly so, attenuated by illness, lean face and ash-blond hair, uncombed, pale hands folded in her lap. I used to think of her as the Second Wife and then as the Stepmother and then, again, as the Archaeologist. This last product label was not so reductive, mainly because I was finally getting to know her. I liked to imagine that she was the scientist as ascetic, living for periods in crude encampments, someone who might readily adapt to unsparing conditions of another kind.

Why did my father ask me to come here?

He wanted me to be with him when Artis died.

I sat on a cushioned bench, watching and waiting, and soon my thoughts fell away from the still figure in the chair and then there he was, there we were, Ross and I, in miniaturized mindspace.

He was a man shaped by money. He’d made an early reputation by analyzing the profit impact of natural disasters. He liked to talk to me about money. My mother said, What about sex, that’s what he needs to know. The language of money was complicated. He defined terms, drew diagrams, seemed to be living in a state of emergency, planted in the office most days for ten or twelve hours, or rushing to airports, or preparing for conferences. At home he stood before a full-length mirror reciting from memory speeches he was working on about risk appetites and offshore jurisdictions, refining his gestures and facial expressions. He had an affair with an office temp. He ran in the Boston Marathon.

What did I do? I mumbled, I shuffled, I shaved a strip of hair along the middle of my head, front to back—I was his personal antichrist.

He left when I was thirteen. I was doing my trigonometry homework when he told me. He sat across the small desk where my ever-sharpened pencils jutted from an old marmalade jar. I kept doing my homework while he spoke. I examined the formulas on the page and wrote in my notebook, over and over: sine cosine tangent.

Why did my father leave my mother?

Neither ever said.

Years later I lived in a room-and-a-half rental in upper Manhattan. One evening there was my father on TV, an obscure channel, poor reception, Ross in Geneva, sort of double-imaged, speaking French. Did I know that my father spoke French? Was I sure that this man was my father? He made a reference, in subtitles, to the ecology of unemployment. I watched standing up.

And Artis now in this barely believable place, this desert apparition, soon to be preserved, a glacial body in a massive burial chamber. And after that a future beyond imagining. Consider the words alone. Time, fate, chance, immortality. And here is my simpleminded past, my dimpled history, the moments I can’t help summoning because they’re mine, impossible not to see and feel, crawling out of every wall around me.

Ash Wednesday, once, I went to church and stood in line. I looked around at the statues, plaques and pillars, the stained glass windows, and then I went to the altar rail and knelt. The priest approached and made his mark, a splotch of holy ash thumb-printed to my forehead. Dust thou art. I was not Catholic, my parents were not Catholic. I didn’t know what we were. We were Eat and Sleep. We were Take Daddy’s Suit to the Dry Cleaner.

When he left I decided to embrace the idea of being abandoned, or semi-abandoned. My mother and I understood and trusted each other. We went to live in Queens, in a garden apartment that had no garden. This suited us both. I let the hair grow back on my aboriginal shaved head. We went for walks together. Who does this, mother and teenage son, in the United States of America? She did not lecture me, or rarely did, on my swerves out of observable normality. We ate bland food and batted a tennis ball back and forth on a public court.

But the robed priest and the small grinding action of his thumb implanting the ash. And to dust thou shalt return. I walked the streets looking for people who might look at me. I stood in front of store windows studying my reflection. I didn’t know what this was. Was this some freakified gesture of reverence? Was I playing a trick on Holy Mother Church? Or was I simply attempting to thrust myself into meaningful sight? I wanted the stain to last for days and weeks. When I got home my mother leaned back away from me as if to gain perspective. It was the briefest of appraisals. I made it a point not to grin—I had a gravedigger’s grin. She said something about the boring state of Wednesdays throughout the world. A little ash, at minimum expense, and a Wednesday, here and there, she said, becomes something to remember.

Eventually my father and I began to jostle our way through some of the tensions that had kept us at a distance and I accepted certain arrangements he made concerning my education but went nowhere near the businesses he owned.

And years later, it felt like a lifetime later, I began to know the woman who now sat before me, leaning into the light shed by a table lamp nearby.

And in another lifetime, hers, she opened her eyes and saw me sitting there.

Jeffrey.

Arrived late yesterday.

Ross told me.

And it turns out to be true.

I took her hand and held it. There seemed to be nothing more to say but we spoke for an hour. Her voice was a near whisper and so was mine, in accord with the circumstances, or the environment itself, the long hushed hallways, the sense of enclosure and isolation, a new generation of earth art, with human bodies in states of suspended animation.

Since coming here I’ve found myself concentrating on small things, then smaller. My mind is unwinding, unspooling. I think of details buried for years. I see moments that I missed before or thought too trivial to recall. It’s my condition, of course, or my medication. It’s a sense of closing down, coming to an end.

Temporarily.

Do you have trouble believing this? Because I don’t. I’ve studied the matter, she said.

I know you have.

Skepticism of course. We need this. But at a certain point we begin to understand there’s something so much larger and more enduring.

Here’s a simple question. Practical, not skeptical. Why aren’t you in the hospice?

Ross wants me nearby. Doctors visit regularly.

She had trouble dealing with the congested syllables in this last word and spoke more slowly from this point on.

Or I get wheeled along corridors and into dark enclosures that move up and down in a shaft or maybe sideways or backwards. In any case I’m taken to an examining room where they watch and listen, all so silently. There’s a nurse somewhere in this suite, or nurses. We speak Mandarin, she and I, or he and I.

Do you think about the kind of world you’ll be returning to?

I think about drops of water.

I waited.

She said, I think about drops of water. How I used to stand in the shower and watch a drop of water edge down the inside of the sheer curtain. How I concentrated on the drop, the droplet, the orblet, and waited for it to assume new shapes as it passed across ridges and folds, with water pounding against the side of my head. I remember this from when? Twenty years ago, thirty, longer? I don’t know. What was I thinking at the time? I don’t know. Maybe I gave a certain kind of life to the drop of water. I animated it, cartooned it. I don’t know. Probably my mind was mostly blank. The water that’s smacking my head is damn cold but I don’t bother adjusting the flow. I need to watch the drop, see it begin to lengthen, to ooze. But it’s too clear and transparent to be a thing that oozes. I stand there getting smacked in the head while I tell myself there is no oozing. Ooze is mud or slime, it’s primitive life at the ocean bottom and it’s made chiefly of microscopic sea creatures.

She spoke a kind of shadow language, pausing, thinking, trying to remember, and when she came back to this moment, this room, she had to place me, re-situate me, Jeffrey, son of, seated across from her. I was Jeff to everyone but Artis. That extra syllable, in her tender voice, made me self-aware, or aware of a second self, more agreeable and dependable, a man who walks with his shoulders squared, pure fiction.

Sometimes in a dark room, I said, "I will shut my eyes. I walk into the room and shut my eyes. Or, in the bedroom, I wait until I approach the lamp that sits on the bureau next to the bed. Then I shut my eyes. Is this a surrender to the dark? I don’t know what this is. Is this an accommodation? Let the dark dictate the terms of the situation? What is this? Sounds like something a weird kid does. The kid I used to be. But I do it even now. I walk into a dark room and maybe wait a moment and stand in the doorway and then shut my eyes. Am I testing myself by doubling

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Avis des lecteurs

  • (1/5)
    Couldn’t get in to it.
  • (5/5)
    Zero K by Don DeLilloHow is it that readers discover books at opportune points in their lives? Youngsters read biographies or coming of age novels that inspire them to reach their own ideals. I recall now, Sinclair Lewis’ ARROWSMITH and Jack London’s MARTIN EDEN. As I enter my 8th decade of life I more frequently reflect on life, its temporariness and final chapter, death. This is not a remorseful experience, more one of reflection and appreciation for what life has offered.Don DeLillo, one of the great American novelists of his generation published ZERO K as he entered his 9th decade of his life. This book resonates my own present moment. Zero K tells the story of a son whose father is a billionaire investor. Divorced from his mother he is dedicated and in love with his 2nd wife Artis, an anthropologist, who is dying from an unspoken disease. Not wishing the end, Ross, invests untold millions of dollars building an advance facility in the middle of the steppes bordering Russia and Asia. There, scientists and conceptual artists erect an underground fortress where the dying can be frozen in cryonic suspension waiting for a future date when science will allow rejuvenation. As his wife enters this final stage of suspension Ross summons his son, Jeffrey, to the facility. There Jeffrey explores the hidden hallways and nooks designed by the Stenmark twins, futurists and conceptual artists/scientists who designed the interiors: hallways that end nowhere, doors that do not open, calming blue collared walls, faceless mannequins and video screens depicting natural and man-made disasters. While encapsulated in cryonic suspension the subjects are programmed:“Nano-units implanted in suitable receptors of the brain. Russian novels, the films of Bergman, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Tarkovsky. Classic works of art. Children reading nursery rhymes in many languages. The propositions of Wittgenstein, an audiotext of logic and philosophy. Family photographs and videos, the pornography of your choice. In the capsule you dream of old lovers and listen to Bach, to Billie Holiday. You study the intertwined structures of music and mathematics. You reread the plays of Ibsen, revisit the rivers and streams of sentences of Hemingway.”As in his earlier novels. END ZONE depicting the specter of nuclear war and WHITE NOISE environmental disasters, here too DeLillo’s characters are confronted with ominous threats to civilization and human kind: “hundreds of millions of people in the future billions who are struggling to find something to eat not once or twice a day but all day every day…the loss of forests, the spread of drought, the massive dieoffs of birds and ocean life, the levels of carbon dioxide, the lack of drinking water, the waves that envelop broad geographics…biological warfare with its variant forms of mass extinction…refugees everywhere, victims of war in great numbers, living in makeshift shelters, unable to return to their crushed cities and towns, dying at sea when their rescue vessels capsize.”Yes, we all recognize these threats, we read about them in our daily newspapers and see such videos and photos daily on cable TV. It is DeLillo who chooses not to ignore these horrors but to create a fictional world in which people react and respond with thoughtfulness, wistfulness, honesty and fear. Indeed, this has become the ongoing theme of DeLillo’s work for many decades now. He offers up both humor and philosophy to comment on the depth of these realities. “Half the world is redoing its kitchens, the other half is starving”. “Isn’t the sting of our eventual dying what makes us precious to the people in our lives.” And, “Is a man of epic wealth allowed to be broken by grief”.Additionally DeLillo waxes on age when the billionaire Ross, contemplating his being separated from his beloved 2nd wife Artis:“People getting older become more fond of objects...Particular things. A leather-bound book, A piece of furniture, a photograph, a painting, the frame that holds the painting. These things make the past seem permanent. A baseball signed by a famous player, long dead. A simple coffee mug. Things we trust. They tell an important story. A person’s life, all those who entered and left, there’s a depth, a richness.”This all rings so true.So Ross has invested part of his wealth to create this facility called The Convergence, described as “the merger, breath to breath, of end and beginning.” He asks his son Jeffrey, intending to explain his rational, “we are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner?”Ross decides, though in good health, to join Artis. At first this shocks the very father-son relationship that had been earlier fractured when Ross divorced Jeffrey’s mother. Again he summons Jeffrey via private jet to The Convergence, the guarded, fortified facility built in the middle of nowhere. Here Jeffery is escorted to the inner sanctum where the frozen persons are suspended. Rows of hairless bodies, of various skin color and body shapes, suspended in pods, cooling at a temperature of zero k, all lined up in the same direction He sees an “archaeology for a future age…here was a civilization designed to be reborn one day long after the catastrophic collapse of everything on the surface…Here was science awash in irrepressible fantasy”,…so observes the awe struck still skeptical yet open minded son. In the end he too finds some solace as he rejects the wealth his father meant to leave him choosing instead a ho-hum simple life as an ethics and compliance officer at a middling liberal arts college in Connecticut.On some level, Ross’s quest is pure escapism. In the face of world chaos dying people of means put off the ultimate ending hoping for a better eternal future.As I enter the 8th decade of my life, here in Zero K, I have discovered a tale created by a master that resonates upon my own making peace with the temporary yet magnanimous meanings of life and death.
  • (1/5)
    I had to put this down less than 100 pages in. Frankly, I found it dull.
  • (3/5)
    “We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?” Jeffrey Lockhart is summoned by his billionaire father, to a compound, (somewhere in Russia),where his ailing mother is living her last days. This is a place where an individual can choose their moment of death and then they are preserved in a cryogenic state.I really wanted to like this novel more. DeLillo is such a craftsman and the premise here is very interesting. His writing is smart and agile, but he also rambles into territory that left my eyes glazed and my mind cloudy. Maybe, my brain is unable to untangle his various forays and tangents, so I will have to leave it to bigger intellects. Hey, I heard James Patterson has a new book out...
  • (5/5)
    DeLillo's latest novel kept reminding me of certain science fiction authors. I don't think that was intended but it influenced my reactions to this novel. A cover blurb describes the novel as a meditation on death and a celebration of life. I would say it is a meditation on life, on the impulse to commit to other people, on our moments of desperation, joy, indifference.
  • (3/5)
    I'm glad I read Zero K. I have many issues with it and reservations about it.Like many folks I've read White Noise and Underworld. This is just the third novel of his that I've read.His first-person narrator is impeccably and consistently constructed, such that I can't really tell where authorial viewpoint ends and character viewpoint begins.The novel's postmodernist viewpoint on global issues is shot through with nostalgia at best, and suffused with almost unbearable amounts of white privilege. I say this as a white male and indeed privileged reader—I feel the character is lacking any kind of grounding or consciousness about his own identity. This seems partly by design but also partly something the novel doesn't seem to want to deal with even though much of it is fairly obsessed with global cultural cross-currents.There is a such a flattening of specificity to many passages. Mount Kailash in Tibet is described in detailed without ever being named. Cliches of terrorism and Islamism are presented without nuance or names. There are passing references to the Islamic State that never name it. Intellectual & learning disabilities in children are repeatedly grist for the mill, but never differentiated. The novel ends in a passage that romanticizes an unnamed boy's severe autism—without calling it autism. I can't tell whether this approach reflects most tellingly on the novel's stance, or its idea of who the protagonist is, or the novelist himself.The protagonist seems to ache for the girlfriend who has drifted out of his life, but when her son disappears, he does nothing to mobilize his father's immense wealth and resources to help find him, even though it's very clear that he could do that. The character does not even consider the possibility, so again it's hard to tell whether DeLillo has. I can understand why some readers find this character too trapped in his head. One review I read mentions that the Convergence—the futuristic cryo-preservation facility where much of the action is set—calls to mind very clearly the setting of Alex Garland's film Ex Machina. I share that feeling and suggest that the novel seems to share with the film some kind of nostalgia for the erasures and pure constructions of modernism."We will approximate the logic and beauty of pure mathematics in everyday speech," says the wisdom figure Ben Ezra in one scene—a thought that is recapitulated late in the text. It brings to mind a passage from Robert Musil's 1943 novel The Man Without Qualities: "mathematics, which is the new method of thought itself, the mind itself, the very wellspring of the times and the primal source of an incredible transformation."It's a serious piece of work and worth engaging with, but it did leave me wanting something more–a novel born of these times and yet not engaging with them on the level I aspire to. It artfully, elegantly traces the contours of today's euphoric surfaces rather than deconstructing them.
  • (3/5)
    I have read many Don DeLillo novels, but the ones from the last 10 years pale compared to White Noise, Libra, and Underworld. Zero K deals with life extension through having the body frozen to be brought back in the future. The narrator is the son of a billionaire whose 2nd wife is going through the process. The father is a major backer of the Convergence that is doing this. The book is very existential and slow moving. The language is good but the story is inert and way too much in the head of the narrator. Had the book been longer I would have not finished it. At 80 DeLillo's best work might be behind him.For those who have never read him try his earlier works.
  • (2/5)
    Weird & rambling pointless novel. The author clearly is talented, but in terms of character, plot, or scene it reads as if it is trying to be overly literary & "cute". "Look at how elegantly I can write". "She needed a name, maybe it should start with a C, or an S."
    99% bullshit
  • (3/5)
    Two distinct human desires converge: the longing for rebirth or renewal without end and the wish to end everything not just oneself. It may be the case that the one implies the other. Can there be true rebirth without an absolute end that precedes it? What end is absolute other than the end of rebirth itself? If these questions trouble your sleep, you may be ripe for the burgeoning field of transhumanism. The transhumanist insists that the self is not tied to any specific physical body. We can transcend our bodies. And not just through the questionable metaphysics of souls. Rather through the hard science of mental states and human psychology transferred for a time to a holding place and later possibly reinterred in a physical body which may or may not be similar to the one we now inhabit.Ross Lockhart is a billionaire whose great desire is for his second wife, Artis, and himself to transcend their finite state. He has funded a facility, The Convergence, in the apolitical wasteland of the former USSR to pursue this end with extreme diligence, for himself and others with the funds and foresight to buy in. When Artis incurs a life-threatening illness, Ross brings his estranged adult son, Jeffrey, to join him as he bids au revoir to Artis. Ross will in due course follow Artis into suspended animation with the clear hope and intent of reviving in a far distant future. Jeffrey is bemused.With a purposeful detached style, DeLillo follows Jeffrey’s puzzlement and consideration of The Convergence. It is a strange place where unseen scientific developments go hand in glove with daunting philosophical and sociological arguments about ends and the end. It is so otherworldly that it might just as well be set on another planet. Indeed the living inhabitants of The Convergence have even developed a future language more perfect than any available to us as yet on earth, though incomprehensible to Jeffrey. DeLillo’s ambition is huge, though the result feels more like a Tarkovsky film, which is either a sign of brilliant success or abject failure depending on your inclination.I found myself unenthused by the novel despite acknowledging its technical brilliance. Perhaps novels are not the best fora for exploring challenging philosophical platforms such as the transhumanist agenda even if they are essential for prompting the necessary aporia that might make further serious philosophical investigation worthwhile. And in this light, I gently recommend this novel.
  • (3/5)
    DeLillo is a writer of genius, and all his work is worth reading, and I didn't find this a radical departure from his previous works. It was pretty much vintage DeLillo to me.I especially loved the first half of Zero K: It was powerful and captivating, typically alienating and strange.
  • (5/5)
    “Everybody wants to own the end of the world.”These are the opening words of author Don Delillo’s latest novel, Zero K. They are spoken by billionaire Ross Lockhart to his son, Jeff, a young man somewhat adrift in the world and the narrator of this tale. But he is not referring to some huge disaster although he has made his fortune ‘analysing the profit impact of natural disasters’; he is referring to controlling death itself. He is inviting Jeff to a facility called the Convergence to say goodbye to his stepmother, archaeologist Artis Martineau who is suffering from several fatal diseases. She is to be frozen only to awaken some time in the future when a cure is possible. Ross has great faith in this and has invested a great deal of money in the Convergence but, when Jeff arrives and is shown the facility in all its sterile cold vastness and heard the almost cult-like explanations of the staff, he is horrified:She would die, chemically prompted, in a subzero vault, in a highly precise medical procedure guided by mass delusion, by superstition and ignorance and self-deception.Delillo’s novels are, at least to me, almost impossible to categorize and Zero K is no exception – the closest I guess would be literary science fiction. He writes about death, yes, and our fear of it and life and our fear of that too. There is a kind of existential mysticism (if that is a thing) in the descriptions of the Convergence by the people who run it which seems at odds with Jeff’s descriptions of the facilities as cold and sterile ie. a convergence of two distinct and in this case seemingly incompatible entities brought together for a single purpose. The question, of course, is this a real convergence or just the image of one. The story seems apocalyptic but only in a possible future as if it is the very possibility that makes it an inevitable reality. In the end, there is only the possibility of either the promise of the Convergence or the threat of an apocalypse – there are no real answers to the many questions that Delillo raises, only more questions leading to more possibilities seemingly ad infinitum…and that seems somehow appropriate about a novel that looks at death…Or I have read this completely wrong. All I know for sure – I finished this novel several days again and I am still trying to suss out what I read. So let me just finish with this – this is a beautifully written novel full of questions and ideas. Delillo uses language in amazing ways creating pictures that feel fully formed whether it is a sterile facility or a museum containing only one exhibit – at times, it is mysterious, lovely, ephemeral, even satirical, at others as sharp and precise as a scalpel cut. Zero K is not an easy book but it is well worth the effort if only for the beauty of the language and for the questions it raises. I give this a high recommendation for people who love beautiful writing and/or challenging stories.Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for an honest review
  • (5/5)
    Although not an avid fan of Don DeLillo, I have read a few of his novels without the urge to read all his works. I have ranged from red hot, Underworld to luke-cold, Libra. When I saw his latest novel, Zero K, the jacket prompted me to buy it. I am glad I did. While not as sweeping as Underworld, I found the premise and the prose most intriguing. Don DeLillo is an American novelist, playwright, and essayist. He was born in the Bronx, NY in 1936. Significantly to me, his influences are listed as Thomas Pynchon, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Vladimir, Nabokov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and last, but certainly neither least nor last, James Joyce. This is powerhouse-central for my reading satisfaction. I haven’t reviewed some of these authors, because I last read most of them before the beginning of “Likely Stories.” I think I will dig some up for a much needed second reading.Zero K tells the story of Ross Lockhart and his second wife, Artis, and his son Jeffrey from his first marriage to Madeline. Ross has amassed a huge fortune, but Artis is dying of cancer. He becomes involved as an investor to a program known as the “Convergence.” This organization, hidden deep underground somewhere in central Asia, has developed a process for preserving a body in deep freeze -- hence “zero K” for zero degrees Kelvin, or absolute zero. When Jeffrey learns of this plan he is, at first intrigued, but when He learns his father will join Artis even though he is not ill, he becomes horrified. To make matters worse, Artis and Ross ask Jeffrey to “go with them,” even though he is perfectly healthy. DeLillo’s prose has an urgency to it, as he slowly unveils secrets about the organization. Jeffrey has had some personal difficulties lately, and he is also looking for a “new world.” Much of the novel involves discussions and speculation about time, death, re-birth, and immortality. I also sensed that Jeffrey might have some degree of autism.Jeffrey, the narrator, wanders around the complex with a wrist monitor, which restricts his access to a highly limited degree. He attends lectures for family members about to die. Few of these people have names, but Jeffrey wants to give each a name. DeLillo writes, “Artis has spoken about being artificially herself. Was this the character, the half fiction who would soon be transformed. or reduced, or intensified, becoming pure self, suspended in ice? I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to think about a name for the woman [speaker]. // She spoke, with pauses, about the nature of time. What happens to the idea of continuum – past present, future – in the cryonic chamber? Will you understand days, years and minutes? Will this faculty diminish and die? How human are you without your sense of time? More human than ever? Or do you become fetal, an unborn thing? // She looked at Miklos Szabo, the Old World professor, and I imagined him in a three-piece suit, someone from the 1930s, a renowned philosopher having an illicit romance with a woman named Magda. // ‘Time is too difficult,’ he said” (67-68). With the ever growing number of states allowing a patient to make the decision to end his or her life, this topic has been on my mind whenever I see a friend or family member kept alive with machines. Don DiLillo’s latest novel, Zero K, is an excellent story to spark a discussion about end of life. 5 stars.--Chiron, 6/12/16
  • (5/5)
    Zero K is a quick read, because you can't help yourself, you must keep reading. Reading this novel was a unique experience of enjoyment that still has me wondering and marveling.
  • (3/5)
    I don't think this one will enhance DeLillo's chances of winning the Nobel, despite what Harold Bloom might think. It sounds like it should be a great meditation on mortality, but there isn't enough going on; its characters already seem dead. Maybe that's the irony about wanting to live forever.
  • (3/5)
    I wanted so badly to love this — and I did love parts of it. But overall, I thought the structure clunky, the characters murkily undeveloped, and the morals too lofty for my liking. I have this lingering feeling, though, that were I to have read this for an English class in high school or college, I would have found much to admire, dissect, and treasure amongst its pages.
  • (2/5)
    I have enjoyed Don DeLillo immensely in the past, but I didn't love Zero K. In my opinion, the philosophy is too heavy-handed, rendering the story line unenjoyable. Very existential (again, usually something I am attracted to in literature), but at the end of the day I was left thinking "meh".
  • (5/5)
    A recent review of Don DeLillo's 'Zero K' stated "I don’t read a DeLillo novel for its plot, character, setting ..... I read a DeLillo novel for its sentences." I firmly buy into that approach. DeLillo's use of language, sentence structure, and timing to drive his novels is unsurpassed. When he writes of technology and modern (or future) life, it's an exquisite match.

    Zero K isn't a light novel that can be summarized in a few sentences. I marveled at the language and the author's linguistic proficiency throughout, but the story itself, though fairly straightforward, is totally built for post-novel reflection. I can't even begin to summarize it. It's tech-y, spiritual, futuristic, hyper-wordy, and imaginative. My recommendation would be to read it for its sentences, appreciate the story, do some thinking about it, and appreciate the mastery of Don DeLillo.
  • (5/5)
    eu amei muito jesuuuuusssss amei de verdade , mesmo muito bom
  • (1/5)
    Needless to say, I didn't love it. I wanted to. Really. I am the type of person who needs to finish a book if I get 50 pages in, even if I find it agonizing. I could not manage to finish this one. I have loved many of DeLillo's earlier books, but this one was too just too obtuse and self-aggrandizing in my opinion. Maybe it gets better after the first half, but I kept either falling asleep or finding excuses to put it down. I think I will go back and re-read Americana instead...
  • (5/5)

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    This may be a slim volume but it is a big book. Delillo has often taken on big issues, and here he takes on the very biggest. What does it mean to be alive. This is no woowoo "what is the meaning of life" navel gaze. The question here is a literal one; "What defines being alive?" I think therefore I am? I speak therefore I am? I have no pulse and am cryogenically preserved so I have the possibility of a future therefore I am? Are we alive just because we eat dinner and take cabs? Are we defined by our relationships? I imagine these questions are very present for many octogenarians, but no one expresses them like DeLillo.Delillo says thing in ways that no one has ever expressed them. Yet, when you read his words, they are so perfect you can't imagine why everyone in history has not used those words, precisely those words. The only other living person I ever say that about is Leonard Cohen. I love words, and so there is no way I could not love these perfect words. I listened to this on audio, and it was actually quite good, but I wanted to think more about the words so after I finished the audio I went out and got the print version and started over from the beginning. The words are that good. The humor and the well drawn story arc are a bonus.

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