Don DeLillo (1936-)
Beginning with a mass wedding of 13,000 Moonies, Mao II introduces us to Karen, a young passionate waif, able to interpret and see life in pure holistic way. Unsullied by disillusionment, she stands near her husband she has just met, waiting to begin the rest of her life in a new way, capable of new vision.
Eventually, after being kidnapped back from the Moonies and having her brainwashing brainwashed, she runs away for a second time and is discovered by Scott, a rabid fan of the writer Bill Gray. By some unwittingly good piece of luck and a bit of boy-scouting, Scott has tracked down the reclusive writer and after bringing Karen along with him they establish residence in the writers house. As Scott slowly entwines himself into Gray's life, he becomes a necessity and then takes complete command and mastery over Gray's life.
Gray is caught between a two-headed demon snake of the future. The book that he's been working on for 20 years will never be finished, he writes and re-writes and edits and re-edits, does it's conclusion represent a certain finality of his life? As he become the process of writing itself? Leaving him vulnerable and exposed without it, he continues his work. On the other side of the cavern of fate is his reclusive life is now run by Scott, Scott controls all elements, all opinions as he carefully creates a card catalog out if his life.
The only choice for Gray is to, like Karen, run away from home. But this time run where no one can be found, where you are free to invent and re-invent yourself on a regular basis, yet even Gray cannot outrun his fate and as he runs away he realizes, from ones death there is no place to hide.
"They are gripped by the force of a longing. They know at once, they feel it, all of them together, a longing deep in time, running in the earthly blood. This is what people have wanted since consciousness became corrupt.The chant brings the end time closer. The chant is the end time. They feel the power of the human voice, the power of a single word repeated as it moves them deeper into oneness. They chant for world shattering rapture, for the truth of prophecies and astonishments. They chant for new life, peace eternal, the end of soul-lonely pain. Someone on the bandstand beats a massive drum. They chant for one language, one word, for a time when names are lost."
"He went downstairs to the paperbacks, where he stared at the covers of mass market books, running his fingertips erotically over the raised lettering. Covers were lacquered and gilded. Books lay cradled in nine-unit counterparts like experimental babies. He could hear them shrieking Buy me."
"...words that were part of the synthetic mass language, the esperanto of jet lag..."
"He looked at the sentence, six disconsolate words, and saw the entire book as it took occasional shape in his mind, a neutered near-human dragging through the house, a humpback, hydrocephalic, with puckered lips and soft skin, dribbling brain fluid from its mouth. Took him all these years to realize the book was his hated adversary..."
"She took it all in, she believed it all, pain, ecstasy, dog food, all the seraphic matter, the baby bliss that falls from the air. Scott started at her and waited. She carried the virus of the future..."
"Writing was bad for the soul when you got right down to it. It protected your worst tendencies. Narrowed everything to failure and it devastations. Gave your cunning an edge of treachery and your jellyfish heart a reason to fall deeper into silence..."
"It was a life consisting chiefly of hair - hair that drifts into the typewriter, each strand collecting dust along its length and fuzzing up among the hammers...hair that sticks to the felt mat the way a winding fiber leeches on to soap so he has to gouge it out with a thumbnail, all his cells, scales and granules, all his faded pigment, the endless must of all this balling hair that's batched and wadded in the works."
"It made him anxious, not having a pencil stub or a scrap of paper. His thoughts fell out of his head and died. He had to see his thoughts to keep them coming...only writing could soak up his loneliness and pain. Written words could tell him who he was..."
There was something about her hair being cut straight across the forehead that made him think he was feeling up a teacher in a storeroom filled with the new-penny freshness of school supplies..."
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