The American writer tells Guardian Live audience how his vast novel developed

don-delillo-underworld“It was a fairly modest undertaking at first,” Don DeLillo told the Guardian live event, explaining how his 827-page novel came to be. “It was a novella – I assumed perhaps 50, 60 pages … I had an idea based on a newspaper headline that I saw when I realised it was 3 October 1991, the 40th anniversary of this famous game.” Visiting a local library to check the microfilm archive, he found that the front page of the New York Times was split perfectly in two, one half reporting the Giants’ win and the other the Soviet Union’s explosion of its first nuclear bomb. “So there it was, and once I saw it there was no escape.” (more…)

An essay by the American novelist Philip Roth, first written in the 1960s
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Photograph: Saul Leiter
Several winters back, while I was living in Chicago, the city was shocked and mystified by the death of two teen-age girls. So far as I know the populace is mystified still; as for the shock, Chicago is Chicago, and one week’s dismemberment fades into the next’s. The victims this particular year were sisters. They went off one December night to see an Elvis Presley movie, for the sixth or seventh time we are told, and never came home. Ten days passed and fifteen and twenty, and then the whole bleak city, every street and alley, was being searched for the missing Grimes girls, Pattie and Babs. (more…)

An incredibly relevant and perceptive article on the psychopathology of fascism
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J. G. Ballard

The psychopath never dates.

Hitler’s contemporaries – Baldwin, Chamberlain, Herbert Hoover – seem pathetically fusty figures, with their frock coats and wing collars, closer to the world of Edison, Carnegie and the hansom cab than to the first fully evolved modern societies over which they presided, areas of national consciousness formed by mass-produced newspapers and consumer goods, advertising and tele-communications. By comparison Hitler is completely up-to-date, and would be equally at home in the sixties (and probably even more so in the seventies) as in the twenties. The whole apparatus of the Nazi super-state, its nightmare uniforms and propaganda, seems weirdly turned-on, providing just that element of manifest insanity to which we all respond in the H-Bomb or Viet Nam – perhaps one reason why the American and Russian space programmes have failed to catch our imaginations is that this quality of explicit psychopathology is missing. (more…)

‘The trivia is exceptional’: DeLillo on the Kennedy Assassination
Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo

Among the treasures online at The Paris Review is a 1993 interview with American novelist Don DeLillo. Adam Begley talks to the writer about everything from his work routine to world politics to his unique brand of dialogue. (more…)