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A Quote from Don DeLillo’s Libra

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I’m in the middle of a Don DeLillo marathon, reading his books in chronological order. I just came across this famous passage in Libra.

Plots carry their own logic. There is a tendency of plots to move toward death. He believed that the idea of death is woven into the nature of every plot. A narrative plot no less than a conspiracy of armed men. The tighter the plot of a story, the more likely it will come to death. A plot in fiction, he believed, is the way we localize the force of the death outside the book, play it off, contain it.

Your thoughts?

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

4 thoughts on “A Quote from Don DeLillo’s Libra

  1. Personally, I’ve had to put great effort into not killing something in every story I write. Which isn’t to say I write tight plots…

  2. A character makes a very similar observation in White Noise, although I don’t have it in front of me right now. But yeah, that might be the difference between a plot and a bunch of things that happened.

  3. It is Don DeLillo’s thesis about the massive amounts of data in a post-modern world and its influence on our perception of language. If contemporary culture accepts the ideas of post-structuralism and its beliefs about who signifies data, cause and effect seem to vanish into something more complex. Information has increased so dramatically that there are multitudes of contradictory information. Since culture accepts the idea that the reader places meaning information, multiple stories of reality is created based on their personal view of cause and effect (another cornerstone of post-structuralism). Since there are contradictions, we never really know what the plot of the present and past actually is.

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