#264 Mao II

It was with more than a little reluctance that I finished off Don DeLillo’s Moa II last night – I was slightly hopeful when I started it (out of desperation when there were no other books in the house) but that quickly petered out. This was my boyfriend’s choice – I think he was intrigued by the description and bought it some time ago – then got bored after the first couple of pages and abandoned it – but having read White Noise a few years ago it wouldn’t have been my first choice. As with White Noise, I found that Mao II was good in theory (blurb) but not in practice (reading) – I’m not sure if Don DeLillo writes his own blurbs but if he does I wish he would make the rest of his novel as catchy and captivating as them – because in substances his novels don’t grip me and I find myself (literally) falling asleep (once when I tried to read it in bed, twice on a train).

Mao II starts off with a mass wedding of youths in a baseball stadium, lead by their cult leader “the Master”. We’re then introduced to Brita, a photographer who is currently “collecting” writers, and is en route to photograph reclusive author Bill Gray. Bill lives in a mysterious middle of no where location (Brita is blindfolded for the car journey there), with his housekeeper/assistants Scott and Karen (who was married in the mass ceremony at the beginning but has since escape/been freed from her cult life). The dynamic in the house is a bit sinister in parts – I got the impression that Scott and Karen were having to control Bill after he has an episode at their dinner with Brita (and Bill is taking a lot of medication) – to be honest I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to reread and find out. At first Brita seemed likeable enough but soon enough she started spouting pretentiously about her work – the more she speaks the less likeable she becomes. After a brief visit Brita leaves, and shortly after so does Bill (escapes ?) who heads to London to talk to his publisher about helping with hostage negotiations for a (Swiss ?) poet who has been kidnapped in Beirut. The narrative of the story saps away any kind of excitement that such a plotline would lend.

This is a largely negative review and to be honest I wouldn’t actively discourage anyone from attempting this book themselves (it may just be me) – but I would tell them to read anything else, if they had the option.

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