We are honoured to welcome author Don DeLillo in the run-up to the launch of his latest novel Zero K.
Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2012, DeLillo received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.
Brooklyn, 1929. Of course Crane’s been drinking and has no idea who this curious Andalusian is, unable even to speak the language of poetry. The young man who brought them together knows both Spanish and English, but he has a headache from jumping back and forth from one language to another. For a moment’s relief he goes to the window to look down on the East River, darkening below as the early night comes on. Something flashes across his sight, a double vision of such horror he has to slap both his hands across his mouth to keep from screaming. Let’s not be frivolous, let’s not pretend the two poets gave each other wisdom or love or even a good time, let’s not invent a dialogue of such eloquence that even the ants in your own house won’t forget it. The two greatest poetic geniuses alive meet, and what happens? A vision comes to an ordinary man staring at a filthy river. Have you ever had a vision? Have you ever shaken your head to pieces and jerked back at the image of your young son falling through open space, not from the stern of a ship bound from Vera Cruz to New York but from the roof of the building he works on? Have you risen from bed to pace until dawn to beg a merciless God to take these pictures away? Oh, yes, let’s bless the imagination. It gives us the myths we live by. Let’s bless the visionary power of the human— the only animal that’s got it—, bless the exact image of your father dead and mine dead, bless the images that stalk the corners of our sights and will not let go. The young man was my cousin, Arthur Lierberman, then a language student at Columbia, who told me all this before he died quietly in his sleep in 1983 in a hotel in Perugia. A good man, Arthur, he survived graduate school, later came home to Detroit and sold pianos right through the Depression. He loaned my brother a used one to compose hideous songs on, which Arthur thought were genius. What an imagination Arthur had!
The Internet is both an anomaly and a sign of the times. No, I'm not talking about the actual Internet you're using to read this text (though that Internet is pretty special, too), I'm talking about the L.A. band featuring founding members Syd The Kid (vocals/production) and Matt Martians (keys/ production), as well as Pat Paige (bass), Jameel Bruner (keys) and Chris Smith (drums).
The band might just be the oddest thing to come from Odd Future, the collective known for its irreverence — and, of course, for making hip-hop. The Internet doesn't stand out from the rest of Odd Future because of any over-the-top antics, but because they make great R&B music. Beautiful, textured, enveloping R&B. Sure, the swagger of hip-hop is apparent in Syd's songwriting and the swing of the beats, but that doesn't mean it's adulterated — theirs is some of the most refreshing neo-soul to come out in years, and it's created by a band whose members were small children or not even born when the subgenre came to be in the mid- to late '90s. That's where the sign-of-the-times part comes in; while some decry the death of musicianship at the hands of samplers, drum machines and computer programs, we need look no further than the L.A. band for evidence to the contrary.
Seeing is believing, so the band stopped by NPR's D.C. offices for a Tiny Desk performance that'll give you a taste of the new Ego Death and a song from 2013's Feel Good. Watch the performance and put your Internet service to good use.