Point Omega

Don DeLillo books always seem to make more sense on trains. At least that's where Shornbare often finds himself reading them. Maybe it's the combination of moving images, unknown people and strange angles into their lives that chimes with the narrative; trains detach you from familiar things and so does Don DeLillo.

Shornbare finished Point Omega on a train to Wolverhampton and it almost made him cry. The final effusive sentence providing a mini-epiphany for him:

"Sometimes a wind comes before the rain and sends birds sailing past the window, spirit birds that ride the night, stranger than dreams."

Always a good last sentence in a Don DeLillo novel.

Walls feature heavily in the novel. The first sentence reads: “There was a man standing against the north wall, barely visible”. He is the man at the wall, watching a video installation in an art gallery, 24 Hour Psycho, the Alfred Hitchcock film slowed down to take 24 hours from beginning to end.

Later in the book a second man wants to film a third man next to a wall: “No plush armchair with warm lighting and books on a shelf in the background. Just a man and a wall.”

When the second man watches the daughter of the third man, as she lies in bed in the dark, he realises she is watching him: “She was under the bedsheet looking straight at me and then she turned on her side and faced the far wall."

On the penultimate page the first man leaves the art gallery by separating himself from the wall.

So many walls, and a lot of looking:

“Everybody was watching something. He was watching the two men, they were watching the screen, Anthony Perkins at his peephole was watching Janet Leigh undress.”

What does it all mean? Who knows, this is a Don DeLillo novel, as well-worked and elusive as ever; leaving a feeling of weight, and of weightlessness. Shornbare was impressed, he’s up against a wall.


June 2010